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Update on the latest in business:

August 27, 2018


Asian stocks rise, gripped by optimism on Wall Street

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stocks rose on Monday as a dovish speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and all-time highs on Wall Street gave markets a breather from trade tensions.

Major U.S. indexes finished higher on Friday, lifted by strong corporate earnings amid uncertainty from simmering trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The benchmark S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high, adding 0.6 percent to 2,874.69. It has now finished with a weekly gain in seven out of the last eight weeks. The Nasdaq composite and the Russell 2000 indexes also ended the day at all-time highs. The Nasdaq gained 0.9 percent to 7,945.98. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 0.5 percent to 1,725.67. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5 percent, to 25,790.35.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sketched a positive picture of the U.S. economy on Friday and said the Fed’s incremental approach to raising rates has so far succeeded.

The United States and China have imposed 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion of each other’s goods including automobiles, factory equipment and other goods. On Thursday, U.S. and Chinese negotiators ended two days of meetings without breaking a deadlock over trade that has unnerved financial markets and disrupted global commerce.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell but remained above $68.50 a barrel.

The dollar eased against the yen and fell against the euro.


China in struggle to curb reliance on US market, suppliers

BEIJING (AP) — Faced with plunging U.S. orders, surgical glove maker Ren Jiding is hunting for new markets amid Chinese government calls to reduce reliance on the United States. But none can absorb the 60 percent of his sales that went to American customers last year.

From medical products to smartphone chips to soybeans, Beijing is responding to President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes by pushing companies to trade more with other countries. But there are few substitutes for the United States as an export market and source of technology for industries including telecom equipment makers Chinese leaders are eager to develop.

Beijing has announced tariff cuts and other changes while rejecting U.S. demands to scale back plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of Chinese champions in robotics, biotech and other fields. American leaders say those violate Beijing’s market-opening promises and might erode U.S. industrial leadership.

The response highlights the cost the ruling Communist Party is willing to pay in lost sales and jobs to stick to plans that are fueling conflict with Washington, Europe and other trading partners.


Nissan launches China-focused electric car

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — A Nissan electric sedan that is the first in a wave of dozens of planned lower-cost electric models being developed by global auto brands for China has rolled off an assembly line.

The Sylphy Zero Emission started production Monday at a factory operated by Nissan Motor Co. and a Chinese partner, Dongfeng Motor Group.

Automakers including General Motors and Volkswagen plan to release electric models designed for China starting this year. The government is pressing the industry to accelerate development of the technology.

Brands including Nissan, Tesla, GM and Audi sell imported electrics in China but their high price limits their appeal.

The Sylphy is based on Nissan’s electric Leaf. The Sylphy costs 166,000 yuan ($25,850) after government subsidies, or just over half the sticker price of the Leaf.


Germany’s Merkel against ratcheting up EU emissions target

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making clear that she opposes setting new, more ambitious European emissions reduction targets for 2030. She says the continent needs to concentrate on fulfilling the aims it has already set.

The European Union wants to achieve a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. Last week, EU climate chief Miguel Arias Canete told Germany’s dpa news agency that he plans to propose increasing that to 45 percent.

Merkel told ARD television on Sunday that she is “not so happy at the moment about these new proposals because many member states already aren’t fulfilling today what they promised.”

She said: “I think we must first keep to the targets we set. I don’t think that permanently setting new targets makes sense.”


Business and economic reports scheduled for today

There are no major economic reports scheduled for release today

Tomorrow, however, Standard & Poor’s releases S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for June.

Also, the Conference Board issues its Consumer Confidence Index for August.


Trump suggests US close to ‘big’ trade agreement with Mexico

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the United States is close to a “big Trade Agreement” with Mexico and he’s citing improving ties between the two countries.

Trump says on Twitter that the U.S.-Mexico relationship “is getting closer by the hour” and he says a trade deal “could be happening soon!”

He’s spoken of better relations with America’s neighbor following the rise of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (ahn-DRAYS’ mahn-WEHL’ LOH’-pez OH’-brah-dohr).

The U.S. and Mexico have been discussing a trade deal as part of negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Trump administration is seeking a revised version of that trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Trump’s relationship with Mexico has been strained over his push for it to pay for his border wall.


Judge deals blow to Trump effort to overhaul bureaucracy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dealt a blow to President Donald Trump’s effort to overhaul the U.S. bureaucracy, including by making it easier to fire government workers.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson says in a ruling issued Saturday that key provisions of three executive orders Trump signed in May “undermine federal employees’ right to bargain collectively” as protected by federal law.

