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Update on the latest in business:

September 24, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Global stocks dip on report US, China call off trade talks

NEW YORK (AP) — Global stocks are slipping today after the U.S. and China officially put new tariffs on each other’s goods. China also reportedly pulled out of a meeting to discuss trade.

Oil prices are jumping after OPEC decided not to produce more oil. Several major deals were announced over the weekend. Cable and internet company Comcast outbid Twenty-First Century Fox and won an auction for British pay TV company Sky, but Comcast shares are seeing the biggest decline on the S&P 500.

At 1:05 p.m. Eastern time, the S&P 500 index fell 15 points, to 2,915. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 190 points, to 26,552. Both the S&P 500 and Dow set record highs last week.

The Nasdaq composite gave up 22 points, to 7,965 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dropped 13 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,698.

KEYSTONE PIPELINE

Keystone XL developer plans to start construction in 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline says it plans to start construction next year, after the U.S. State Department concluded major environmental damage from a leak is unlikely and could quickly be mitigated.

TransCanada spokesman Matthew John said Monday that the company remains committed to moving ahead with the project following years of reviews from federal and state regulators.

But the report issued Friday from the Trump administration’s State Department drew sharp criticism from environmental groups. They say they’ll continue to fight the project they view as an environmental threat.

The report says the pipeline would have a “negligible to moderate” environmental impact under its normal operations, and continuous monitoring and the company’s response plan would mitigate the effects of any spill.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Fed watchers seek hints about future rates amid likely hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve will surprise no one if it does Wednesday what it seems poised to do for a third time this year: Raise its key short-term interest rate by a modest quarter-point to help keep inflation in check — and hint that another hike is likely in December.

What Fed watchers will really be looking for is any sign of whether the central bank might slow its rate hikes in the months ahead. Many analysts expect the economy to weaken next year, in part from the effects of the trade conflicts President Donald Trump has pursued with China, Canada and Europe.

An economic slowdown would likely lead the Fed to throttle back on its rate increases to avoid stifling growth. In that scenario, it might raise rates only twice in 2019 and then retreat to the sidelines to see how the economy fares.

WEIGHT WATCHERS

Weight Watchers slims down name to WW

NEW YORK (AP) — Weight Watchers is trimming its name to just two letters: WW.

The company says it is renaming itself to focus more on overall wellness and not just dieting. Its app, for example, will offer tips and meditation and give out rewards for tracking meals and exercise.

WW has seen a rise in subscribers, helped by a 2015 investment by Oprah Winfrey. The media mogul has appeared on commercials for the company, promoting her weight loss. WW had 4.5 million subscribers at the end of June, a 28 percent increase from the same period a year before.

The New York-based company says users will see changes to its app starting next week.

SEARS

Sears CEO: Retailer needs to sell more real estate

NEW YORK (AP) — The hedge fund owned by Sears Holdings Corp. CEO Eddie Lampert is urging the retailer’s board to sell more of its real estate and restructure its debt, as it seeks to avoid bankruptcy.

ES Investment Hedge Fund said today that Sears should sell $1.5 billion more in real estate and restructure $1.1 billion in debt, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based operator of Sears and Kmart has closed hundreds of stores as it burns through money amid sagging sales.

In August, the board said it was weighing an offer from Lampert that Sears should sell its Kenmore brand and said ESL might offer to buy it if it was willing to sell.

Sears shares fell to $1.13, close to an all-time low.

DRUG PRICESS-BUSINESS AS USUAL

AP review: Drug prices keep going up despite Trump pressure

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump made reducing drug prices a key election campaign promise, saying drugmakers were “getting away with murder.” At the end of May, the president promised drug companies would be announcing “massive” voluntary drug price cuts within two weeks.

Few cuts followed. And an analysis by The Associated Press of brand-name prescription drug prices shows it’s mostly been business as usual for drugmakers since Trump took office.

