Update on the latest in business:
Asian shares rise as fears ease over trade dispute, Koreas
HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets rose Thursday, as fears of a U.S.-China trade dispute eased and news of a rare summit between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea shored up investor sentiment. Trading in some markets was muted ahead of the Easter long weekend.
The Shanghai Composite in mainland China led Asian gains, jumping 1.4 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent after a sharp drop in the yen made shares cheaper for foreign buyers. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index reversed earlier losses to rise 0.4 percent.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index dipped 0.3 percent to close at 2,605. The Dow Jones industrial average fell less than 0.1 percent to 23,848. And the Nasdaq composite slid 0.8 percent to 6,949.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic reports scheduled for release today:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department issues its February report on personal income and consumer spending today. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Also today, Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average U.S. mortgage rates.
White House claims win in Korea trade deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is hailing a revamped trade agreement with South Korea as a vindication of President Donald Trump’s hard-nosed approach to international trade.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says “It’s a big deal and a major win for American workers and American businesses.”
Many trade analysts are skeptical that the changes Trump’s team negotiated to the six-year-old U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) will make a dent in America’s massive trade deficit or do much to increase U.S. car sales in the near-impenetrable South Korean auto market.
The two countries had a big incentive to reach a deal and ease friction over trade. The two political and military allies need to present a united front ahead of Trump’s meeting with reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
China appeals to Washington to give up tariff plan
BEIJING (AP) — China’s Commerce Ministry has called on Washington to discard a tariff plan it warned might set off a chain reaction that could disrupt global trade and said Beijing will “fight to the end.”
A ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, gave no new details Thursday of how Beijing might respond to Trump’s proposed tariff hike on $60 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy. But Gao repeated warnings that China would defend its interests.
At a regular news briefing, Gao said Trump’s tariff plans “may trigger a chain reaction” of import controls by other governments and harm global economic growth.
Gao said, “We hope the United States can rein in its horse before the edge of the cliff, or else we will fight to the end.”
FTSE RUSSELL-SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia earns emerging market status from FTSE Russell
UNDATED (AP) — Saudi Arabia has earned secondary emerging market status from FTSE Russell, a designation that will introduce more money to the country and help it move away from an oil-dependent economy.
The country was previously “unclassified” by FTSE Russell, which compiles stock indexes, meaning that the country didn’t get the exposure to investors that comes with being on its list of emerging markets.
Saudi Arabia has been trying to make a number of changes to try to move away from its oil-dependent economy. As part of this, it has made some market reforms to earn this status.
The announcement came Wednesday. FTSE Russell said the country will be the largest market within the Middle East of the FTSE Emerging Index.
Facebook ending ad targeting using outside data
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it is shutting down a type of advertising product that allowed marketers to use data from people’s lives outside of Facebook to target them on the platform.
The information includes categories like home ownership and purchase history and is collected by some of the world’s largest data brokers such as Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian.
Facebook’s product marketing director Graham Mudd said in a statement that shutting down the feature over the next six months “will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”
The program allowed specific targeting of audiences using offline data about them in the U.S., Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., Australia and Japan.
India sends notice to Facebook over alleged data breach
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government has sent a notice to Facebook asking whether the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica or any other downstream entity.
A similar notice was dispatched to Cambridge Analytica last week following media reports that it had misused data to profile Indians and influence their elections.
Facebook is facing unprecedented scrutiny following reports that the data mining firm used ill-gotten data from tens of millions of its users to try to influence elections.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement late Wednesday that Facebook has its largest footprint in India in terms of its user base and sought to know what proactive measures it is taking to prevent misuse by any third party.
CONCHO RESOURCES-RSP PERMIAN
Concho agrees to pay $9.5 billion in stock for RSP Permian
DALLAS (AP) — Concho Resources Inc. says it’s buying shale-drilling energy producer RSP Permian Inc. for about $9.5 billion in stock, sending RSP shares up more than 15 percent.
Concho said Tuesday that the combined company will have the biggest drilling operation in the energy-rich Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, with 27 rigs spread over 640,000 acres.
The deal, if approved by RSP shareholders, will immediately increase Concho’s earnings per share, according to the company.
But a Wood Mackenzie analyst says Concho is paying a rich premium of 29 percent and will be challenged to meet its $2 billion goal for boosting RSP’s efficiency.
PALM BEACH POST-SALE
GateHouse Media buys Palm Beach Post for $49.3 million
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — GateHouse Media has bought The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News for $49.3 million.
The Palm Beach Post reports that New York-based New Media Investment Group Inc. announced the deal Wednesday. The papers have been owned since 1969 by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. The sale is expected to be completed by May.
Company executives told employees Wednesday in West Palm Beach that all will initially be retained at current pay. They wouldn’t address future staff levels.
The Palm Beach Post has daily print and paid digital circulation of nearly 80,000 and 102,000 on Sundays. The Palm Beach Daily News has a daily circulation of more than 4,500. It’s printed daily from October to May and twice weekly during the summer.
GateHouse Media owns more than 140 daily newspapers, with 11 in Florida.
‘Roseanne’ reboot opens big with about 18 million viewers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viewers were eager to see ABC’s reboot of “Roseanne,” with an estimated 18.4 million tuning in to its debut.
The updated sitcom starring Roseanne Barr returned Tuesday, more than two decades after the original ended its hit run.
The hour-long debut episode was watched by 10 percent more viewers than watched the May 1997 finale of ABC’s original “Roseanne.”
That’s impressive, given the explosion of alternate platforms and series in recent years.
Elaine Wynn says she reported rape allegation to company
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Elaine Wynn says she told the general counsel of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts in 2009 that she had received information alleging her now ex-husband had “raped” an employee in 2005.
Elaine Wynn’s comment came Wednesday during a court hearing in a yearslong civil case involving her, her ex-husband and the casino-operator.
She says general counsel Kimmarie Sinatra later told her the accusation against Steve Wynn was “deemed not to have been an issue of concern for the company” and that it was “handled personally.”
The special hearing was meant for her attorneys to show that she reported to the company bad acts alleged against her ex-husband and others.
She has argued she was not re-nominated the company’s board of directors in 2015 because of her inquiries into company activities.
CASINO CHEATING LAWSUIT
Judge: Card maker in Phil Ivey-Borgata flap liable for $27
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge has dealt an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino a bad hand in its lawsuit over asymmetrical playing cards that helped pro poker champ Phil Ivey and a companion win nearly $10 million.
U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman ruled Monday that playing card manufacturer Gemaco’s flawed cards were only part of the reason they were able to win so much playing baccarat.
The Borgata claimed Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun exploited a flaw in the cards’ back-side pattern, enabling them to sort and arrange good cards.
The casino won a $10.1 million judgment against the pair and sought similar damages from Kansas City, Missouri-based Gemaco. But the judge ruled the most the casino could win from Gemaco is the value of the defective cards: less than $27.
NYC HELICOPTER CRASH
New defendants added to NYC helicopter crash lawsuit
NEW YORK (AP) — The family of one of the victims of a deadly New York City helicopter crash has added several new defendants to its lawsuit following the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report.
The amended complaint filed Wednesday claims Airbus Helicopters and Dart Aerospace manufactured unsafe component parts, including unguarded fuel levers and a malfunctioning emergency flotation system.
In the NTSB report, the helicopter’s pilot said he believed the aircraft’s fuel was cut off when a passenger’s restraint tether tangled with an emergency fuel cutoff shift.
The March 11 crash in the East River killed five.
The family’s attorney, Gary Robb, says there were multiple acts of fault on the part of multiple defendants.