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Update on the latest in business:

April 2, 2018


U.S. stocks sink

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling sharply on Wall Street after China raised import duties on U.S. pork, apples and other products.

Tyson Foods is among the biggest losers today with a 6 percent loss.

Investors are also dumping some of their recent favorites, including retailers like Amazon and technology companies such as Microsoft.

At 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was down 512 points, to 23,588. The S&P 500 dropped 58 points, to 2,583. And the Nasdaq was down 164 points to 6,899.


Pace of US factory growth slipped in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers say they expanded at a slower pace in March.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reports that its manufacturing index slipped to 59.3 last month from February’s reading of 60.8, which had been the highest since 2004. Any score above 50 signals growth.

The categories of new orders, production and employment each fell in March for manufacturers, even though the underlying numbers remained positive.

Multiple companies surveyed for the index said that the introduction of steel and aluminum tariffs by President Donald Trump were causing concerns about rising prices. Some companies bought up the metals ahead of their implementation, driving up costs. Trump is trying to support U.S. steel and aluminum mills, though his tariffs include exemptions for allies.


US construction spending grew just 0.1 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spending on U.S. construction projects ticked up a mere 0.1 percent in February from the prior month, a sign that a growing economy is doing little to spur a more rapid pace for building homes, hospitals and highways.

The Commerce Department says construction spending came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.27 trillion. The lower unemployment rate and solid business and consumer confidence has supported an increase in hotel and office construction, but spending on the power grid and roadways has slipped. Construction spending over the past 12 months is up just 3 percent before adjusting for inflation.

Residential construction, the largest single category, rose just 0.1 percent in February. Some of the sluggishness in February was due to a 2.1 percent drop in government-funded construction.


Facebook CEO defends advertising-supported business model

NEW YORK (AP) —Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is defending his company’s advertising-supported business model.

Apple CEO Tim Cook had said that his company wouldn’t be in Facebook’s situation because Apple doesn’t sell ads based on customer data the way Facebook does. Zuckerberg responded today that an advertising-supported business model is the only way that the service can survive because not everyone would be able to pay for Facebook if it charged a fee.

He says the idea that Facebook doesn’t care about its customers is “extremely glib.”

Facebook is facing scrutiny over its data collection following allegations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users to try to influence elections.


Supreme Court rules for car dealerships in overtime case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says that car dealerships aren’t required under federal law to pay overtime to their service advisers, the employees that greet customers and assess their service and repair needs.

The case is important to the more than 18,000 dealerships in the United States. Together, the dealerships employ more than 100,000 service advisers.

The case the high court made its decision in involves a Mercedes Benz dealership in Encino, California. Service advisers there had argued they should be paid overtime. But the court sided with the dealership in saying service advisers are exempt from overtime requirements.


Puerto Rico gov defies board, rejects reform, pension cuts

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor is defying the federal control board overseeing the island’s troubled finances.

Ricardo Rossello says he will submit a fiscal plan to the board on Thursday that will not contain any layoffs, reductions in pensions or a labor reform.

The announcement late Sunday defies the board’s demands that the U.S. territory implement a labor reform and a 10 percent cut to a pension system facing nearly $50 billion in liabilities.


NTSB “unhappy” over Tesla crash statement

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is “unhappy” about Tesla’s decision to release information in a fatal crash investigation involving its Autopilot system.

A vehicle using the semi-autonomous system crashed into a concrete lane divider in California last week, killing the driver. Tesla said that data shows the driver did not have his hands on the wheel, as recommended, and received several warnings from the system prior to the crash.

Christopher T. O’Neil is a spokesman for the NTSB. He says, “in each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data.” He adds, “the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla.”

The NTSB says its next update will come in a preliminary report, which generally takes weeks.


Bar Harbor loses airliner service months before summer

BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — An airline that recently lost service to a northern Maine region will no longer offer flights to Bar Harbor Airport this summer.

Pen-Air decided to stop serving Bar Harbor after the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded to another airline a federally subsidized contract to serve Presque Isle’s Northern Maine Regional Airport on March 20. The Bangor Daily News reports this leaves the airport little time to find a carrier who will ferry passengers to the island during the busy summer season.

Bar Harbor Airport Manager Bradley Madeira says summer travel is threatened by the sudden cancellation

The airport has another airline, Cape Air, which flies to Boston and beyond. Pen-Air had served Bar Harbor since 2012.

Bids to replace Pen-Air at Bar Harbor are due on April 5.

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