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Update on the latest business

October 10, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks fall sharply as bond yields rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are sharply lower on Wall Street as bond yields continue to rise, putting the S&P 500 index on track for its fifth drop in a row.

Technology stocks, some of the biggest winners over the past 12 months, fell much more than the rest of the market Wednesday. Microsoft gave up 3.3 percent.

Treasury yields rose again, tempting more investors away from stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.22 percent.

Sears Holdings plunged 37 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer is preparing a bankruptcy filing.

The Nasdaq composite had lost more than 2 percent in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 was down more than 1.5 percent.

The Dow was down more than 400 points.

PRODUCER PRICES

US wholesale prices rose just 0.2 percent in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices rose a mild 0.2 percent last month, held down by lower food and energy prices, suggesting that inflation remains in check despite the economy’s robust growth.

The Labor Department says its producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches consumers — rose 2.6 percent compared with a year earlier, the smallest increase since January. Wholesale prices rose in September after two months of flat or declining readings.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core wholesale prices rose 0.2 percent in September and 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

Inflation has crept higher this year, eroding the value of Americans’ paychecks. Yet core prices remain close to the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent and have yet to show signs of rapid acceleration.

CVS-AETNA

DOJ approves $69B CVS Health-Aetna merger, with conditions

NEW YORK (AP) — The proposed $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna is getting a greenlight from the Department of Justice, with some conditions.

The Justice Department on Wednesday approved the deal on the condition that Aetna moves ahead with its plan to sell its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business, resolving some anti-monopoly issues.

Aetna announced last month it’d sell the business for an undisclosed amount.

CVS announced plans to buy Hartford, Connecticut’s Aetna late last year. The deal is expected to give the Woonsocket, Rhode Island, drugstore chain a bigger role in health care, with the companies combining to manage care through CVS stores, clinics and prescription drugs.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT-NEW RULES

US Treasury issues new rules on foreign investments

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department has issued new rules on foreign investments into American companies that will give the government more power to block foreign transactions on national security grounds.

The rules represent the latest escalation in an intensifying economic conflict between the United States and China. It will implement a program for tougher reviews of foreign acquisitions that Congress approved this summer.

The new regulations will require foreign investors to alert a Treasury-led interagency committee to all deals that would give the foreign investors access to critical technology covering 27 industries, including semiconductors, telecommunications and defense.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the new rules will “address specific risks to U.S. critical technology.”

AMAZON-WAGES

After backlash, Amazon to boost pay for longtime workers

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon, facing a backlash from longtime warehouse workers who say its $15 hourly minimum wage wouldn’t benefit them, will now get a bigger raise.

The company says adjustments are being made this week, and workers who already made $15 an hour will get more than the $1 extra an hour promised last week. Amazon says the raise will differ by warehouse.

A worker at a Maryland warehouse, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, says employees were told Tuesday that they would now get a raise of $1.25 an hour after Nov. 1. That’s 25 cents more an hour than what they were told last week.

HOLIDAY HIRING-STRUGGLES

Scramble for holiday season workers already near fever pitch

WASHINGTON (AP) — Across the country, America’s retailers and shipping companies are looking happily forward to a robust holiday shopping season. There’s just one concern: Who will stock the shelves, pack the orders and ring up customers?

The U.S. job market is the tightest it’s been in five decades, consumer confidence is near an 18-year high and online shopping is surging. Companies that depend on holiday season sales need more workers at a time when the ranks of the unemployed have dwindled to their lowest level since the recession.

Envisioning an even tougher struggle than they’ve had in recent years, many companies are taking steps they’ve not tried before. More of them are offering higher pay. They’re holding national hiring days. They’re dangling bonuses. They’re providing more full-time, rather than part-time, work.

EUROPE-AUTO EMISSIONS

Europe debates tougher emissions cuts for vehicles

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European Union officials are working on tougher auto emissions standards aimed at fighting global warming — but which the industry cautions could hurt workers and consumers.

Officials from the council of EU member governments, parliament and the executive Commission were to negotiate Wednesday in the wake of environment ministers’ agreement late Tuesday to lower average emissions of CO2 by 35 percent from 2021.

The Commission initially proposed 30 percent, and the parliament voted for 40 percent; talks now aim to reach a final agreement.

Some officials expressed disappointment that the goals don’t go farther, following a UN climate panel’s warning about the consequences of failing to contain global warming.

The European industry association said carmakers support reducing greenhouse cases such as CO2 but cautioned the proposed reduction risks harming competitiveness.

EUROPE-GOOGLE

Google appeals $5 billion EU fine in Android antitrust case

BRUSSELS (AP) — Google has appealed a record $5 billion fine that European Union authorities levied against the tech giant for allegedly abusing the dominance of its Android operating system to stifle competitors.

A spokesman for the company, Al Verney, confirmed Wednesday that the company has filed its legal challenge to the July ruling.

The EU’s executive Commission issued the fine in July after it found Google forced smartphone makers using Android to install the company’s search and browser apps.

Under the ruling, Google must take measures to fix the problem by the end of October or risk further fines.

Google, which had said it would appeal, argued that its free operating system has led to lower-price phones and stoked competition with its chief rival, Apple.

UN-NATURAL DISASTERS

UN: Losses from natural disasters surge over last 20 years

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. office for disaster risk reduction says worldwide reported economic losses from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes and other climate-related disasters have been nearly $2.9 trillion over the past 20 years.

UNISDR, as the office is known, said assets are increasingly found in disaster-prone areas, contributing to a 251-percent increase in climate-related disaster losses from the previous 20-year period.

The U.S. topped the list at over $944 billion, nearly twice the figure from China, in second. Japan, India and Puerto Rico completed the top five.

The agency cautioned Wednesday that the 1998-2017 figures rely on official reports, so more economically powerful countries are generally overrepresented. Insurance is less widespread in developing countries.

UNISDR’s tally is based on confirmed documentation, meaning the $2.9 trillion is likely only a fraction of actual losses.

BRITAIN-UNEXPLAINED WEALTH

Woman who spent $21M at Harrods fights UK wealth order

LONDON (AP) — A woman from Azerbaijan who spent 16 million pounds ($21 million) at luxury London department store Harrods over the course of a decade is the first target of a British power to seize money from people who can’t explain the origins of their wealth.

A court has ordered Zamira Hajiyeva to explain where she got the money to buy an 11.5 million pound ($15 million) London home and a golf course outside the city.

Hajiyeva’s husband, former International Bank of Azerbaijan chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, was jailed in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement.

The case marks Britain’s first use of Unexplained Wealth Orders, introduced this year in a bid curb London’s status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

Hajiyeva denies wrongdoing. A court order granting her anonymity was lifted Wednesday.

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