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Update on the latest business

January 30, 2019


Stocks rally

NEW YORK (AP) — Strong results from Boeing and Apple are helping to send stocks higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track to rise after two days of losses.

Apple rose 4.8 percent after reporting results that weren’t as bad as analysts feared.

Boeing jumped 6.6 percent after reporting annual revenue of more than $100 billion for the first time.

Traders are also watching trade talks between the U.S. and China which resumed in Washington, as well as an upcoming policy statement from the Federal Reserve.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.73 percent.


Survey: Businesses added a strong 213,000 jobs in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses added a solid 213,000 jobs in January, a private survey found, a sign the partial government shutdown and trade war concerns aren’t discouraging companies from hiring more people.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that job gains fell in January from a robust 263,000 in December, which was revised slightly lower.

ADP’s report does not include government employees and therefore was not directly affected by the government shutdown. Instead, the data suggests that the shutdown did not broadly discourage private companies from adding workers. Still, the ADP report frequently diverges from the official figures.

The report was released two days before the government issues its official monthly jobs numbers Friday. Economists are forecasting a smaller gain of 164,000, though that is enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.


US pending home sales fell 2.2 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in December with affordability pressures causing interest from would-be buyers to fall.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its pending home sales index fell 2.2 percent last month to 99, its lowest reading since April 2014. The index based on contract signings has plunged 9.8 percent over the past 12 months.

Home sales declined in 2018 as the combination of higher mortgage rates, relatively low inventories and price gains consistently outpaced wage growth. The decline in sales has caused price gains in housing to weaken, yet it remains to be seen whether that will produce a rebound this year.

Pending sales are a barometer of home purchases that are completed a month or two later.


The Latest: US-China trade talks begin


U.S. and Chinese negotiators have opened two days of high-level talks aimed at settling a six-month trade war.

Leading the American delegation is U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who welcomed the Chinese group on Wednesday. The Chinese team is headed by Vice Premier Liu He.

Lighthizer engaged in light-hearted banter about last year’s dinner meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping in Argentina.

The ongoing trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies has weakened both sides, shaken financial markets and clouded the outlook for the global economy.

A substantive resolution is not expected this week though a March 2 deadline looms. That’s when the Trump administration is scheduled to increase its tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.


Boeing soars and lifts markets with it

CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing reported annual revenue of more than $100 billion for the first time and shares soared after the company easily beat Wall Street’s profit and sales expectations for the fourth quarter.

The big numbers from the plane maker, which is heavily exposed to trade standoff between the U.S. and China, pushed the Dow higher at the opening bell Wednesday.

The Trump administration has imposed penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from a number of countries and on $250 billion of Chinese imports as the administration seeks to apply pressure to other countries to reduce their barriers to American exports. China and other nations have retaliated by imposing penalty tariffs on U.S. exports, sparking a tit-for-tat trade war.

In that environment, Boeing in the final three months of the year delivered 238 commercial airplanes in the quarter, up 14 percent from the same period last year.

Boeing expects full-year 2019 earnings in the range of $19.90 to $20.10 per share, with revenue in the range of $109.5 billion to $111.5 billion.


McDonald’s logs strong growth globally

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s says modernized stores and growth in delivery helped bring in more customers globally last year, but lower store traffic in the U.S. remains a concern.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain said sales rose 4.4 percent at established locations in the fourth quarter and 4.5 percent for the year. McDonald’s President and Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook said the October-December period was the 14th straight quarter that McDonald’s has seen global same-store sales growth. He said 2018 was the second consecutive year that McDonald’s global guest count rose, an achievement not seen since 2012.

Some markets, like the Netherlands and Italy, reported double-digit percentage sales growth in the fourth quarter. But the picture was mixed in the U.S., which is home to almost 40 percent of McDonald’s 36,000 restaurants.

U.S. same-store sales were up 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter, driven by higher prices.


Tyson recalls some chicken nuggets, contamination possible

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tyson Foods is recalling more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets because they may be contaminated with rubber.

The U.S. Agriculture Department says there were consumer complaints about extraneous material in 5-pound packages of Tyson White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets. There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

The packages have a best if used by date of Nov. 26, 2019 and the case code 3308SDL03. The establishment core P-13556 is inside the USDA inspection mark.

The nuggets should be thrown out or returned to the place of purchase.

