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Update on the latest in business:

April 19, 2018


Asian shares, oil prices rise on upbeat global outlook

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares rose and oil prices touched fresh multi-year highs on Thursday as improving optimism about the global economy helped investors shake off worries about geopolitical risks for the moment.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China gained 0.9 percent.

On Wall Street, major U.S. benchmarks finished mostly higher. The S&P 500 index rose 0.1 percent to 2,708.64. The Dow Jones industrial average 0.2 percent to 24,748.07. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.2 percent to 7,295.24.


Major business and economic reports due out today

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac releases its report on this week’s average mortgage rates today.


Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s latest survey of economic conditions around the country finds growing concern among businesses about the adverse impact higher tariffs could have on their firms and the overall economy.

The Fed reports that the economic outlook remains positive with growth continuing at a moderate pace in the central bank’s 12 regions. But the report also says various industries from manufacturing to farming and transportation are worried about possible penalty tariffs on China and also on imports of steel and aluminum.

The report says there were widespread reports that steel prices were already rising, “sometimces dramatically.”

The report, known as the beige book, will be considered by Fed officials when they next meet on May 1-2 to discuss interest rates. The Fed last boosted rates in March.


Abe says Japanese steel would be hard to replace

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country’s steel and aluminum supplies “would not exert any negative influence” on the security of the United States.

Abe says in a joint news conference with President Donald Trump that the quality of Japan’s steel and aluminum products is high and would be difficult to replace.

Japan has pushed for the U.S. to exempt the country from recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump says at the end of two days of meeting with Abe at his Florida estate that the tariffs have gotten the U.S. “to the bargaining table with many nations” and in many cases foreign countries are paying the tariffs to the U.S.

Trump says he has agreed to intensify discussions with Japan on trade and investment issues.

And he says he’s asking the U.S. Trade Representative to take the lead.


US sorghum growers fear China tariffs could cost them dearly

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — American sorghum farmers fear they will lose their largest export market if China follows through with a tariff on their crop.

China imposed preliminary anti-dumping tariffs of 178.6 percent on U.S. sorghum this week as part of its ongoing trade dispute with the U.S.

President Donald Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods to counteract what he says are that country’s unfair trade policies.

Sorghum farmer Don Bloss in southeast Nebraska says the tariff news isn’t enough for him to change what he plants this year, but farmers will have to adjust if the tariff is enacted.

Last year, Chinese buyers purchased more than 90 percent of the 245 million bushels of sorghum America exported.


Amazon says it has more than 100 million paid Prime members

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says it has more than 100 million paid Prime members, the first time the company has given out a specific number on its paid subscriber base.

CEO Jeff Bezos said in the company’s annual letter to shareholders on Wednesday that Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items with Prime worldwide. The service offers free, unlimited two-day shipping for an annual or monthly fee.

Previously, the Seattle-based company has put the number at “tens of millions,” and estimates have been as high as 90 million.


Regulators to require inspections after jet engine explosion

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — U.S. airline regulators say they will order inspections on engine fan blades like the one involved in a fatal failure that killed a woman in a plane that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will issue a directive in the next two weeks to require ultrasonic inspections of CFM56-7B engines after reaching a certain number of takeoffs.

The FAA decision comes nearly a year after the engine’s manufacturer CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, recommended that airlines using certain CFM56 engines conduct ultrasonic inspections to look for cracks.

Federal investigators say initial findings show that Tuesday’s emergency was caused by a fan blade that snapped off, leading to debris hitting the Southwest Airlines 737 and a woman being partially blown out a window. She later died.

Metal fatigue was also blamed for an engine failure on a Southwest plane in Florida in 2016.


US to chip in for Boeing’s cleanup costs at bomber plant

SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. government has agreed to chip in $51 million to clean up pollution at a Seattle site where The Boeing Co. made and tested B-17, B-52 and other bomber planes beginning in World War II.

Boeing had sought to have the government pay for a share of the company’s cleanup costs, which it says have reached $220 million and counting. The Departments of Defense, Commerce and other agencies agreed in a proposed settlement filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

In a lawsuit filed along with the settlement agreement, Boeing argued that the United States owned many of the buildings as well as machinery at the site from 1940 until 1966, when it sold much of the property to Boeing.

The company said the government dictated the type and number of planes built, and that the government is responsible for some of the cleanup.


Miss America pageant gets funding to stay in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials have approved $4.3 million in state subsidies to keep the 2019 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.

The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved the funding Tuesday after months of uncertainty over the pageant’s future.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that the pageant’s contract was under scrutiny after emails surfaced showing the Miss America CEO disparaging the appearance and intellect of former pageant winners.

Sam Haskell resigned as CEO in December 2017, along with other board members. The pageant is now led by former Fox News Channel anchor and 1998 Miss America Gretchen Carlson.

The chairman of the authority board of directors says officials were encouraged by the pageant’s description of the 2019 competition as having a focus on women’s empowerment.


Wynn Resorts expands board of directors, adds 3 women

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts has expanded its board of directors to 11 members with the appointment of three women.

The appointments were announced Wednesday and bring the number of women on the board to four.

The changes come months after shareholders filed lawsuits alleging breach of fiduciary duties against board members following a news report on sexual misconduct allegations against founder Steve Wynn.

Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO and later sold his company shares after the Wall Street Journal reported that several women said he harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement. He denies the allegations.

Wynn has filed a defamation lawsuit against The Associated Press for its reporting on a separate allegation made to police.


Board reveals austerity measures in Puerto Rico fiscal plans

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — New austerity measures are looming for Puerto Rico as a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory’s finances prepares to approve several fiscal plans that will serve as the island’s economic blueprint for the next five years.

Plans released Wednesday call for a 10 percent average cut to a public pension system facing nearly $50 billion in liabilities as well as significant reductions in government subsidies to municipalities and Puerto Rico’s largest public university.

The plans anticipate a more than $6 billion surplus over five years as the island’s government seeks to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt load amid an 11-year recession.

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