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Update on the latest in business:

August 9, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Chinese stocks jump, other markets mixed as trade in focus

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Chinese stocks surged while other markets in Asia remained mixed today, as investors watched the latest developments on trade disputes between the United States and China. Prices of oil stabilized.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.9 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 percent while South Korea’s Kospi inched up 0.2 percent. Stocks in Taiwan, the Philippines and in Indonesia were lower.

On Wall Street Wednesday, U.S. stock markets finished lower, ending a four-day winning streak. The S&P 500 index dipped 0.75 points to 2,857.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 45.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 25,583.75. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,888.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks lost 1.42 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,686.88.

TESLA

Tesla CEO’s buyout bid raises eyebrows, legal concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seeking relief from the pressures of running a publicly held company with a $72 billion buyout of the electric car maker, but he may be acquiring new headaches with his peculiar handling of the proposed deal.

Almost everything about the deal is outlandish, from Musk’s out-of-the-blue disclosure in a nine-word tweet to the assertion that he has lined up adequate financing to a buy a company that seems to burn through cash faster than it produces cars.

If Musk can pull it off, he will have burnished his reputation as an eccentric visionary who has been compared to Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy depicted by actor Robert Downey Jr. in the “Iron Man” movies.

But if the buyout flops, Musk and Tesla will likely face class-action lawsuits from shareholders alleging they were duped, and potential legal trouble from the Securities and Exchange Commission, too.

The SEC already has opened an inquiry into the wording and method of Musk’s disclosure about the deal, according to a Wednesday report in The Wall Street Journal , which cited unidentified people familiar with the matter.

IMMIGRATION-BUSINESSES TARGETED

Immigration raids in Nebraska, Minnesota target businesses

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A large federal law enforcement operation conducted Wednesday targeted businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota that officials say knowingly hired — and mistreated — immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

The investigative arm of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement — Homeland Security Investigations — led the operation that saw about a dozen businesses and plants raided and 17 business owners and managers indicted for fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Of those, 14 were taken into custody Wednesday and three were still being sought. Authorities also arrested more than 130 workers at various businesses, busing them to Grand Island, Nebraska, to be questioned and processed.

Most of the arrests occurred in northern Nebraska and southern Minnesota. Several of the businesses were in O’Neill, Nebraska, a town of about 3,000 about 160 miles (260 kilometers) northwest of Omaha. Officials said they were still looking to take three owners or managers into custody as part of the operation.

CONGRESSMAN-STOCK INDICTMENT

GOP congressman from New York charged with insider trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins of New York was arrested Wednesday on charges he fed inside information he gleaned from sitting on the board of a biotechnology corporation to his son, helping family and friends dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses when one of the company’s drugs failed in a medical trial.

Collins, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who was among the first sitting members of Congress to endorse his candidacy for the White House, pleaded not guilty to an indictment unsealed at a court in Manhattan. The indictment charges Collins, his son and the father of the son’s fiancee with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.

Speaking to reporters in Buffalo hours after his release on bail, Collins, 68, professed his innocence and said he would remain on the ballot for re-election this fall.

Prosecutors said the charges stem from Collins’ decision to share with his son insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17 percent of its shares, and sat on its board.

CALIFORNIA GAS LEAK

Huge Los Angeles gas leak leads to $120 million settlement

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials say a Southern California utility reached a nearly $120 million settlement over a massive blowout at a natural gas storage field that became the nation’s largest known release of climate-changing methane and forced thousands to flee their Los Angeles homes almost three years ago.

The settlement between Southern California Gas Co. and state and local governments aims to mitigate the greenhouse gases that spewed uncontrollably for nearly four months. The October 2015 blowout at an Aliso Canyon well sickened residents of the San Fernando Valley and led to evacuations of 8,000 homes.

Under the settlement, the utility agreed to pay up to $25 million for a study of long-term health consequences; reimburse city, county and state governments for responding to the blowout; monitor chemicals in the air along the boundary of the facility for eight years; and not pass costs of the settlement along to ratepayers.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the tentative deal, which will be open to public comment and requires court approval, addressed violations of health and safety codes, the illegal discharge of air contaminants and failure to report the release of hazardous materials.

TAXI TURMOIL

NYC moves to rein in Uber with cap on ride-hail vehicles

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City moved Wednesday to regulate the explosive growth of Uber and other app-based ride services with a temporary cap on new licenses for ride-hailing services.

