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Update on the latest business

November 23, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks drop in light trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have closed lower in light trading in a shortened post-Thanksgiving session.

Energy stocks fell along with the price of oil. U.S. crude is down 6.1 percent to $51.29 per barrel on renewed concerns that a slowing global economy could hurt demand. Among energy stocks, Chevron dropped 3.4 percent.

Technology stocks also weighed on the market. Apple fell 2.5 percent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.05 percent.

The S&P 500 closed in what’s known on Wall Street as a correction — 10 percent below its most recent high. The S&P 500 index fell 17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,632. The index is now down 10.2 percent from the record high set Sept. 20.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 178 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,285. The Nasdaq composite fell 33 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,938.

HOLIDAY-BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday still draws shoppers to stores

NEW YORK (AP) — It would have been easier to turn on their computers over plates of leftover turkey and take advantage of the Black Friday deals most retailers now offer online. But across the country, thousands of shoppers woke up before dawn the day after Thanksgiving to take part in this most famous ritual of American consumerism.

Many shoppers said Black Friday shopping is as much about the spectacle as it is about doorbuster deals.

Shoppers lined up outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota by 4 a.m., and the crowd had grown to 3,000 people by the time doors opened at 5. In Ohio, a group of women was so determined, they booked a hotel room Thursday night to be closer to the stores. In New York City, one woman went straight from a dance club to a department store in the middle of the night.

Black Friday was expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a technology company. And analysts say Black Friday sales should be even bigger than a year ago.

Black Friday has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score door busters into a whole month of deals. Many major stores, including Walmart, Best Buy and Macy’s, start their blockbuster deals on Thanksgiving evening, which has thinned out the Friday crowds.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING-SUPREME COURT

Cyber Monday shoppers will see more sites charging sales tax

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shoppers heading online to purchase holiday gifts will find they’re being charged sales tax at websites where they weren’t before.

The reason has to do with the Supreme Court. A June ruling gave states the go-ahead to require more companies to collect sales tax on online purchases. Now, more than two dozen have moved to take advantage of the ruling.

Whether online shoppers get charged sales tax comes down to where they live and where they’re shopping.

Before the Supreme Court’s recent decision , the rule was that businesses selling online had to collect sales tax only in states where they had stores, warehouses or another physical presence. Now, states can force out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax if they’re doing a fair amount of business in the state.

GENERAL MOTORS-BRAKE INVESTIGATION

GM under investigation for faulty brake vacuum pumps

The U.S. government is investigating more than 100 complaints of poor brake performance on 2.7 million General Motors big pickups and SUVs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says a brake vacuum pump can deteriorate, causing increased braking effort and longer stopping distances.

The agency has 111 consumer complaints including nine crashes and two injuries.

The investigation covers 2014 through 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. Also involved are Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs.

The agency will determine how often the problem happens and whether a recall is necessary.

Messages were left Friday seeking comment from GM.

ROAD SALT-STICKER SHOCK

Salt stress: Road salt prices higher as winter looms

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Budget-busting road salt prices are leaving municipal officials in the Snow Belt hoping for a mild winter.

Salt supplies are tight on the heels of a harsh winter last year that depleted reserves, leaving many localities in the Northeast and Great Lakes to pay prices ranging from 5 percent higher to almost double.

The increases are frustrating to local officials who are locked into tight budgets. Some highway superintendents say they could choose to make their salt supplies last by mixing in cheaper materials, such as sand. And others say it could force them to defer other road projects.

Production issues at two major North American salt mines have contributed to the tight supplies.

EUROPE-AMAZON STRIKE

Amazon staff in Europe protest to coincide with Black Friday

LONDON (AP) — Some of Amazon’s workers in Europe are protesting against what they call unfair work conditions, in a move meant to disrupt operations on Black Friday.

Amazon Spain said around 90 percent of workers at a logistics depot in near Madrid joined the walkout Friday. Only two people were at the loading bay, spokesman Douglas Harper said.

However, he said Amazon had diverted cargo deliveries to its other 22 depots in the country.

Meanwhile, unions in Britain will stage protests at five sites to complain about safety conditions. Amazon said the safety record at its warehouses is above the industry average. Protests were also reported or due in France and Germany.

While Black Friday discounts have traditionally been a U.S. retail event, companies have increasingly been offering discounts in other countries, too.

EUROPE-AIRLINE TICKET SYSTEMS

EU opens antitrust investigation of air ticket distributors

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union regulators have launched an investigation into flight ticket distribution services on concerns that their agreements with airlines might result in more expensive plane tickets.

The EU’s executive Commission said Friday that it has opened an antitrust investigation into Amadeus and Sabre, two major “global distribution systems” for airline tickets.

The Commission is examining whether their contracts may restrict airlines and travel agents from using other suppliers.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she’s concerned any possible restrictions “could create carriers to innovation” and push up distribution costs for airlines, “ultimately raising ticket prices for travelers.”

Amadeus of Spain and Sabre, a U.S. company, provide flight booking systems and reservation management software.

The Commission said the opening of a formal investigation “does not prejudge its outcome.”

GERMANY-VOLKSWAGEN-DIESEL SCANDAL

VW to appeal German court ruling ordering diesel car buyback

BERLIN (AP) — German automaker Volkswagen says it will appeal a court ruling that orders it to buy back a six-year-old diesel vehicle at the original sales price.

In a statement Friday, Volkswagen said it expects an appeals court to overturn the verdict issued last week by judges in the southern German city of Augsburg.

The company has paid billions of dollars in fines and compensation to diesel car owners since 2015 for cheating on emissions tests.

But until the Augsburg verdict, courts in Germany had deducted a usage fee when ordering VW to buy back affected diesel cars.

In their ruling, judges in Augsburg said VW had acted “immorally” by manipulating the emissions control software in its cars in order to increase sales.

Volkswagen insists that “customers suffered neither loss nor damage.”

US-CHINA TARIFFS-WTO REFORM

China: WTO changes must support developing countries

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese official says Beijing will go along with World Trade Organization reforms meant to update global trade rules but they must protect China’s status as a developing country.

The deputy commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, said Friday that any changes must address protectionism, abuse of export controls and security reviews — a reference to Beijing’s clash with U.S. President Donald Trump over technology policy.

The Trump administration has criticized the WTO as too slow to deal with complaints about Chinese industry policy. The European Union says the trade referee should focus on subsidies, technology transfers and state industry — all areas in which Beijing faces complaints.

Wang said Beijing will “not allow other members to deprive China of the special and differential treatment that developing members deserve.”

BREXIT

Brexit deal almost done, but Spain holds out over Gibraltar

LONDON (AP) — Spain pushed Friday for a cast-iron guarantee of its say over the future of Gibraltar as a condition for backing a divorce agreement between Britain and European Union, as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May battled to win approval for the deal from skeptical politicians and a Brexit-weary populace.

Spain’s leader warned he would oppose the deal, which lays out the terms of Britain’s departure in March and sets up a framework for future relations, if language wasn’t added on Gibraltar, the disputed territory at the tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez — who is due to join other EU leaders at a Brussels summit on Sunday to rubber-stamp the deal — tweeted that Britain and Spain “remain far away” on the issue and “if there are no changes, we will veto Brexit.”

Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain. Spain wants the future of the tiny territory to be a bilateral issue between Madrid and London.

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