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Update on the latest in business:

May 14, 2018


Tech and health care companies lift US stock indexes

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks moved higher in midday trading today as investors hoped for reduced trade tensions between the U.S. and China. President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend that the U.S. could ease sanctions on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. That sent shares in U.S. companies that could benefit from such a move higher.

Technology and health care companies accounted for a big slice of the market’s gains. Energy stocks also rose as crude oil prices climbed. Banks moved higher along with bond yields.

At 12:58 p.m. Eastern Time, the S&P 500 index added 4 points, to 2,732. The Dow Jones industrial average is unchanged at 24,926. And the Nasdaq composite rose 23 points, to 7,426.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up less than 1 point to 1,607. The stock market is coming off its best weekly gain since early March.


MLB says ruling’s effect ‘profound’ on baseball

WASHINGTON (AP) — Daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings says it’s poised to enter the sports-betting market after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal law that bans gambling on sports in most states.

The Boston-based company says it had been preparing to launch a sports betting platform and apply for state operating licenses ever since the high court announced it would take up the case.

DraftKings chief executive Jason Robbins says he expects several states to formally legalize sports betting before the start of the NFL season in September.

Robbins says DraftKings will push for regulations in those states that put “smart consumer protections” in place but aren’t overly restrictive.

He says the company is well-positioned to enter the market because of its experience with offering daily fantasy sports games.


Supreme Court greenlights driver rights in rental case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says people who borrow rental cars from friends or family are generally entitled to the same protections against police searches as the authorized driver.

The justices said today that as a general rule someone who is given permission to drive a rental car by the person who rented it has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, even if the rental agreement doesn’t list them as an authorized driver. That means police can’t generally search the car unless they have a warrant or probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

The Trump administration had argued that unauthorized drivers had no reasonable expectation of privacy in a borrowed car.


Trump offers US aid to penalized Chinese telecom company

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a team of trade delegates from China arriving in Washington, a tweet from President Donald Trump has left a number of trade and security officials baffled.

Trump said Sunday that he wants to help ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company get “back into business.”

The company was sanctioned by the U.S. and some see it as a security threat.


Tech companies climb as Trump lobbies for China’s ZTE

NEW YORK (AP) — A slew of technology companies climbed in early trading after President Donald Trump appeared to lobby on behalf of ZTE, a Chinese telecom company that has been sanctioned by the U.S.

The U.S. government cut off ZTE’s access to American suppliers in April in a case involving illegal exports to North Korea and Iran. Early this month ZTE halted core operations.

Trump said on Twitter that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ZTE because many jobs in China are at stake. Companies that do business with ZTE reversed some of their losses from last month.


Facebook suspends about 200 apps that may have misused data

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is suspending about 200 apps that it believes may have misused data.

The social media giant says the suspensions resulted from its investigation into all apps that had access to large amounts of information before Facebook changed its platform policies in 2014. Those changes, according to Facebook, significantly reduced the amount of data that apps could access.

Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships, says that if any evidence is found that the suspended apps or other apps have misused data, they will be banned. Users that may have been exposed will be notified, as was the case when the Cambridge Analytica case broke.

The company says that it’s canvased thousands of apps so far.


Former aircraft cleaner files sexual harassment complaint

BOSTON (AP) — A 22-year-old former cleaner with a Logan International Airport subcontractor that cleans airliners says she was sexually harassed by a supervisor and unjustly fired when she turned down his advances.

Rosa Morban joined Democratic U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark and members of the airport workers’ union today to announce her complaint against ReadyJet with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Morban is the fourth worker from the company to file similar charges.

Morban says her supervisor exposed himself to her and made inappropriate comments. She says her supervisors ridiculed her and didn’t take her seriously when she tried to speak up about the harassment.

Clark said the #MeToo movement extends to everyone, regardless of their race or economic background.

A voice message left with ReadyJet early today wasn’t immediately returned.


