FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks skid, tracking Wall St loss on tariff fears

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares posted steep declines today, adding to global stock market losses after President Donald Trump vowed to impose stiff steel and aluminum tariffs, sparking fears of a trade war.

TARIFF TROUBLE: In his latest move to follow through on campaign promises of an "America First" trade policy, Trump told industry executives he planned to levy penalties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. The tariffs would be in place for "a long period of time," though it wasn't immediately clear if certain trading partners would be exempt. The comments renewed investor concerns that increasingly nationalistic governments will impose barriers hurting the global economy and trade.

Also on investors' radar is next week's annual session of the National People's Congress. The meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament's 3,000-plus delegates is mainly ceremonial but China's communist leaders use it to publicize new initiatives and set the tone for the year's development plans. Investors will be looking to see whether Beijing brings in painful reforms to curb surging debt and overhaul state industry while widening the economy to private competitors.

Major U.S. benchmarks sold off yesterday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index tumbled 1.3 percent to 2,677.67, the third straight day it has lost at least 1 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.7 percent to 24,608.98 and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.3 percent to 7,180.56.

The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

Benchmark U.S. crude dipped slightly but remained just below $61 a barrel.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports due out today

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are no major government economic reports scheduled for release today.

But J.C. Penney Co. reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.

TRUMP-STEEL AND ALUMINUM

Trump to impose steep tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has told steel and aluminum executives that he'll impose import tariffs 'next week' in a bid to boost U.S. manufacturers.

His words to the executives: "You will have protection for the first time in a long while."

The president spoke at a hastily called meeting White House after hours of confusion over what — if anything — he was going to announce.

Trump tells reporters the import tariffs will be 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Trump ordered a Commerce Department review of imports of both metals last year. He has until April to formally decide whether to support the department's recommendation to impose tariffs.

The move has raised concerns that it could launch a trade war with China.

TRUMP-STEEL AND ALUMINUM-EU REACTION

EU responds to tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU will take retaliatory action if President Donald Trump goes ahead with his plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Juncker says, "We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry."

He says Europe "will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk."

Juncker is vowing that "the EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests."

The Commission, the EU's executive body, will make public in coming days the retaliatory action it plans to take. Juncker says the steps will be compatible with World Trade Organization rules.

TRUMP-STEEL AND ALUMINUM-CHINA REACTION

China criticizes US trade report but silent on tariff hikes

BEIJING (AP) — China has expressed "grave concern" about a U.S. trade policy report that pledges to pressure Beijing but had no immediate response to President Donald Trump's plan to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The Commerce Ministry said Friday that Beijing has satisfied its trade obligations and appealed to Washington to settle disputes through negotiation

The ministry said China "expresses grave concern" about a U.S. trade policy report issued Thursday that accuses China of moving away from market principles and pledges to prevent Beijing from disrupting global trade.

However, there was no immediate response to Trump's announcement that he will increase duties on steel and aluminum imports. Chinese officials have threatened to take "necessary measures" to defend their country's interests.

EPA-FOSSIL FUEL RULES

Trump EPA moves to roll back more clean air and water rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is rewriting Obama-era rules governing pollution from oil and gas operations and coal ash dumps, moves that opponents say will significantly weaken protections for human health and the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the changes Thursday, the latest in series of actions in the last year to roll back regulations opposed by the fossil-fuel industry. The agency says it is providing "regulatory certainty" that will save electric utilities $100 million per year in compliance costs, while oil and gas operators would reap up to $16 million in benefits by 2035.

Environmental advocates say the revisions would lead to dirtier air and water. The ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals. Oil and gas drilling releases gases that cause smog and global warming.

TWITTER-CEO MEA CULPA

Twitter CEO asks for help fixing 'civility' on Twitter

UNDATED (AP) — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is asking for help improving the openness and civility of conversation on Twitter, saying the company failed to prevent misinformation, echo chambers and abuse of its global messaging service.

In a series of tweets , Dorsey says Twitter needs to re-engineer the service to encourage more healthy debate and critical thinking. The company is now soliciting proposals for measuring the healthiness of conversation on the service in order to improve it.

In January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he would devote 2018 to fixing similar problems at Facebook.

