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Update on the latest in business:

September 19, 2017


Asian shares mixed as Nikkei rises on yen, muted elsewhere

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed today as investors awaited comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Japan’s benchmark rose on optimism over a weak yen and a record finish on Wall Street.

On Wall Street yesterday, the S&P 500 index rose 3.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,503.87. The Dow gained 63.01 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,331.35. Both indexes closed at new record highs as the market extended gains from last week. The Nasdaq composite added 6.17 points.

Investors are looking ahead to the latest two-day policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which begins today. Forecasters expect the Fed to leave interest rates unchanged and stick to plans to raise rates in December. But traders will be listening for any indications the central bank could move sooner.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up but remains just below $50 a barrel.

The dollar rose against the yen and weakened against the euro.


EU Chamber warns China: Open economy faster or risk backlash

BEIJING (AP) — A foreign business group appealed to China today to move faster in carrying out promises to open its state-dominated economy and warned that inaction might fuel a backlash against free trade.

Beijing faces mounting complaints from Washington and Europe about barriers in industries from finance to medical equipment while its own competitors have largely unfettered access to foreign markets.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report that Beijing is backtracking in some areas, including by reducing access to its legal services market.

The report appealed to Chinese leaders for changes in fields from aerospace to cosmetics including opening more industry segments, easing limits on foreign ownership stakes in companies and simplifying regulation.

The chamber’s American counterpart and other groups have issued similar appeals.

China is a key global market for autos, aircraft, smartphones, cosmetics and other goods. But Beijing bars foreign competitors from a wide range of fields including finance, telecoms and utilities.


Judge: Ex-NFL players may be targets for ‘misleading’ offers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge overseeing the NFL’s $1 billion concussion settlement with former players says she’s concerned they’re being targeted by claims service providers, lenders and other groups seeking a share of the money.

At a hearing in Philadelphia on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody will hear allegations unscrupulous third-party providers have been taking advantage of players with significant brain damage.

The judge has said in a court order she’ll weigh the legality of contracts signed by former players who were duped by “deceptive or misleading solicitations.”

The judge will hear from Christopher Seeger, who represented the class of more than 20,000 former NFL players now eligible for payments. Seeger has been investigating the third-party groups at the judge’s request.


Federal Reserve opens two-day meeting in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) —When the Federal Reserve meets this week, it’s sure to take account of the economic consequences of two devastating hurricanes.

It will also be awaiting an announcement, possibly within weeks, about its own leadership: whether President Donald Trump will ask Janet Yellen to remain Fed chair beyond February, when her term ends.

Amid the uncertainty, the Fed is considered all but sure to announce after its meeting ends Wednesday that it will begin paring its enormous bond portfolio — a process that’s likely to cause consumer and business loan rates to rise gradually over time.

The two-day Fed meeting commences in Washington later today.

In reports due out Tuesday, the Commerce Department is releasing its analysis of housing starts for August and will at the same time release the current account trade deficit for the second quarter, from April through June.


GOP eyes popular tax breaks to finance overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans straining to find about $1 trillion to finance sweeping tax cuts are homing in on two popular deductions that are woven into the nation’s fiscal fabric.

One is the mortgage interest deduction that millions of taxpayers enjoy. The other is the deduction for state and local taxes popular in Democratic strongholds.

About 30 million Americans deduct mortgage interest from their income taxes, a deduction Realtors and homebuilders argue is a catalyst to home ownership in the United States.

The most recent IRS tally says nearly 44 million people claimed the deduction for state and local taxes in 2014, especially in California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

Republicans are determined to overhaul the tax code after more than three decades, delivering on a top legislative priority for President Donald Trump.


State, federal authorities proposing new rules on Equifax

NEW YORK (AP) — State and federal authorities are proposing tougher regulations against Equifax and the entire credit monitoring industry after the company announced that personal information like Social Security numbers of about 143 million Americans was exposed.

This is on top of the lawsuits already filed against Equifax by state attorneys general, and a multitude of lawsuits filed that are seeking class-action status.

In New York, for instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing new state regulations for credit reporting agencies. The Democratic governor announced Monday that he’s directed the state Department of Financial Services to issue new rules requiring credit reporting agencies to register in New York for the first time and to comply with the state’s cybersecurity standards.

The proposal would require Equifax and similar firms to adhere to the same consumer protection rules the state imposes on banks and insurance companies.

Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system.


House Speaker Paul Ryan ‘very excited’ about Foxconn

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is “very excited” about the $3 billion tax incentive deal for Foxconn Technology Group signed into law by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Ryan was asked about the deal Monday following a tour of a Harley-Davidson plant in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Ryan says Foxconn will “bring a whole new sector to our economy’” with high-paying jobs. He says Foxconn will create an industrial park for the Silicon Valley in southeast Wisconsin. He calls it a “great breaker of poverty in Wisconsin.”