Tuesday’s recall comes after Perdue Foods recalled more than 16,000 pounds of chicken nuggets because of an undeclared allergen, milk.


Foxconn changes focus of massive Wisconsin project

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group is changing the focus of its planned $10 billion Wisconsin campus, while insisting it remains committed to creating 13,000 jobs as promised.

The world’s leading electronics manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday that because of a changed global marketplace, all of its projects including the one in Wisconsin are being “adjusted to meet these new realities.”

The statement comes after Foxconn official Louis Woo told Reuters in a story published Wednesday that its plans to build liquid crystal display panel screens are being scaled back and possibly shelved.

Woo says the Taiwanese company wants to create a “technology hub” largely consisting of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations. He says about three-quarters of the jobs created will be in research and development and design, rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.

Wisconsin’s Republican legislative leaders are blaming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for the decision, saying the new governor has brought a “wave of economic uncertainty” to the state. Evers has been critical of $4 billion in government tax credits for Foxconn.


Japan’s Nikkei: Ghosn says arrest due to plot within Nissan

TOKYO (AP) — The major Japanese business newspaper Nikkei says Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn (gohn) blames his arrest for alleged falsifying of financial reports and breach of trust on a “plot” by other executives at the Japanese automaker.

Nikkei said it interviewed Ghosn on Wednesday for 20 minutes at the Tokyo Detention Center, where he has been held since Nov. 19. It was his first media interview since his arrest.

The report cited Ghosn as saying that Nissan Motor Co. leaders had discussed a merger between Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault.

It said Ghosn reiterated his insistence that he is innocent. He said others in the company complained he had too much power because they wanted to get rid of him.


Feds indict powerful Philly union boss, councilman, others

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A powerful union boss who has long held a tight grip on construction jobs in the Philadelphia region and wielded political power in the city and Statehouse has been indicted on embezzlement and fraud charges along with a city councilman who allegedly did his bidding, and six others.

Johnny “Doc” Dougherty exerted complete control over the union, according to the 116-count indictment, using that power to “repeatedly and persistently steal its funds and put his own self-interests over that of the membership.” All told, the defendants misspent more than $600,000 in union funds, officials said.

The 58-year-old Dougherty leads the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, with 5,000 members, along with the city’s Building Trades Council, an umbrella group with more than 70,000 members. He has been at the helm of the century-old electricians union for 25 years.

The union over the years has emerged as a major political donor, spending tens of millions of dollars through its political action committees, mostly to help Democrats in Pennsylvania.


New Jersey’s top court won’t hear ex-NFL star’s appeal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Supreme Court won’t hear a request from former NFL star Irving Fryar to overturn his conviction for his role in a mortgage scam.

The court announced its decision Tuesday but did not elaborate.

Fryar and his mother were convicted in August 2015 of applying for mortgage loans in quick succession while using the same property as collateral. They eventually were found guilty of conspiracy and theft by deception.

Fryar’s defense argued at trial he was the victim of a “con artist” who told him to carry out the scheme.

Fryar was a star wide receiver at the University of Nebraska and played in the NFL in the 1980s and 1990s for the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.


Apple busts Facebook for distributing data-sucking app

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use.

The tech blog TechCrunch reports that Facebook paid about $20 a month. While Facebook says this was done with permission, the company has a history of defining “permission” loosely and obscuring what data it collects.

Facebook says fewer than 5 percent of the app’s users were teens and they had parental permission. Nonetheless, the revelation is yet another blemish on Facebook’s track record on privacy and could invite further regulatory scrutiny.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook sidestepped Apple’s app store and its tighter rules on privacy. Apple says Facebook was using a distribution mechanism meant for company employees, not outsiders, so Apple has revoked that capability.


Where’s my robot lawn mower? Roomba-maker now has an answer

BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — Building a robot lawn mower seemed the logical next step for iRobot, the company behind the Roomba vacuum robot.

But the Massachusetts company’s secret lawn mower project was a lot harder than anyone expected.

Now, iRobot finally has something to show after more than a decade of development. Its first robot lawn mower is called Terra and is being unveiled Wednesday.

IRobot CEO and co-founder Colin Angle says the struggle to build Terra has been an obsessive journey of “despair and frustration.”

The mower navigates using technology better known by radio astronomers.

Angle says it was a struggle to build a robot that meets U.S. cultural standards for cutting a perfect lawn. But the robot will first launch in Germany, where there’s already a growing market for robotic mowers.

Update hourly