She adds in her decision that “the President must be deemed to have exceeded his authority in issuing them.”

Organizations representing federal workers had sued over the executive orders and applauded the judge’s ruling.

Trump’s executive orders covered federal employee collective bargaining rights, grievance procedures and official time use.

The White House had no immediate comment on the judge’s ruling.


‘Private’ mess: Musk’s credibility goes from bad to worse

DETROIT (AP) — First it was the shocking tweet that funding was secured and Tesla may go private. Then a statement that the money wasn’t locked down after all. Two weeks later it’s never mind, the whole deal is off.

Welcome to the disarray of Elon Musk, the impulsive genius and architect of cutting-edge car, rocket and solar panel companies built nearly from scratch.

Chaos, though, comes with a price. Experts say it all could wind up with Tesla exposed to a fine for misleading investors. And even though Musk has almost legendary status, the episode could damage his credibility with stakeholders who have endured multiple broken promises and years of losses as a public company.

Musk tweeted Aug. 7 he was considering taking Tesla private and that funding had been secured.


Cargill says 25K pounds of ground beef may be tainted

DENVER (AP) — U.S. agricultural officials say Fort Morgan, Colorado-based Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling nearly 25,300 pounds of ground beef that might be contaminated with E. coli.

The recall notice by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the meat was shipped to warehouses in California and Colorado. It’s labeled “Excel 93/7 Fine Ground Beef” and was produced Aug. 16 with a Sept. 5 expiration date.

The notice says the meat processing plant discovered the problem Aug. 22 after a records review found the beef might be associated with a product that is presumed positive for the E. coli bacteria.

There have been no reports of illness due to eating the meat.

E. coli can cause dehydration, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, and it can cause a life-threatening form of kidney failure in young children and the elderly.


Average US price of gas drops 2 cents per gallon to $2.91

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has dropped two cents a gallon over the past two weeks, to $2.91.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says that’s more than 50 cents a gallon higher than at this time last year.

Lundberg said Sunday it is likely that gas prices will continue to drop slightly. She says that’s because refiners have increased capacity and current demand is weak.

In California, the average price was $3.61 per gallon, down a penny from two weeks earlier.

The highest average price in the contiguous 48 states and Hawaii is $3.69 in the San Francisco Bay area.

The lowest average is $2.51 in Jackson, Mississippi.


With minuscule drop, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is no. 1 again

NEW YORK (AP) — The opening weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians” was historic. Its second weekend was even more impressive.

The romantic comedy sensation slid just 6 percent from its chart-topping debut to again lead the box office with $25 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Almost as many people turned out over the weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians” as they did for its opening. That’s virtually never the case for non-holiday releases, which typically drop about 50 percent.

But propelled by an eagerness for a major Hollywood film led by Asian stars, “Crazy Rich Asians” is showing almost unprecedented legs.

It was helped by weak competition. The critically slammed R-rated puppet caper “The Happytime Murders” debuted with $10.1 million, a career-low for Melissa McCarthy. The robot-dog fantasy “A.X.L.” flopped with $2.9 million.


Weight-loss drug Belviq seems safe for heart, study finds

UNDATED (AP) — For the first time, a study finds that a drug can help people lose weight and keep it off for several years without raising their risk for heart problems.

Doctors say the results may encourage wider use of the drug, Belviq, (BELL’-vik), to help fight obesity.

Belviq has been sold in the United States since 2013 and is the first of several new weight-loss medicines to pass a heart safety study required by federal regulators to stay on the market.

A study in 12,000 people found that after three years, heart problems were no more common among Belviq users than among those taking dummy pills.

Results were discussed Sunday at a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.


Functioning Apple computer built in 1970s up for auction

BOSTON (AP) — A piece of computer history that helped launch a trillion-dollar company is hitting the auction block.

A fully functioning Apple-1 being auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction in September is one of only 60 or so remaining of the original 200 that were designed and built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976 and 1977.

It was restored to its original, operational state by Apple expert Corey Cohen. The system was operated without fault for approximately eight hours in a test. It even includes the original keyboard from the 1970s.

It shows the humble beginnings of Cupertino, California-based Apple, which recently became the world’s first publicly traded company to be valued at $1 trillion.

The Apple 1 originally sold for about $666. It could get $300,000 or more at auction.

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