Asian stocks advance despite US government shutdown

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher today after global investors shrugged off the latest U.S. government shutdown.

Investors drove U.S. stocks higher last week, setting records despite the impending government shutdown. On Friday, tThe Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,810.30 while the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2 percent to 26,071.72. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to 7,336.38.

Social Democrats voted to open talks on forming a new government for Europe's largest economy with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives after party leaders urged members to overcome their apprehensions for the good of the country. The vote was a step toward ending political gridlock that has blocked formation of a government since September's election.

The dollar edged up against the yen and weakened against the euro.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just below $63.50 per barrel.


Trust in US institutions down dramatically, survey finds

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — A new survey finds that a year on from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, trust in U.S. institutions is down sharply despite a rebounding economy and record highs in the stock market.

The survey by public relations firm Edelman is an annual assessment of trust levels around the world. The firm says that trust in the U.S. has fallen precipitously in the past year, particularly among what it terms the 'informed public.' Trust in government has fallen the most but confidence in business, media and non-governmental organizations has also dropped sharply.

On a scale of 0 to 100, trust among the general U.S. population fell nine points to 43, placing it in the lower quarter of Edelman's 28-country Trust Index. Among the 'informed public' — those aged 25-64 who are college-educated, at the upper end of the income distribution and report significant media consumption — it plunged 23 points to 45. That puts it at the lowest of the 28 countries surveyed, below Russia and South Africa.

Ironically, this is happening at a time when the U.S. economy is growing strongly, unemployment continues to edge lower and share prices are booming.

Edelman said the decline in trust levels in the U.S. in the past year is even "more profound" than after the global financial crash in 2008.

One country where trust is rising is China, which now finds itself atop Edelman's Trust index for both the general population and the 'informed public.'


Business and economic reports scheduled for the coming week

UNDATED (AP) — There are no major government economic reports scheduled for release during the early part of the week but there will be a bevy of corporate earnings news.

Netflix reports quarterly financial results after the market closes today.

Tomorrow, Johnson & Johnson reports earnings before the market opens and United Continental Holdings reports after the closing bell.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for December.

Also, Comcast reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.

Ford Motor Co. reports after the market closes.


Budget logjam continues in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) —The government shutdown will continue today.

The Senate will vote at noon on Monday on whether to cut off a Democratic filibuster of legislation to end the government shutdown.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer says there is still no agreement to pass the stopgap funding bill.

Meanwhile, as the Senate appears to inch closer to an agreement to end a shutdown, the White House says President Donald Trump won't budge on his demand that Democrats vote to reopen the government before negotiating on immigration policy.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders accuses Democrats of trying to distract from Trump's first-year accomplishments and calls on them to drop opposition to spending legislation. She says only then can leaders work together for bipartisan solutions on immigration changes.

She emphasizes Trump won't "negotiate on the status of unlawful immigrants" while Democrats, as she put it, hold the "government and our military hostage."


Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gathers

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Campaigning group Oxfam is highlighting the scale of inequality in the global economy on the eve of the annual gathering of the political and business elite in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Ahead of the World Economic Forum, Oxfam said Monday its research shows 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population while the poorest half of the world's population — 3.7 billion people — saw no increase in their wealth. The number of billionaires, it said, rose at an astonishing rate of one every two days in the year to March 2017.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International's executive director, said the "billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system."


Average US gas price jumps 4 cents to $2.58 for regular

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline jumped 4 cents nationally over the past two weeks to $2.58.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the increase is due to higher crude oil costs.

The current gas price is 22 cents above where it was a year ago.

Gas in San Francisco was the highest in the contiguous United States at an average of $3.26 a gallon. The lowest was in Tucson, Arizona, at $2.16 a gallon.

The U.S. average diesel price is $2.99, up 5 cents from two weeks ago.


'Jumanji' tops box office for third straight weekend

NEW YORK (AP) — "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" outdid another weekend's worth of newcomers to top the North American box office for the third straight weekend, making the surprise hit the fifth-highest grossing film of all time for Sony Pictures.

"Jumanji" sold $20 million in tickets, according to studio estimates Sunday, bringing its five-week domestic total to $317 million. Landing in second is Warner Bros.' war drama "12 Strong," starring Chris Hemsworth. It grossed $16.5 million in its debut weekend.

The heist thriller "Den of Thieves" slots in at third place with an opening weekend of $15.3 million. The STXfilms release stars Gerard Butler and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.


Amazon to debut cashier-less store in downtown Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon employees have been testing it, but is the public ready for a cashier-less store?

More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon is opening its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle on Monday.

The store on the bottom floor of the company's Seattle headquarters allows shoppers to scan their smartphone with the Amazon Go app at a turnstile, pick out the items they want and leave. By combining computer vision, machine learning algorithms and sensors, the online retail giant can tell what people have purchased and charges their Amazon account. If someone puts an item back, they aren't charged.

Amazon announced the store in December 2016 and said it would open by early 2017, but it delayed the debut as it worked on the technology.


Bank says executive is gone; no comment on harassment probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America has confirmed a high-profile senior executive has left the company, but it won't comment on reports of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

A spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. says Omeed Malik is no longer an employee, effective the week of Jan. 8.

The New York Times reported Friday that Malik left after a female analyst complained of inappropriate sexual conduct. The newspaper cites unidentified people at the bank who were briefed on the investigation but were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Times says it could not reach Malik or his lawyer, Mark Lerner, for comment. The Associated Press left messages for an attorney named Mark Lerner who specializes in employment law.


EPA receives 2,000 comments on Hudson River cleanup

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has received about 2,000 public comments as it reviews a $1.7 billion Superfund cleanup of the upper Hudson River.

The federal agency is expected to finalize its five-year review of the cleanup early this year. The comments from government agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals total almost 3,000 pages.

General Electric completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the river in 2015.

But New York state officials and other critics pushing for a broader cleanup say too much PCB-contaminated sediment remains in the river.

Boston-based GE has asked the EPA for a "certificate of completion" for the cleanup.


TV meteorologist behind The Weather Channel dies

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A broadcaster who co-founded The Weather Channel but later drew anger from people for his open distrust of climate change has died in Las Vegas. John Coleman was 83.

Coleman was the original meteorologist on ABC's "Good Morning America" during a six-decade broadcasting career. His wife says he died Saturday night at home but hasn't revealed the cause of his death.

The Texas native got his first TV job while still a student at the University of Illinois. He worked at several local stations in the Midwest before joining "GMA" when it launched in 1975.

He served as CEO of The Weather Channel for about a year after helping launch it in 1981.

Coleman went on to join KUSI-TV in San Diego, where he spent 20 years as weatherman for its morning show before retiring in 2014. He appeared on cable news outlets to voice his doubts about climate change.