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Update on the latest in business:

May 8, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

US-China trade fears unnerve investors, pulling shares lower

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares skidded in Asia today after the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 470 points overnight amid mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.8% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.7%. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gave up 0.6%.

The Shanghai Composite edged 0.1% lower after China reported its exports fell 2.7% in April.

A broad sell-off on Wall Street pulled the Dow 1.8%, or 473.39 points, lower on Tuesday to 25,965.09 as the U.S. and China moved closer to an escalation of their already costly trade war.

The U.S. and China have raised tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of each other’s goods in their dispute over U.S. complaints about Chinese technology ambitions.

Also on Wall Street yesterday, the S&P 500 index slumped 1.7% to 2,884.05. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, fell 2% to 7,963.76, while the Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 2% to $1,582.31. Major indexes in Europe also finished lower.

TRUMP TAXES

Newspaper: Trump lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) — The New York Times reports that Donald Trump’s businesses lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994, based on tax information the newspaper acquired.

The Times reported Tuesday that it acquired printouts from the future president’s official IRS tax transcripts, including figures from his federal tax form. The newspaper says Trump reported business losses of $46.1 million in 1985, and a total of $1.17 billion in losses for the 10-year period.

After comparing Trump’s information with that of other “high-income earners,” the Times concluded that Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.” Because of his business losses, the newspaper reported, Trump did not pay income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

The House Ways and Means Committee has asked the IRS to provide Trump’s personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday refused to do so, saying the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

CHINA-TRADE

China’s April exports fall amid US tariff war; imports rise

BEIJING (AP) — China’s April exports fell 2.7% from a year ago amid the country’s tariff war with Washington, while imports rebounded to 4% growth.

The data reported today come ahead of a new round of talks aimed at ending the fight with the Trump administration over Beijing’s technology ambitions.

The export figure was a striking decline from March’s 14.2% growth and reflected weakening global demand as well as U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese goods.

Imports recovered from the previous month’s 7.6 % decline in a new sign that government efforts to reverse an economic downturn might be gaining traction.

GASOLINE-PRICES

US raises forecast for summer gasoline prices

UNDATED (AP) — Gasoline for that summer road trip will cost a bit more than experts in the federal government were expecting just a month ago.

The government is also predicting higher crude prices, as higher U.S. production is offset by declines elsewhere.

The Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. oil production will hit a record 12.45 million barrels a day this year and rise again to 13.38 million barrels a day in 2020.

The energy agency raised its forecast for the national average gasoline price through September to $2.92 a gallon from $2.76 a month ago.

If the new forecast is right, prices will average 7 cents more than last summer, partly due to higher margins for refining gasoline.

WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-COAL FINES

Feds sue WV governor’s coal companies over safety violations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. government has sued nearly two dozen of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s coal companies to get them to pay about $4.8 million in unpaid mine safety fines.

The civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Virginia on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Authorities say Justice’s companies committed more than 2,000 federal Mine Health and Safety Act violations since 2014 but have refused to pay the penalties.

All 23 companies are listed in the governor’s most recent financial disclosure form and they operate in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

Voicemail and email messages left with the governor’s office were not immediately returned.

WAYMO-LYFT

Google spinoff, Lyft team up to offer self-driving car rides

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google’s self-driving car spinoff Waymo is teaming up with Lyft in Arizona to attempt to lure passengers away from ride-hailing market leader Uber.

The alliance will allow anyone with the Lyft app in the Phoenix area to summon one of the 10 self-driving Waymo cars joining the ride-hailing service.

Waymo’s robotic vehicles will still have a human behind the wheel to take control in case something goes awry with the technology. But their use in Lyft’s service could make more people feel comfortable about riding in self-driving cars.

Both Lyft and Uber consider self-driving cars to be one of the keys to turning a profit, something neither company has done so far.

The new threat to Uber is emerging as the company prepares to go public this week.

UBER LYFT-STRIKE

Uber, Lyft drivers plan to strike in cities across the US

NEW YORK (AP) — Drivers for ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are planning to turn off their apps to protest what they say are declining wages at a time when both companies are raking in billions of dollars from investors.

Organizers are planning demonstrations in 10 U.S. cities today, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

They’re timing their protests in advance of Uber’s initial public stock offering, which is planned for Friday. Uber aims to raise $9 billion from investors.

It’s not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft’s IPO last month, although the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal. This time more cities are participating.

CHINA-IMPLANTS

Chinese researchers try brain implants to treat drug addicts

SHANGHAI (AP) — Clinical trials in China using deep brain stimulation or DBS may hold the key to treating drug users, literally with the flip of a switch.

China is emerging as a hub for this research as Western attempts to push forward with human trials have foundered.

The surgery has long been used to treat a number of illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. Critics say using the electronic brain implants for drug addiction, while promising, is risky.

But suffering wrought by the opioid crisis is changing that view. A new human trial of deep brain stimulation for opioid addicts in West Virginia could start as early as June.

BEVERLY HILLS-TOBACCO BAN

Proposed tobacco ban sparks fiery debate in Beverly Hills

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A fiery debate is breaking out across Beverly Hills as the city weighs whether it should become the first in the U.S. to outlaw the sale of tobacco products everywhere except a few cigar lounges.

The council decided Tuesday night to make some changes to the proposal, such as allowing guests in the city’s luxury hotels to acquire cigarettes through their concierge or room service. Members indicated they plan to pass the amended measure May 21.

California is among at least 25 states that outlaw smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars. It also has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country — nearly $3 a pack.

Beverly Hills already restricts the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.