Immigration crackdown shifts to employers as audits surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. authorities have sharply increased audits of companies to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the country. That’s a sign the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration is reaching deeper into the workplace.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that it opened nearly 2,300 employer audits between Oct. 1 and May 4, easily surpassing 1,360 audits conducted between October 2016 and September 2017. Many of those reviews were launched following the January ICE audits and employee interviews at about 100 7-Eleven franchises in 17 states.

The head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, Derek Benner, tells The Associated Press that audits will total “well over” 5,000 this year. The agency plans to conduct between 10,000 and 15,000 audits annually.


Rockport plans sale to equity group in bankruptcy move

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rockport Group will sell its assets to private equity group Charlesbank under a bankruptcy plan as the shoemaker struggles to compete in a tougher retail market.

The Newton, Massachusetts-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware. Charlesbank will serve as the “stalking horse bidder” in a court-supervised sale process. The move allows the company to accept other buyout offers.

Rockport says it will maintain operations through the sale process, but the company is seeking court authorization to close retail stores that are not acquired by Charlesbank or a potential other buyer. It plans to focus on its wholesale, independent and e-commerce sales.

Rockport was founded in 1971 as The Rockport Co. and eventually became part of Adidas before being sold again.


Sears: Committee explores sale of Kenmore, other assets

NEW YORK (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. is considering selling its storied Kenmore brand along with other related assets.

The ailing company, which operates department stores under the Sears and Kmart names, says a special committee of its board is starting a formal process to explore the sale.

The move comes almost a month after the retailer said it received a letter from its largest shareholder ESL Investments, headed by Sears Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert, expressing interest in all or some of the assets, which include Sears Home Services’ home improvement business and the company’s Parts Direct business.

Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, said no assurance can be given any formal proposal will be made by ESL or any third party.

The company has sold off other major brands as it struggles to stay afloat with Kenmore a notable reminder of the powerhouse retailer it once was.

In morning trading, shares added 37 cents, or nearly 11 percent, to $3.79


CBS Corp. sues majority shareholder to gain independence

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS is suing its controlling shareholder as part of its long-running attempt to avoid a combination with Viacom.

Both companies are controlled by National Amusements. That’s the holding company run by Shari Redstone, the daughter of media mogul Sumner Redstone. Though National Amusements abandoned a proposal for CBS and Viacom to combine in 2016, CBS fears it may come up again.

Now, CBS is suing to block any interference by National Amusements ahead of a CBS board vote on a dividend that would dilute National Amusements’ voting interest from 79 percent to 17 percent. CBS says that would make CBS independent and allow it to “more fully evaluate strategic alternatives.”

National Amusements says it is “outraged” and has no intention of forcing a deal not supported by both companies.


Warren Buffett will again auction private lunch for charity

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett is preparing to auction off another private lunch to raise money for a homeless charity in San Francisco.

Over the past 18 years, Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and CEO has raised more than $26 million for the Glide Foundation through the annual auctions.

Last year’s winner got a relative bargain by paying $2,679,001for the lunch. The record price for the auction is $3,456,789 that winners paid in 2016 and 2012.

This year’s eBay auction starts on May 27 and runs through 9:30 p.m. Central on June 1.

Buffett became involved with the Glide Foundation after his first wife, Susie, volunteered at the charity. She died in 2004, but the connection between Buffett and the group endured.

The winner can invite up to seven friends to join the lunch.


Ohio chocolate company says hacker stole customer info

CLEVELAND (AP) — Malley’s Chocolates is warning 3,400 online customers that their credit or debit card information might have been compromised by a computer hacker in March, during the Ohio candy company’s busy weeks before Easter.

The company based in suburban Cleveland says the data breach affected customers who made online orders but not those shopping in person at its nearly two dozen stores in northeastern Ohio.

Malley’s Chairman and co-owner Mike Malley told The Plain Dealer in Cleveland that tips from customers who spotted fraud involving their accounts led to further investigation that confirmed the breach. The company shut down its website for several days to address the security concerns.

Malley told the newspaper that security features on the company’s website were up-to-date and officials aren’t sure how it was hacked.

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