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Update on the latest in business:

May 14, 2019


Stocks are broadly higher

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks are broadly higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street as the market gains back about half of the ground it lost in a rout a day earlier.

Technology companies, which took a beating on Monday, led the market higher along with banks.

Communications companies were also higher. Disney rose 2.5% after announcing a deal with Comcast that will allow Disney to take full control of Hulu.

Amazon, Mattel and other companies that cater to consumers also ticked higher.

Utilities lagged the market.


Saudi Arabia says its oil pipeline was attacked by drones

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Saudi Araba says an oil pipeline that runs across the country was hit by drones west of its capital of Riyadh (rih-YAHD’), shortly after rebels in Yemen claimed they carried out coordinated drone strikes against the kingdom.

The two oil pumping stations targeted in Saudi Arabia are more than 500 miles from Yemen’s northern border with the kingdom.

The attacks follow reports of sabotage against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, with tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran.

Saudi’s Energy Minister vowed that production and export of Saudi oil would not be interrupted.

Oil prices rose, with benchmark Brent crude trading over $71 a barrel, up more than $1 on the day.


Disney takes full control of Hulu

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Disney is taking full control of Hulu, extending the reach of its streaming abilities.

Disney said Tuesday that it’s taking operational control of the streaming service immediately.

NBCUniversal owns 33% of Hulu right now. According to the agreement, Disney can demand NBCUniversal sell the remaining stake to Disney for its fair market value in the future. Disney has guaranteed a sale price that represents a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion.

Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp. also agreed to fund Hulu’s recent purchase of AT&T Inc.’s 9.5% interest in Hulu.


Courts, states investigating hotel antitrust claims

UNDATED (AP) _ Expedia and major hotel companies were already facing two federal lawsuits alleging that they conspired to stifle competition. Now they’re also being investigated by Utah’s attorney general.

In documents filed last week in Utah, the attorney general’s office revealed it’s investigating whether Marriott, Hilton and other hotel companies and Expedia violated antitrust laws.

Utah-based TravelPass Group, a tech company that matches customers to available hotel rooms, claims the hotels and Expedia worked together to limit the results of Google searches, which hurt competition and kept prices high.

TravelPass sued Expedia and the hotels in Texas last year. The allegations are also the subject of a 2018 class-action lawsuit in Illinois. Both cases are pending.

Expedia, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Caesar’s, Wyndham and Choice Hotels say they have no comment on the cases.


Philly soda tax study sees sales dip, health impact unclear

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A new study bolsters evidence that soda taxes can reduce sales, but whether they influence health remains an open question.

The research found that a Philadelphia tax imposed in 2017 led to higher prices and a 38 percent decline in soda sales that year. That’s taking into account an increase in sales in neighboring cities.

The new results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

While Americans’ soda intake has declined in recent years, physician groups including the AMA support soda taxes as a way to combat obesity. The beverage industry and many merchants have fought back, with court cases and ballot initiatives. In Pennsylvania, the state’s highest court upheld Philadelphia’s tax last year.


Hit with arrest of ex-chair Ghosn, Nissan profit nose-dives

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese automaker Nissan, reeling from the arrest of its former chairman, has seen its annual profit nose-dive to less than half of what it earned the previous year. Nissan Motor Co.’s profit for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled $2.9 billion, its worst showing since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Nissan said profit for the fiscal year through March 2020 will drop to $1.5 billion.

Nissan says efforts are underway to reshape Nissan’s business, especially in North America, where profits have dropped because of incentives and over production. Nissan’s CEO promised that Nissan’s business will be turned around over the next two or three years.


Is sea rise wrecking coastal home values? The answer: Maybe

SALISBURY, Mass. (AP) _ Some research suggests rising sea levels and flooding brought by global warming are harming coastal property values, but by exactly how much is still an open question. An advocacy group that seeks to raise awareness about sea level rise, First Street Foundation suggests climate change concerns have sapped more than $15 billion in appreciation from homes along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast. The study singles out Salisbury, Massachusetts saying Coastal homes there would be worth $200,000 to $300,000 more if not for frequent tidal flooding and powerful coastal storms.

And, in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, higher-elevation properties are appreciating faster than lower ones as companies and deep-pocketed buyers increasingly consider climate change risks according to a study in the publication Environmental Research Letters last year.

But other climate scientists note shortcomings in the studies with some researchers cautioning that they may assume overly dire projections for sea level rise.

Real estate experts say they simply haven’t seen any ebb in demand for coastal homes. The National Association of Realtors says real estate data shows prices for coastal homes are still appreciating.