Update on the latest in business:
Jun. 12, 2018
Asian shares mostly higher with all eyes on Trump-Kim summit
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday but little changed as market players tried to digest the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
On Wall Street yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.78 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 25,322.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,782.00 and the Nasdaq composite rose 14.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,659.93.
Investors have been waiting for the meeting between Trump and Kim, aimed at settling a standoff over the North's nuclear arsenal. Trump and Kim shook hands warmly in Singapore and then moved into a roughly 40-minute one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters, before including their advisers. North Korea has reportedly said it is willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the United States provides it with reliable security assurances and other benefits.
The Federal Reserve will start a two-day meeting on interest rates on Tuesday, wrapping up on Wednesday. Investors expect the nation's central bank to raise interest rates from their current level of 1.75 percent to 2 percent, but most attention will be on how many rate hikes Fed officials are considering doing later this year. On Friday, the Bank of Japan is due to give its latest policy update.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched ahead, remaining above $66a barrel.
The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.
WHITE HOUSE-FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
New disclosure shows growing Kushner wealth, debt
WASHINGTON (AP) — Financial disclosure forms released late Monday show that White House special adviser — and President Donald Trump's son-in-law — Jared Kushner's wealth and debt both appear to have risen over the year, an indication of the complex state of his finances and the potential conflicts that confront some of his investments.
Disclosures issued by the White House for Kushner and his wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka, showed that Kushner held assets totaling at least $181 million. His previous disclosure filed in April 2017 had showed assets in at least the $140 million range.
The financial disclosures released by the White House and filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics routinely show both assets and debts compiled in broad ranges between low and high estimates, making it difficult to precisely chart the rise and fall of the financial portfolios of federal government officials.
The White House released the disclosures for Kushner and Ivanka Trump on a heavy news day, while the world's media lavished attention on President Trump's preparations to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un for talks over nuclear weapons. The White House had released the president's own financial report last month.
A spokesman for the couple said Monday that the couple's disclosure portrayed both assets and debts that have not changed much over the past year — and stressed that Kushner and Ivanka Trump have both complied with all federal ethics rules.
The bulk of Ivanka Trump's assets — more than $50 million worth — was contained in a trust that holds her business and corporations. That trust generated over $5 million in revenue last year.
Judge spars with Justice Dept. lawyer on foreign favors suit
GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Lawyers for Maryland and the District of Columbia accused President Donald Trump in federal court Monday of "profiting on an unprecedented scale" from foreign government interests using his Washington, D.C., hotel, but a Justice Department lawyer insisted Trump isn't breaking the law because he provided no favors in return.
At issue is the Constitution's "emoluments" clause, which bans federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval. The plaintiffs argue Trump's D.C. hotel, which has become a magnet for foreign governments, harms area businesses because of the president's financial ties to its operations. No previous case on the subject has made it this far.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte peppered lawyers for both sides over their arguments Monday, and had a particularly pointed exchange over Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate's view that emoluments required a clear, provable "quid pro quo" — an exchange for an official action.
Shumate stood his ground, saying "ultimately it's a question for Congress to decide, whether to consent or not," adding that there needs to be corrupt intent for bribery.
But the judge pressed on, questioning whether "as long as the president takes the money without a corrupt intent, then it's OK?"
Trump administration lawyers have argued that earnings from such business activity, including hotel room stays, don't qualify as emoluments. They have argued that under Maryland and D.C.'s interpretation of an emolument, no federal official would even be able to own stock from a foreign company that provides profits or collects royalties.
Lawyers for Maryland and D.C. have maintained that no actual influence is necessary to establish an emoluments clause violation.
7 mayors want pot removed from federal list of illegal drugs
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Mayors from seven U.S. cities in states with legal marijuana said Monday they have formed a coalition to push for federal marijuana policy reform just days after President Donald Trump expressed support for bipartisan congressional legislation to ease the federal ban on pot.
Mayors from Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and West Sacramento — all in marijuana-friendly states — sponsored a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston that asked the U.S. government to remove cannabis from a list of illegal drugs, among other things.
Conference spokesman Larry Jones said it was approved unanimously by the broader gathering Monday.
