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Update on the latest in business:

November 16, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

World markets mixed on trade, Brexit tensions

SINGAPORE (AP) — World markets are mixed today as trade tensions and political risks surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union weigh on sentiment.

In early trading, France’s CAC lost 0.6 percent while Germany’s DAX was up 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.6 percent while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was 0.1 percent lower. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.4 percent higher. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

Wall Street is set for a pessimistic open, with Dow futures down 0.3 percent and S&P 500 futures 0.4 percent lower.

FACEBOOK-ENFORCING RULES

Facebook says it’s better at detecting rule violations

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook said it’s making progress on detecting hate speech, graphic violence and other violations of its rules, even before users see and report them.

Facebook said that during the April-to-September period, it doubled the amount of hate speech it detected proactively, compared with the previous six months.

The findings were spelled out Thursday in Facebook’s second semiannual report on enforcing community standards. The reports come as Facebook grapples with challenge after challenge, ranging from fake news to Facebook’s role in elections interference, hate speech and incitement to violence in the U.S., Myanmar, India and elsewhere.

The company also said it disabled more than 1.5 billion fake accounts in the latest six-month period, compared with 1.3 billion during the previous six months. Facebook said most of the fake accounts it found were financially motivated, rather than aimed at misinformation. The company has nearly 2.3 billion users.

Facebook’s report comes a day after The New York Times published an extensive report on how Facebook deals with crisis after crisis over the past two years. The Times described Facebook’s strategy as “delay, deny and deflect.”

FILM-APPLE-A24

Apple signs multiyear deal with film studio A24

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has signed a multiyear film production deal with A24, the acclaimed New York-based studio behind “Moonlight” and “Lady Bird.”

People close to the deal who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment confirmed the agreement Thursday. Apple is investing in scripted content with the intention of competing with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. The deal connects Apple with one of the most respected makers of prestige and arthouse titles in film.

Neither Apple nor A24 commented Thursday. Unclear is how many films the deal includes, or if the movies will be released theatrically.

A24 was previously rumored to potentially be an acquisition target for Apple. This deal leaves the distributor of films like “The Witch,” ″Mid90s,” ″Hereditary” and “Eighth Grade” with its independence.

FDA-SMOKING FLAVORS

FDA to crack down on menthol cigarettes, flavored vapes

NEW YORK (AP) — In a major new effort to curb smoking, a top U.S. health official pledged Thursday to try to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and tighten rules governing the sale of most flavored versions of electronic cigarettes.

The proposed restrictions were aimed mainly at reducing smoking in kids: About half of teens who smoke cigarettes choose menthols, and flavored e-cigarettes have been blamed for a recent increase in teen vaping rates.

Health advocates say a menthol ban would have greater impact on the health of Americans, but it would probably take years to put in place. The changes for e-cigarettes could kick in within a few months.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes are more popular among teens than regular smokes and are considered safer. But many versions contain potentially addictive nicotine, and health officials believe they set kids who try them on a path toward regular cigarettes.

The official called for additional steps to prevent the marketing of e-cigarettes directly to kids and online sales to minors.

EPA-ETHICS-INDICTMENT

EPA official arrested on felony ethics charges in Alabama

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s top environmental official for the Southeast was arrested Thursday on criminal ethics charges in Alabama reported to be related to a scheme to help a coal company avoid paying for a costly toxic waste cleanup.

Trey Glenn was briefly booked into a county jail in Birmingham before being released on a $30,000 bond. The 47-year-old was appointed in August 2017 to serve as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Atlanta, which oversees operations in eight states stretching from the Carolinas to Mississippi.

A grand jury indicted Glenn and his former business partner Scott Phillips earlier this week. Prior to Glenn’s appointment at EPA, he and Phillips worked for the coal company Drummond Co. to build state and local opposition to a federal Superfund cleanup in Birmingham that their client would have had to help fund.

Glenn resigned as director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in 2009 following an earlier ethics scandal in which he was not charged. He worked as an industry lobbyist before his appointment to EPA.

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Glenn denied the charges.

CALIFORNIA PESTICIDE RESTRICTION

California recommends restrictions for popular pesticide

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California regulators recommended new restrictions Thursday on a widely used pesticide blamed for harming the brains of babies.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation issued temporary guidelines for chlorpyrifos (klor-PEER’-ih-fahs) that include banning it from crop dusting, discontinuing its use on most crops and increasing perimeters around where it’s applied.

