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Update on the latest business

November 9, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling in midday trading on Wall Street, led by drops in technology and internet companies.

Video game maker Activision Blizzard plunged 10 percent after forecasting weak holiday sales. Online reviews company Yelp plummeted 28 percent after disappointing revenue.

Energy companies are also lower as the price of crude oil heads for its 10th straight decline. Traders are worried about abundant global supplies of oil.

Walt Disney rose after its profit surpassed analyst estimates.

PRODUCER PRICES

US wholesale prices jump 0.6 percent, most in 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices rose by the most in six years last month, led higher by more expensive gas, food, and chemicals.

The Labor Department says the producer price index — which measures price increases before they reach the consumer — leapt 0.6 percent in October, after a smaller 0.2 percent rise in September. Producer prices increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core wholesale prices rose 0.5 percent in October and 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

Despite last month’s increase, the figures suggest inflation pressures are mostly in check. During the summer, producer prices rose more than 3 percent from a year earlier. And oil prices declined in October and are likely to lower gas costs in the coming months.

WALMART-JOBS TRANSFER

Walmart to offload 570 office workers onto outside company

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Walmart Inc. is transferring 570 finance and accounting employees at its Arkansas headquarters to an outside company that will help manage part of the retailer’s financial operations.

New York-based Genpact will hire all the workers who wish to make the move and will keep them in Bentonville, where Genpact is leasing a building on Walmart’s campus.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that employees were told of the move Thursday and that it will take effect Nov. 28. It says a Walmart official said the company made every effort to ensure the workers will have the same jobs at Genpact, with comparable pay and benefits. Workers who decline the move will get 60 days with pay to search for other jobs.

Walmart Vice President Clay Johnson says the move will allow the retailer’s global-business services division to move its operations more into digital technology.

Genpact describes itself as a global professional services company with more than 70 offices worldwide.

MEREDITH-FORTUNE-SALE

Meredith to sell Fortune brand for $150 million

NEW YORK (AP) — Media and publishing giant Meredith Corp. says it is selling its Fortune brand for $150 million in cash to Fortune Media Group.

The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of the year.

Fortune Media Group is owned outright by Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon, a part owner of the international conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group.

Meredith had acquired Fortune as part of its purchase of Time Inc., which closed early this year. Meredith then sold Time in September for $190 million.

Founded in 1930, Fortune’s franchises include the Fortune 500, the 100 Best Companies to Work For and other similar titles.

The transaction is part of a continued trend of older, struggling print publications being bought up by wealthy businessmen.

KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

Another Keystone XL setback; environmental review ordered

NEW YORK (AP) — Environmentalists are welcoming a federal court order that blocks a Trump administration permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, pending an environmental review.

The pipeline would begin in Alberta and shuttle as much as 830,000 barrels a day of crude through a half dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris essentially delayed the $8 billion project to study its environmental impact. Environmentalists and Native American groups sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.

Becky Mitchell, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a plaintiff in the case, said that the organization is thrilled with the ruling.

TransCanada, which is pushing the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.

UN-TOBACCO

Advocates urge UN body to shut door on Big Tobacco

GENEVA (AP) — Opponents of Big Tobacco say a decision by the International Labor Organization to stop accepting funds from the industry is a step in the right direction, but are urging the U.N.-backed agency to go further and “completely shut the door.”

On Thursday, the ILO agreed not to renew a contract with Japan Tobacco International next month — a decision that ended, for now, the influence of the tobacco industry in the last U.N. institution to which it had links.

Mafoya Dossoumon, spokesman for the Framework Convention Alliance, which unites some 500 anti-tobacco industry groups, says the ILO move was a “good thing.”

However, he said Friday his group wanted more clarity about ILO plans to enact “appropriate safeguards” about its funding sources, and cautioned it’s possible Big Tobacco could return.

BREXIT

UK transport minister resigns over Brexit; seeks 2nd vote

LONDON (AP) — A transport minister in the British government has stepped down to protest Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan and is backing calls for a second referendum on whether the country should leave the European Union.

Jo Johnson said Friday that the withdrawal agreement being discussed by EU and British leaders would be a “terrible mistake” that would leave Britain weaker economically and with “no say” in EU rules it must follow.

The only alternative, he says, is a no-deal Brexit that would “inflict untold damage on our nation.”

Johnson is the brother of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned in July over the Brexit plan.

Jo Johnson backed the “remain” side in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

May has said there will be no second referendum.

FRANCE-PLANE IMPOUNDED

France impounds Ryanair plane on tarmac before take-off

PARIS (AP) — French authorities have seized a Ryanair plane and forced 149 passengers to disembark because of a dispute over subsidies to the Irish airline.

The French civil aviation authority announced Friday it had impounded the plane on the tarmac of the Bordeaux-Merignac airport as a “last resort.”

Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure.

In a statement, the aviation authority said France had repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back regional funds paid to the airline in 2008-2009. The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.

The aviation authority called it “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane Thursday. It said the passengers were put on another Ryanair flight five hours later.

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