The City Council approved a package of bills that included a one-year moratorium on new licenses for for-hire vehicles while the city studies the rapidly changing industry. The legislation also will allow the city to set a minimum wage for app-based drivers.

Backers of the proposals said both the traditional yellow cab industry and drivers for app-based services are suffering as Uber cars flood the city’s streets. They said the growth of ride-hailing apps has also worsened traffic congestion.

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said the councils’ vote set a precedent for the world as companies like Uber and Lyft use technological innovation “to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet.”

But Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said the pause on new vehicle licenses “will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion.”

TAX OVERHAUL-SMALL BUSINESS-WINNERS & LOSERS

Who’s in, out in small business tax break? It’s complicated

WASHINGTON (AP) — Architects and engineers are still in. Accountants, doctors and lawyers remain out — mostly. New rules floated by the Trump administration lay out what kinds of businesses can take a 20 percent deduction against income taxes under the new tax law.

With the proposed rules issued Wednesday, the Treasury Department and the IRS had worked for six months to bring clarity to Congress’ blueprint. But as with many aspects of the sweeping Republican tax law hustled through Congress last year, the requirements for the millions of “pass-through” businesses to score generous tax breaks are stunningly complex.

The new rules affirm the requirement in the tax law that certain business owners like lawyers, accountants, doctors and consultants can’t qualify for the full deduction if their annual income exceeds $157,000 for single tax filers and $315,000 for couples filing jointly. The amount of the deduction to be claimed declines as taxpayers’ income rises. The same is true for interior designers, investment managers, therapists and others.

Many small business owners around the country have been yearning for months to know whether they’ll be pass-through winners or losers. Even with the new regulations, many owners still will likely be turning to tax accountants and other specialists to cut through the confusion.

10 MILLIONTH MUSTANG

Ford celebrates production of 10 million Mustang sports cars

FLAT ROCK, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. marked production of the 10 millionth Mustang with celebrations Wednesday at the automaker’s headquarters and at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant where the iconic sports car is made.

A parade of Mustangs from 1964 to the present day rolled into the parking lot at the Dearborn headquarters before making the 30-minute drive — complete with police escort — to the Flat Rock complex. There, the cars were organized into a configuration that spelled out “10,000,000.” The commas were represented by the first Mustang produced and the 10 millionth, a 2019 Wimbledon White GT V8 six-speed manual convertible.

Mustang is the best-selling sports car of the last 50 years in the U.S. and the world’s top-selling sports car for three years in a row, according to company analyses.

During its 54-year production history, the Mustang was built in San Jose, California, and Metuchen, New Jersey, as well as at the original Mustang production facility in Dearborn. These days, Flat Rock is the home of the Mustang.

INDIA-IKEA STORE

Swedish IKEA opens 1st single-brand retail store in India

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — Band music and loud cheers greet hundreds of Indian buyers as Swedish home furniture giant IKEA opened its first store in the country, five years after it received approval to invest in India’s single-brand retail sector.

The store started business today in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, India’s information technology hub, spread over a sprawling area of 13 acres.

IKEA Group CEO Jesper Brodin says the opening of the first store in India marked a milestone in the company’s journey, which began over three decades ago through sourcing of products.

The Swedish company’s vast array of products available at one place enjoys an advantage in India. The Indian furniture market is mostly unorganized, comprising small and medium businesses.

EARNS-YELP

Yelp’s Q2 profit tops expectations as ad revenue jumps

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yelp’s second-quarter results blew past Wall Street expectations, fueled by a 21 percent surge in advertising revenue.

The online business reviews company raised its profit forecast for the year and its stock soared almost 14 percent in after-hours trading.

The San Francisco-based company on Wednesday reported net income of $10.7 million, or 12 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for stock option expense, came to 38 cents per share. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 25 cents per share.

It posted revenue of $234.9 million in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts. Fourteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $231.9 million.

Advertising revenue rose to $226.2 million from $187.7 million a year earlier.

For the current quarter ending in October, Yelp said it expects revenue in the range of $242 million to $246 million. That’s up from a previous forecast of $230 million to $233 million.

The company expects full-year revenue in the range of $952 million to $967 million. That’s up from a previous forecast of $943 million to $967 million.

Shares in Yelp Inc. rose $5.22, or 13.6 percent, to $43.38 in after-market trading.

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