The DowDuPont pesticide currently used on about 60 different crops — including grapes, almonds and oranges — has increasingly come under fire from regulators, lawmakers and courts.

A federal appeals court in August ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove the pesticide from sale in the United States after it ruled the Trump administration endangered public health by reversing an Obama-era effort to ban the chemical. The EPA is appealing that 2-1 ruling to a full panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hawaii passed legislation in June that will ban the use of the pesticide in January.

An environmental group blasted the new recommendations as toothless and said California should be taking the pesticide off the market after scientists for three state agencies found it was toxic and couldn’t be safely used at any levels.

MEXICO-PRESIDENT-BUSINESS COUNCIL

Mexico’s president elect reaches out to business elite

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has reached out to the country’s business elite, announcing the formation of a business advisory council including big names, especially in media.

Lopez Obrador said in a pre-recorded video circulated Thursday that he would meet with the council every couple months.

Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, says Mexico needs the private sector’s support to generate jobs and grow the economy.

The leftist politician quickly moved to meet with business leaders to calm markets after his victory in July. Last month, Lopez Obrador roiled markets again by announcing the cancellation of the capital’s $13 billion airport project.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the founder of Grupo Salinas, which owns TV Azteca network, and Bernardo Gomez, the co-CEO of Televisa network, are among the council’s members.

FAO SCHWARZ REBORN

Beloved toy store FAO Schwarz makes its comeback

NEW YORK (AP) — Three years after it closed its beloved toy store on Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz is making a return to New York.

A new FAO opens tosay in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, about 10 blocks from its former home near Central Park.

For more than 150 years, FAO Schwarz was known for its classy and sometimes extravagantly expensive toys.

The toy palace it opened on Fifth Avenue in 1986 was a tourist attraction.

The new version will be smaller, but will have familiar attractions, including a musical clock tower and the giant piano keyboard mat on which Tom Hanks danced in the film “Big.”

Also on sale: A crystal-encrusted toy car for $25,000.

Pop-up FAO shops are also opening in England, Spain and Australia.

EARNS-NORDSTROM

Nordstrom’s guidance undercuts Q3 numbers, stock slides

SEATTLE (AP) — Shares of Nordstrom Inc. slid in after-hours trading Thursday after the department store retailer issued weak guidance for the full year.

The Seattle-based company says it had third-quarter net income of $67 million, or 39 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 67 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations.

Sales in stores open at least a year, a key metric of a retailer’s health, rose 2.3 percent during the quarter, with Nordstrom’s Rack off-price stores seeing a 5.8 percent gain. Full-price stores were nearly flat at 0.4 percent.

Nordstrom expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.55 to $3.65 per share, with revenue in the range of $15.5 billion to $15.6 billion.

MEAT PRODUCER-LABOR ALLEGATIONS

Meat producer agrees to $4M payment to settle labor claims

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — The U.S. branch of the world’s largest meat producer will pay $4 million in back wages and other monetary relief as part of a consent decree settling allegations by federal labor officials.

The Greeley Tribune reports the U.S. Department of Labor claimed in two actions that JBS USA discriminated based on race and gender against applicants for laborer positions at its facilities in Hyrum, Utah, and Cactus, Texas.

The company with U.S. headquarters in Greeley, Colorado, has agreed to pay 12,625 class members at those facilities and hire 1,664 of the applicants.

It has also agreed to retain an independent workplace consultant to review and revise its hiring process.

Spokesman Cameron Bruett says in a statement JBS USA denies the allegations, but it believes “more can be accomplished through partnership.”

CHINA-HOTEL SCANDAL

Major hotels in China inspected after room cleaning expose

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese tourism ministry has asked authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and three provinces to investigate room cleaning at 14 major hotels after hidden camera video showed workers using used towels to clean cups and glasses and other questionable practices.

Several of the hotels including a Shangri-La, Sheraton and Waldorf Astoria have apologized since an activist blogger posted the video online earlier this week. In several clips, workers in bathrooms wipe down sinks, coffee cups and glasses with the same used towel.

The Peninsula hotel in Beijing said Friday that city inspectors had tested its cups and found they were cleaner than standards required. The Park Hyatt in Beijing called what happened an isolated occurrence.

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