In a related development, YouTube says its effort to crack down on misinformation with more human moderators has hit some snags, acknowledging mistakes were made in deleting some channels in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

NRA-CORPORATE REACTION

L.L. Bean raises age to 21 to buy rifles

SEATTLE (AP) — Outdoor retailer L.L. Bean will no longer sell rifles to anyone under 21.

The company joined retail heavyweights Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods in changing policies in the wake of the Florida school massacre.

L.L. Bean said in a statement late Thursday that it will no longer sell guns or ammunition to anyone under the age of 21.

Company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem says L.L. Bean only sells firearms at its flagship store in Maine and only guns specific to hunting and target shooting.

She says L.L. Bean does not carry assault-style firearms, high-capacity firearms, bump stocks or handguns of any kind.

The announcements come two weeks after a teenager killed 17 students and educators with an AR-15 rifle in Florida.

DELTA-NRA

Delta subjected to retribution in Georgia for crossing NRA

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines has been subjected to swift political retribution in its home state of Georgia for crossing the National Rifle Association.

Republicans in the Georgia legislature voted by wide margins Thursday to kill a jet fuel tax break that would have directly benefited Atlanta-based Delta. It happened five days after the airline said it would end discounted fares to NRA members in the wake of the Feb. 14 school massacre in Florida.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, told reporters he hoped Delta was "better at flying airplanes than making P.R. announcements."

The airline's decision outraged pro-gun lawmakers. GOP Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle vowed to fight back. Republicans made good on that promise with their votes Thursday.

Critics have warned the decision to punish Delta could damage Georgia's business-friendly reputation.

NO-FRILLS FLIGHTS

American to sell no-frills tickets for Europe flights

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines says it will start selling no-frills tickets on some flights to Europe in a few weeks.

American says customers who buy a "basic economy" ticket will get the cheapest available fare but they'll pay a fee to check a bag.

They also won't be able eligible for upgrades, and they'll board after most other passengers.

American says, however, that they'll get the same snacks, meals and soft drinks as other passengers in economy class.

"Basic economy" is designed to compete against discount airlines, but it also nudges some customers to buy a pricier ticket.

American's announcement Thursday matches a similar move by rival Delta Air Lines.

American says it will start selling the tickets in April but isn't saying when flights will start or where they will fly.

IRAN-BOEING

US complying with Iran deal, judge says in Boeing ruling

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge in a civil case focused on a 2003 attack by Iran-backed terrorists says the Trump administration has notified the court it's complying with the 2015 multiparty deal designed to restrict Iran's nuclear program.

The disclosure came in a new ruling by the federal judge in Chicago in which he ordered Boeing to turn over to terror-attack victims details of a $16 billion contract with Iran Air to purchase 80 commercial planes. They're seeking to collect on a longstanding, $67-million civil judgment against Iran.

President Donald Trump has criticized the nuclear deal signed during the Obama administration. And Iran has accused the U.S. of not complying with its terms.

The ruling, posted Tuesday, rejects Boeing's contention that providing details could undermine the mega-contract and the nuclear deal itself.

WEINSTEIN-SALE

Buyers revive deal for Weinstein Co. assets after talks

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of investors says it has revived a deal to buy assets of the Weinstein Co., potentially saving the beleaguered studio from bankruptcy.

The announcement Thursday came just four days after the Weinstein Co. announced it was pulling out of the sale and would file for bankruptcy for protection. However, the buyers and the company soon resumed talks, along with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had filed a lawsuit that threw a wrench in the deal.

Businesswoman Maria Contreras-Sweet is leading the investors' group. She says in a statement that her group "has reached an agreement to purchase assets from The Weinstein Company in order to launch a new company."

Contreras-Sweet called it "potential deal." It was unclear when it might be signed.

FILM-DISNEY SCHEDULE

Disney pushes 'Mulan' to 2020, moves 'Avengers' up a week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Company is shifting some film releases around including moving "Avengers: Infinity War" up one week and pushing the live-action "Mulan" back almost a year and a half.

The studio says Thursday that "Avengers: Infinity War" will now hit theaters on April 27, 2018. "Mulan" is set for March 27, 2020. The "Mulan" update recently found its lead in Chinese actress Liu Yifei after a year-long search.

Disney also set release dates for 28 untitled films through February 2023 from Marvel, Pixar and Disney live action.