Update on the latest in business:
Asian stocks sink after Fed’s hike signal, Trump-Kim summit
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks slumped today after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate and said it would pick up the pace of future increases. South Korea’s market benchmark tumbled nearly 2 percent on the first trading day after a meeting of U.S. and North Korean leaders.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 1.1 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.1 percent.
Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian markets were also lower.
THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic events scheduled for Thursday:
WASHINGTON (AP) — In today’s economic reports, the Commerce Department will release retail sales data for May and business inventories for April.
Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates.
BATTLE FOR FOX
Comcast challenges Disney with $65B bid for Fox
NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast made a $65 billion bid Wednesday for Fox’s entertainment businesses, setting up a battle with Disney to become the next mega-media company.
The bid comes just a day after a federal judge cleared AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner and rejected the government’s argument that it would hurt competition in cable and satellite TV and jack up costs to consumers for streaming TV and movies. The ruling signaled that Comcast could win regulatory approval, too; its bid for Fox shares many similarities with the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
Comcast says its cash bid is 19 percent higher than the value of Disney offer as of Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal and others reported earlier that Comcast had lined up $60 billion in cash to challenge Disney for media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s company. Disney’s offer was for $52.5 billion when it was made in December, though the final value will depend on the stock price at the closing.
Fed uncertain on banking for marijuana firms
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says the U.S. central bank has not resolved how financial institutions should deal with marijuana businesses.
Marijuana usage is permitted in some states, but not by federal law. Powell says the disparity puts Fed regulators in a very difficult position and that the Fed would love to see the hazy issue clarified.
He made the comments at a news conference following a Fed meeting at which the central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year.
White House defends allowing China’s ZTE to buy US parts
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is defending President Donald Trump’s decision to allow Chinese telecom giant ZTE to resume buying component parts from the U.S. — a move the Republican-led Senate is working to reverse.
In a statement, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley pointed to “massive penalties” imposed on ZTE as part of what he described as “an historic enforcement action” by the Commerce Department.
The changes, Gidley said, “will ensure ZTE pays for its violations and gives our government complete oversight of their future activity without undue harm to American suppliers and their workers.”
The deal announced last week with China allows ZTE Corp. to stay in business in exchange for paying a $1 billion penalty, replacing its top managers and agreeing to let U.S. regulators monitor its operations.
Worker protections seen at risk in Trump health care shift
WASHINGTON (AP) — Legal and insurance experts say the Trump administration’s latest move against “Obamacare” could jeopardize legal protections on pre-existing medical conditions for millions of people with employer coverage.
Workers in small businesses would be most at risk.
At issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent decision that the Justice Department will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court.
That includes the law’s unpopular requirement to carry health insurance, but also widely supported provisions that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker customers.
Apple closing iPhone security gap used by law enforcement
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is closing a security gap that allowed outsiders to pry personal information from locked iPhones without a password, a change that will thwart law enforcement agencies that exploited the vulnerability to collect evidence in criminal investigations.
The loophole will be shut down in a forthcoming update to Apple’s iOS software, which powers iPhones.
Once fixed, iPhones will no longer be vulnerable to intrusion via the Lightning port used both to transfer data and to charge iPhones. The port will still function after the update, but will shut off data an hour after a phone is locked.
Apple says it respects the jobs of law enforcement officials, but believes it must protect its customers from “hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data.”
AUTO WORKERS-NEW PRESIDENT
Auto workers union picks Gary Jones as new president
DETROIT (AP) — Members of the United Auto Workers union have elected regional director Gary Jones as the organization’s new president.
Jones was picked in a roll-call vote Wednesday at the union’s 2018 constitutional convention in Detroit.
He’ll take over a 400,000-member union that’s facing a federal investigation in a corruption scandal involving a worker training center run jointly by Fiat Chrysler and the union. The UAW also has had trouble organizing at factories in the South run by foreign-based automakers.
But its finances have stabilized under President Dennis Williams, who is retiring.