Mayors from Oakland, California and Thornton, Colorado weren't sponsors but pledged to advocate for federal reforms.
Senate pushes back on Trump's ZTE deal with China
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led Senate is working to reverse President Donald Trump's decision to allow Chinese telecom giant ZTE to buy component parts from the U.S.
Senate leaders agreed Monday to try to undo the administration's deal with a provision to a must-pass defense package.
The Chinese company has been accused of violating sanctions by selling equipment to North Korea and Iran. After the Trump administration announced a deal with ZTE last week, Senate leaders sought to reverse it.
The defense package is expected to pass the Senate later this week, but its outcome in the House is uncertain.
Vietnam passes cybersecurity law despite concerns
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese legislators have passed a contentious cybersecurity law, which critics say will hurt the economy and further restrict freedom of expression.
The Communist Party-dominated assembly passed the law by a majority on Tuesday. The law requires service providers such as Google and Facebook to store user data in Vietnam, open offices in the country and remove offending contents within 24 hours at the request of authorities.
Addressing the assembly before the vote, the chairman of the Committee on Defense and Security says the law is necessary to defend the interests of the people and national security.
The U.S. has called on Vietnam to delay the passage of legislation.
The Vietnam Digital Communications Association says the law may reduce GDP by 1.7 percent and wipe out foreign investment by 3.1 percent.
Seattle poised to repeal new tax opposed by Amazon
SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle leaders said Monday that they plan to repeal a tax on large companies like Amazon and Starbucks as they face mounting pressure from businesses, an about-face just a month after unanimously approving the measure to help pay for efforts to combat a growing homelessness crisis.
The quick surrender showed the power of Amazon to help rally opposition and aggressively push back on taxes at all levels of government, even in its affluent home city where the income gap is ever widening and lower-income workers are being priced out of housing. It has resulted in one of the highest homelessness rates in the U.S.
A coalition of businesses is working to get a referendum on the November ballot to overturn the tax.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and seven of nine City Council members said they worked with a range of groups to pass a measure last month that would strike a balance between protecting jobs and supporting affordable housing.
Amazon and other businesses had sharply criticized the tax, and the online retailer even temporarily halted construction planning on a new high-rise building near its Seattle headquarters ahead of the vote.
It marks the latest Amazon move against city, state and national taxes.
Science panel says the FAA is too tough on drones
Science advisers to the federal government say safety regulators are hindering the spread of commercial drones by being too cautious about the risks posed by the flying machines.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine said in a report Monday that federal safety regulators need to balance the overall benefits of drones instead of treating them the same way that they oversee airliners.
Academy experts said in a strongly worded report that the Federal Aviation Administration tilts against proposals for commercial uses of unmanned aircraft without considering their potential to reduce other risks and save lives.
For example, they said, when drones are used to inspect cell-phone towers, it reduces the risk of making workers climb up the towers.
The study on the FAA's work on integrating drones into the nation's airspace was requested by Congress last year.
In a statement, an FAA spokesman said the agency was working to safely speed the integration of drones into the airspace. The science board's recommendations match the FAA's efforts "and we see them as an endorsement of our efforts and encouragement to accelerate our efforts," he said.
NET NEUTRALITY ROLLBACK
Your internet use could change as 'net neutrality' ends
NEW YORK (AP) — Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change — though not right away — following the official demise Monday of Obama-era internet protections.
Any changes are likely to happen slowly, as companies assess how much consumers will tolerate.
The repeal of "net neutrality" took effect six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to undo the rules, which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix.
Internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast had to treat all traffic equally. They couldn't slow down or block websites and apps of their choosing. Nor could they charge Netflix and other video services extra to reach viewers more smoothly. The rules also barred a broadband provider from, say, slowing down Amazon's shopping site to extract business concessions.
Now, all that is legal as long as companies post their policies online.
The change comes as broadband and cellphone providers expand their efforts to deliver video and other content to consumers.
With net neutrality rules gone, AT&T and Verizon can give priority to their own movies and TV shows, while hurting rivals such as Amazon, YouTube and startups yet to be born.
The battle isn't entirely over, though. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending. Also, the Senate voted to save net neutrality, though that effort isn't likely to become law.