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Update on the latest in business:

February 1, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks mixed as China-US talks end with no deal

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed Friday as trade talks ended in Washington with no deal but the promise of a second meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Gains were limited by a private survey showing that Chinese manufacturing slowed to the lowest level in almost three years.

On Wall Street, corporate earnings helped U.S. indexes seal a strong performance in January. Facebook reported it earned $6.9 billion in the fourth quarter, 61 percent higher than a year earlier. After the close of regular trading, Amazon said its quarterly profits topped $3 billion for the first time, though its forecast for the current quarter was tepid. The S&P 500 index added 0.9 percent to 2,704.10. It rose 7.9 percent in January, its best monthly gain since October 2015. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.1 percent to 24,999.67 while the Nasdaq composite jumped 1.4 percent to 7,281.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 0.8 percent to 1,499.42.

CHINA-U.S. TRADE: American and Chinese negotiators wrapped up two days of talks Thursday without a deal but with an upbeat outlook. Trump said China has agreed to buy more American soybeans, but he expects to meet Xi to seek agreement on other contentious issues.

A private survey suggested manufacturing in China slowed in January. China’s Caixin Manufacturing PMI was 48.3 in January, down from 49.7 in December. Readings below 50 indicate contraction on the index’s 100-point scale.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped and remains just under $54 per barrel.

The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

FACEBOOK-FAKE ACCOUNTS

Facebook removes 783 fake pages, accounts tied to Iran

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That’s the social network’s term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections.

Facebook has disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar , Bangladesh and Russia .

The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

Facebook says the accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisements, paid for in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars and euros.

The company says Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service.

CORPORATE EARNINGS

Honda’s, Sont, Deutsche Bank report earnings

UNDATED (AP) — TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. reported a 71 percent decline in its fiscal third quarter profit as air-bag recalls and flat vehicle sales offset gains from cost cuts.

Tokyo-based Honda reported Friday that its October-December profit was 168 billion yen ($1.5 billion), down from 570.3 billion yen a year earlier. Quarterly sales were unchanged at 3.9 trillion yen ($36 billion).

Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony is reporting a 45 percent surge in fiscal third-quarter profit on tax reductions, a favorable exchange rate and gains in its music segment.

Tokyo-based Sony Corp. reported Friday a October-December profit of 429 billion yen ($3.9 billion), up from 295.9 billion yen in the same period a year earlier. Quarterly sales fell 10 percent to 2.4 trillion yen ($22 billion).

Sony raised its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March to 835 billion yen ($7.7 billion) from an earlier 705 billion yen ($6.5 billion).

Deutsche Bank made a profit in 2018 after three years of losses as it hit targets for cutting costs — but lost money in the last months of the year and faces a raft of issues including a steeply lower share price and continuing legal troubles.

The bank said Friday it made net profit of 341 million euros ($390 million), up from a loss of 735 million euros in 2017. It met a key goal of less than 23 billion euros in costs, coming in at 22.8 billion.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases January employment data today.

Economists have forecast that employers added 165,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate remained at a low 3.9 percent, according to data provider FactSet.

Also due out today, the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index for January.

But the Commerce Department will postpone releasing construction spending data for December because of the government shutdown.

On the corporate side, automakers release vehicle sales numbers for January.

And quarterly earnings reports are due from Merck & Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. before the market opens.

UNITED STATES-CHINA TRADE TALKS

Trump plans to meet Xi after US-China talks end with no deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump expects to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to try to resolve a six-month trade standoff after U.S. and Chinese negotiators ended two days of talks Thursday without settling the toughest issues that divide the world’s two biggest economies.

The White House said in a statement that the two sides had made progress but that “much work remains to be done.” In the meantime, the administration said it would keep a “hard deadline” of March 2, at which point it would escalate import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese good if there was no deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says “Based on many months of negotiations, we had two very intense and very long days of discussions,”

Lighthizer added: “We have much work to do if we’re going to have an agreement. But we made substantial progress.”