This year, there were 96 drug price hikes for every price cut, and the decreases were smaller than in recent years. There were 24 price cuts in June and July, and 395 price increases.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar conceded in a recent AP interview that it will be quite a while before drug prices fall.

DEUTSCHE BANK

Deutsche Bank ordered to install money laundering monitor

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany’s financial regulator has ordered Deutsche Bank to install a special monitor to oversee the implementation of safeguards against money laundering.

The BaFin regulator said today that the monitor would report on the bank’s progress in improving its procedures.

Deutsche Bank said it had taken on accounting firm KPMG as the monitor. The bank said in a statement that it agreed with BaFin that it needed to improve processes related to identifying the clients it was doing business with. It said it would implement the requirements “as soon as possible.”

It’s the first time in Germany that a monitor has been ordered in connection with anti-money laundering rules. BaFin’s news release did not connect the step to any previous violation by Deutsche Bank.

APPLE-SALESFORCE

Apple, Salesforce teaming up on mobile apps for business

NEW YORK (AP) — Customer relations software company Salesforce says it will join with Apple to create new business apps exclusively for iPhone and iPad.

Salesforce said Monday the partnership will focus on three areas: apps for industry and small business to improve customer relations; enabling businesses and developers to create Salesforce apps for iPhone and iPad; and promoting developer career growth by teaching anyone how to build iOS apps. The “Get Started with iOS Development Trail” app is available now, while the others will roll out later this year and in early 2019.

The companies say that millions of developers would be able to build their own apps through the new Salesforce Mobile SDK for iOS and through Salesforce’s free web-based learning platform Trailhead.

Shares of Salesforce rose 1.5 percent in morning trading.

ITALY-VERSACE SALE

Reports: Versace on verge of sale to Michael Kors

MILAN (AP) — An Italian newspaper reports that the Versace group is on the verge of announcing its sale to an American company for 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

Corriere della Sera reported today, without citing sources, that the announcement could come as early as Tuesday. Bloomberg and Reuters news agencies later reported the buyer would be fashion group Michael Kors, which has been trying to burnish its image and last year bought high-end shoemaker Jimmy Choo for $1.35 billion.

Versace declined to comment on the reports. A spokesperson at Michael Kors couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The reports come as Michael Kors has made it clear that it wants to transform itself into a house of luxury brands, starting last year with its acquisition of Jimmy Choo, made famous for its “Sex and the City” stilettos. The strategy follows moves by other fashion companies. Tapestry, formerly Coach, owns Stuart Weitzman and last year it acquired Kate Spade.

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

Draghi: Wage growth pushing up inflation in euro area

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says he expects inflation to rise in the 19 countries that use the euro as a stronger job market pushes up wages.

Draghi’s comments today before the economic and monetary committee of the European Parliament in Brussels indicated the bank continues to think the recovery is strong enough for it to phase out its bond-purchase stimulus at year end.

Draghi told the committee members that the bank was confident that the pick-up in wages would continue because wage agreements often last two years or more.

The bank has pumped 2.5 trillion euros ($2.95 trillion) in newly printed money into the economy through the monthly bond purchases, trying to raise inflation from dangerously weak levels toward its goal of just under 2 percent annually.

BREXIT

UK’s Labour opposition says it might back new Brexit vote

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s main opposition party took a step at its annual conference toward backing a new referendum on Brexit — but stopped short of saying the vote should include an option not to leave the European Union at all.

Delegates at the Labour Party conference in the northwestern English city of Liverpool will debate a motion Tuesday saying that if Parliament rejects the government’s Brexit deal, “Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”

The motion, whose wording was argued over during a five-hour meeting late Sunday, does not specify that a new referendum should include an option to remain in the EU, as many party members want.

Most of the party’s half-million members voted in 2016 to remain in the EU. But many of its 257 lawmakers represent areas that supported leaving, so Brexit poses an electoral dilemma for the left-of-center party.

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