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Business Highlights

January 17, 2019

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China says economy czar to visit Washington for trade talks

BEIJING (AP) — The top U.S. and Chinese trade envoys will hold talks in Washington this month in a possible sign of progress toward ending a costly tariff battle over Beijing’s technology ambitions. China says its economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to Washington for the talks Jan. 30-31. It said he was invited by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The two sides have imposed tariff hikes of up to 25 percent on tens of billions of dollars of each other’s goods.

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Brexit talks by UK’s May called a ‘stunt’ by opposition

LONDON (AP) — A weakened but defiant Prime Minister Theresa May has met lawmakers from Britain’s rival Brexit factions to try to forge a replacement for her rejected European Union exit plan. But the country’s main opposition leader branded the talks a “stunt,” and May gave little sign she would make major changes to the divorce deal tossed out by Parliament this week.

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Netflix’s solid 4Q eclipsed by projected slowing US growth

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix’s video streaming service added in more subscribers than ever during the crucial holiday season, but the company signaled its growth is slowing in the U.S. as it imposes price increases in its biggest market. The disappointing U.S. forecast issued Thursday for the opening three months of the new year overshadowed a solid earnings report covering the last year’s final quarter. Netflix’s stock sank in extended trading to reverse a rally spurred by news of the U.S. price increases.

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TSA absentee rate still high, but down from Sunday’s peak

TSA officials say the number of airport screeners calling in sick during the government shutdown has ticked lower since Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration says 6.1 percent of screeners missed work Tuesday, nearly double the normal rate but down from 7.7 percent on Sunday. A spokesman says all TSA screeners got relief this week in the form of $500 bonuses for their work over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and some got paid for one day’s work at the start of the shutdown.

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Cohen says he rigged online polls for Trump in 2014, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s estranged former lawyer is acknowledging that he paid a technology company to rig Trump’s standing in online polls in 2014 and 2015. Michael Cohen tweeted Thursday that “what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Trump. The president’s current lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani says the Trump “had no knowledge” of any effort to manipulate polling data. He called Cohen a liar.

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Microsoft pledges $500M to tackle Seattle housing crisis

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft says it will devote $500 million to address a problem its own success helped create: the severe need for affordable housing in the Seattle area. As the tech industry Microsoft brought to the region has boomed with the expansion of Amazon and other companies, the cost of housing has soared. The money will provide market-rate or below-market-rate loans to developers who want to build affordable housing.

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Morgan Stanley 4Q profit, revenue hit by volatile markets

NEW YORK (AP) — Morgan Stanley says fourth-quarter profit totaled $1.53 billion, more than double from the year-ago quarter. Earnings, adjusted for pretax gains and to account for discontinued operations, came to 73 cents per share. The results missed Wall Street expectations.

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Ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves to challenge severance denial

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS says former CEO Les Moonves is fighting the media network’s decision to deny him a $120 million severance package. CBS said in a new filing with the Securities Exchange Commission on Wednesday that Moonves has demanded binding arbitration proceedings to challenge the decision. CBS denied Moonves the payment after the board of directors determined he was fired “with cause” over sexual misconduct allegations.

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Stocks climb on report US may pare back tariffs on China

NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks finish with solid gains as investors hope the US might cut back its tariffs on imports from China. The Wall Street Journal said US officials are considering eliminating or reducing the taxes announced last year to convince China to make economic reforms. Technology, industrial and health care stocks rise. Investment bank Morgan Stanley and Signet Jewelers both slumped.

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The S&P 500 index rose 19.86 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,635.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a gain of 162.94 points, or 0.7 percent, at 24,370.10. The Nasdaq composite added 49.77 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,084.46. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 12.55 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,467.25.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 0.5 percent to $52.07 a barrel in New York, while Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 0.2 percent to $61.18 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 percent to $1.43 a gallon and natural gas added 0.9 percent to $3.41 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil slid 0.5 percent to $1.88 a gallon.

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