Chicago taps Musk company to build express line to O’Hare
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago has chosen a company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk to build an express service from downtown to O’Hare International Airport reaching speeds up to 150 mph.
A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed the selection of The Boring Company on Wednesday night. Emanuel and Musk will make the formal announcement Thursday.
Adam Collins says the service will transport passengers between O’Hare and downtown in roughly 12 minutes using electric vehicles that will run through two underground tunnels. Collins says The Boring Company will fund the project in its entirety.
The company says on its website that the vehicles will carry eight to 16 people and travel at speeds of 125 to 150 mph.
Emanuel says the move strengthens “our great city for future generations.”
The Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line trains currently provide transportation from stops across the city to the airport.
Samsung commits to using only renewable energy by 2020
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, has pledged to convert its operations in the United States, Europe and China to using only solar and other renewable energy by 2020.
With today’s announcement, the tech giant joins Apple and other Silicon Valley companies in making such a commitment, but it faces bigger challenges due to its vast factory network, while other companies use outside contractors for manufacturing.
Samsung, also a major producer of computer chips, said its plans include installing 42,000 square meters (420,000 square feet) of solar panels this year at its headquarters in Suwon, South Korea.
South Korea gets 6 percent of its energy from renewable sources, relying on coal and nuclear power for the rest.
SCHOOL SHOOTING VIDEO GAME
Developer defends school-shooting game as victims complain
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The developer of a school-shooting video game is vowing to continue selling it online as parents of slain children and other mass shooting victims work to get the game wiped off the internet.
The “Active Shooter” game was created by Anton Makarevskiy, a 21-year-old developer from Moscow, Russia. It’s being marketed by his entity Acid Software. Acid said in a Twitter posting Tuesday that it will not be censored and cited free expression rights.
The game is branded as a “SWAT simulator” that lets players choose between being an active shooter terrorizing a school or the SWAT team responding to the shooting. Players can choose a gun, grenade or knife, and civilian and police death totals are shown on the screen. Acid had been selling an early version of the game online for $20 and plans to release a new version next month.
IVANA TRUMP-DIET PROMOTION
Ivana Trump promotes Italian weight-loss diet system
NEW YORK (AP) — Ivana Trump, the former wife of President Donald Trump who once appeared with him in a commercial for Pizza Hut, wants America to lose some weight.
The businesswoman on Wednesday launched a promotional campaign for an Italian weight-loss diet system that offers packaged meals of specially made pastas, soups and drinks.
Trump held a press conference at The Plaza hotel, at one time owned by her former husband, to announce “The Italiano Diet” along with its creator, Italian nutritionist Gianluca Mech.
The 45-day luxury kit for women sells for $749 on the diet system’s website.
No Coke, No Pepsi: Bottlers leave Mexican city hit by crime
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexicans are among the biggest soda drinkers in the world. So residents of the southern city of Ciudad Altamirano were worried when first Coca-Cola then Pepsi closed their distribution centers amid drug gang extortion demands.
Guerrero state security spokesman Roberto Alvarez said Wednesday that while Pepsi hasn’t explained why its distributor in the steamy city closed over the weekend, authorities are “not ruling out that criminal groups have been pressuring (the company) to extort money from them.”
That was largely the reason why a Coca-Cola plant there closed in March.
Old Forester returns to roots with new Kentucky distillery
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Old Forester, the bourbon that launched a family dynasty and a spirits company, has returned to its pre-Prohibition Kentucky home in a newly renovated building that symbolizes the brand’s comeback.
The Old Forester Distilling Co. opens its doors to tourists Friday along a stretch of downtown Louisville known as Whiskey Row for its historic ties to Kentucky’s bourbon industry.
Bourbon tourism has matured into big business in Kentucky and Old Forester is tapping into the strategy.
Visitors to the new distillery can take in the sights and smells of bourbon making all under one roof.
The $45 million distillery, able to produce a portion of Old Forester’s inventory, as well as a lineup of craft bourbons, is the surest sign yet of the venerable brand’s revival in the competitive bourbon market.