CHINA-STEALING TRADE SECRETS

From corn to Apple: The cases behind the US-China standoff

WASHINGTON (AP) — To hear the Americans tell it, the Chinese have gone on a commercial crime spree, pilfering trade secrets from seed corn to electronic brains behind wind turbines. China has stripped the arm off a T-Mobile robot, the U.S. says, and looted trade secrets about robotic cars from Apple.

The alleged victims of that crime spree are individual American companies, whose cases lie behind the Trump administration’s core complaint in the high-level U.S.-China trade talks in Washington: That Beijing systematically steals American and other foreign intellectual property in a bid to become the world’s technology superstar. Yet the odds of a resolution to the trade dispute this week — or anytime soon — appear dim, in part because China’s drive for technology supremacy is increasingly part of its self-identity.

TRUMP-PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Trump plan would channel prescription discounts to patients

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says it is moving ahead with a plan to channel behind-the-scenes prescription drug discounts directly to consumers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday his proposed regulation would encourage drugmakers, middlemen and insurers to provide any such discounts to consumers when they purchase their prescriptions.

Drugmakers don’t provide discounts for all their medications, so the impact for consumers remains to be seen.

The proposal would work by doing away with an exemption from federal anti-kickback rules that now allows drugmakers, insurers and middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate rebates among themselves.

It would be replaced with a new exemption for discounts offered directly to consumers.

FACEBOOK-APPLE BAN

Facebook says Apple is restoring key developer tool

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says Apple is restoring a key development tool that the iPhone maker disabled Wednesday.

Apple’s earlier move followed disclosure of a Facebook program that paid users, including teens, to download a “research” app that could extensively track peoples’ app and internet usage.

Apple said Facebook was abusing the tool, known as a developer enterprise certificate, to distribute the app in a way that allowed the social network to sidestep Apple restrictions on data collection.

Restoration of the certificate means Facebook can once distribute internal apps to its employees that help them test software features before users see them.

While Facebook engineers could still write code and work on the iOS apps during the shutoff, their ability to test apps in the field was limited.

SODA WARNING-SAN FRANCISCO

Beverage group cheers ruling on soda ad warnings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The American Beverage Association is cheering a ruling by a federal court that blocks a San Francisco law requiring health warnings on advertisements for soda and other sugary drinks.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Thursday that the ordinance violates constitutionally protected commercial speech.

The law is part of an effort to reduce consumption of sweet drinks as a way to combat obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The beverage association says the court’s decision affirms there are more appropriate ways to help consumers manage sugar consumption than through mandatory messages. It says it hopes to work with San Francisco on helping people make informed decisions about their diets.

The beverage association joined with retail and advertising groups to fight the law in court.

FEDERAL RESERVE-CAIN

Herman Cain for the Fed Board?

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has met with Herman Cain about an opening on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

A person familiar with the conversations downplayed the Wednesday meeting at the White House and pointed out the president is looking at multiple candidates for openings on the central bank’s board. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Cain’s potential appointment was first reported by Bloomberg.

Cain served for five years as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He also is former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Cain ran for president as a Republican, but withdrew in December 2011, shortly before the Iowa caucuses and amid a drumbeat of sexual misconduct allegations that he rejected as “false and unproven.”

SUPER BOWL-UNION

Union, league preparing “war chests” for 2021 labor talks

ATLANTA (AP) — Two years before the labor agreement with the NFL runs out, the players’ union is gathering a war chest it hopes it doesn’t need.

Union leaders, however, expect a work stoppage in 2021, while not exactly inevitable, will be difficult to avoid.

The league and union agreed on a 10-year deal in 2011 after a lockout lasted from mid-March until early August. The NFL reportedly is squirreling away funds from its broadcast deals in anticipation of a labor stalemate in 2021, and the NFLPA is using money from its highly profitable NFL Players Inc. arm to do the same.

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