The Wisconsin Legislature passed the incentive package for Taiwan-based Foxconn last week, the largest ever from any state to a foreign company. Walker signed the bill Monday surrounded by supporters of the project.


CFPB fines student loan holder, debt collector

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government has fined two groups it says illegally attempted to collect student loan debt. It also says the groups are prohibited from further action on recovering payments until audits on all its accounts are completed.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, which owns more than 800,000 student loans, and their debt collector, Transworld Systems, sued borrowers for student loans “they couldn’t prove were owed and filed false and misleading affidavits in courts across the country.”

The CFPB is ordering the trusts to pay at least $19.1 million and Transworld $2.5 million in civil penalties.

Transworld Systems of Lake Forest, Illinois, said it was “disappointed” and disagreed with the CFPB’s “characterizations,” but is settling in order to focus on its customers.


Lawsuit aims to block oil drilling on US land in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Environmentalists have sued a U.S. agency to try to stop it from allowing oil and gas drilling on a vast stretch of federal land in Nevada, where the government is reversing protections put in place nine months ago under the Obama administration.

The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management illegally failed to consider potential consequences of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, ranging from harm to the greater sage grouse to contamination of fragile desert water sources and emission of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

The suit filed last week in federal court in Reno seeks an order forcing the bureau to rescind oil drilling leases it sold in June for as low as $2 per acre on three land parcels covering about 9 square miles (23 square kilometers).


City asks judge to let case against OxyContin maker proceed

SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington city that says the pain medication OxyContin has devastated the community asked a federal judge Monday to let it move forward with its lawsuit seeking to hold the pill’s manufacturer accountable for damages.

Everett, a working-class city of about 108,000 north of Seattle, sued Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma in January, alleging the company knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and into the city and did nothing to stop it.

Purdue filed a motion to dismiss in March. Before hearing arguments Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez called the case an interesting one with some novel legal issues.

Purdue attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told the judge the case should be tossed for a number of reasons. Among them, the city fails to show a direct relationship between the company’s conduct and the alleged harms.


Trudeau: Canada could stop dealing with Boeing over dispute

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada could stop doing business with Boeing if the U.S. company doesn’t drop a trade complaint against Canadian plane maker Bombardier.

Trudeau said Monday that Canada “won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.”

Canada had been in talks to purchase 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing. But those negotiations have been on hold because of the Bombardier dispute. Trudeau’s comments are Canada’s strongest yet.

Chicago-based Boeing’s complaint claims Bombardier’s new C Series passenger aircraft receives Canadian government subsidies that give it an advantage internationally.

The complaint prompted a U.S. Commerce Department anti-dumping investigation that could result in penalties for Bombardier. A preliminary decision is expected next week and a final decision could include financial penalties.


Purchase of California oil hub dropped after state sues

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Valero Energy petroleum company says it is giving up plans to acquire the last independently owned petroleum terminal in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Valero said in a statement Monday that it is dropping its purchase of the Martinez petroleum terminal hub rather than wage a long court battle over it.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (HAH-vee-air beh-SEHR’-ah) had sued to block the transaction.

Becerra says Valero’s purchase of the Plains All American Pipeline facility would have put all three Northern California petroleum-shipping hubs in the hands of refineries.

He says that would have stifled competition and might have raised gas prices.


Indiana nursing home company sues former executives

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A nursing home management firm in Indiana has sued several former executives who are already criminally charged with embezzling more than $16 million from the company.

American Senior Communities filed the lawsuit Friday against several individuals, including former CEO James Burkhart, and 16 shell companies. That’s according to the Indianapolis Star.

The company manages nearly 100 senior care facilities, including 60 locations under a contract with Marion County’s public health agency. The county is home to Indianapolis.

The federal lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, alleges the executives took advantage of the company and violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Burkhart’s attorney said he’s innocent and that the company flourished under his leadership.


$840 million theme park announced for Mexico’s Maya Riviera

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Developers in Mexico have announced plans for an $840 million theme park on the country’s Caribbean coast just north of the resort city of Playa del Carmen.

The park will be named “Amikoo,” the Mayan pronunciation of “amigo,” or friend.

Many of its attractions will include cartoon characters representing figures adapted from Mexican culture.

Rides will include the “Pirates of Bacalar,” referring to a coastal lagoon to the south where pirates once lurked.

Located along the turquoise-hued coast, the park will have a wave pool, virtual tours of the sea and air, hotels and a shopping mall.

Developers said Monday that the first phase of the park is to be completed by late 2018.

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