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Update on the latest in business:

March 26, 2018


Tech, bank stocks lead US indexes higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Strong gains in technology companies and banks are leading stocks higher as the market recoups some of its huge losses from last week.

Microsoft jumped 5.6 percent in midday trading and Bank of America rose 2.8 percent.

Facebook fell another 2.9 percent after the Federal Trade Commission said it was investigating the company’s privacy practices.

Investors are encouraged by signs that the U.S. and China are open to negotiating to avert a trade dispute.

At 12:59 p.m. Eastern Time, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 387 points, at 23,919. It lost more than 1,400 points last week as traders worried that trade tensions between China and the U.S. would escalate.

The S&P 500 rose 34 points today, to 2,623. And the Nasdaq climbed 98 points, to 7,090.


FTC confirms Facebook investigation on privacy

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook’s privacy practices following a week of privacy scandals including whether the company engaged in “unfair acts” that cause “substantial injury” to consumers.

Facebook’s stock, which already took a big hit last week, plunged as a result.

Facebook says that the company remains “strongly committed” to protecting people’s information and that it welcomes the opportunity to answer the FTC’s questions.

News outlets have reported on the FTC investigation last week, but the FTC hadn’t confirmed it until today. Facebook reached a settlement with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances.


US attorneys general want answers from Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) — The chief law enforcement officers for 37 U.S. states and territories are demanding to know when Facebook learned of a huge breach of privacy protections.

The officers say in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg that users’ trust in the social media platform is “broken.”

The attorneys general are asking how Facebook monitored what these developers did with all the data they collected and whether Facebook had safeguards to prevent misuse.

They also asked Zuckerberg for an update on how Facebook will allow users to more easily control the privacy of their accounts.

Cambridge Analytica, a political data-mining firm, is accused of lifting data from some 50 million Facebook users to influence voters in the 2016 elections.


Frontier gun maker Remington seeks bankruptcy protection

UNDATED (AP) — U.S. gun maker Remington Outdoor Company has filed for bankruptcy protection, after years of falling sales and lawsuits tied to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Records from the bankruptcy court of the district of Delaware show that the company filed late Sunday.

Remington had in February reached a deal with lenders to reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital. But that only bought time for it to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Remington makes the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in 2012. The company was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting, but investors distanced themselves from the company’s owner, investor Cerberus Capital Management.


Lowe’s Chairman and CEO Niblock is retiring

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe’s Chairman and CEO Robert A. Niblock is retiring.

Niblock, who’s worked for the home improvement retailer for 25 years, will stay in his roles on an interim basis while Lowe’s looks for a successor.

Niblock has served as chairman and CEO for 13 years.

Lowe’s Cos., based in Mooresville, North Carolina, has more than 2,390 home improvement and hardware stores. Its shares jumped more than 6 percent in early trading today.


Comptroller: Wall Street average bonus topped $184K in ’17

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A second consecutive year of soaring profits on Wall Street pushed the average bonus paid to securities industry employees in New York City to more than $184,000 in 2017.

New York state’s comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the average bonus paid to brokers rose 17 percent to $184,220. Pretax profits for the Wall Street broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms — the traditional measure of securities industry profits — jumped 42 percent to $24.5 billion, the highest level since 2010.

In 2016, pretax profits topped $17 billion. According to the comptroller’s office, the average Wall Street bonus that year was $138,000.


McConnell wants hemp removed from controlled substance list

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Senate’s top leader wants to bring hemp production back into the mainstream by removing it from the list of controlled substances.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’ll introduce legislation to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

The Republican made the announcement in his home state of Kentucky, which has been at the forefront of hemp’s comeback.

Growing hemp without a federal permit has long been banned due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp got a limited reprieve with the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development. So far, more than 30 states have authorized hemp research.


China ‘open’ to talks with US amid spiraling tariff spat

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government says it’s open to negotiating with Washington amid a spiraling tariff dispute following a news report that American officials have submitted a list of market-opening requests.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman hasn’t confirmed the report by The Wall Street Journal but said at a regular briefing, “Our door for dialogue and discussion is always open.”

Businesspeople have appealed for a quick settlement after Beijing on Friday announced a $3billion list of U.S. goods targeted for possible retaliation for President Donald Trump’s tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports.

China has yet to say how it might respond to Trump’s approval of possible higher duties on $60 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing of stealing or improperly


Houston-based Fiesta Mart to be bought by El Super grocer

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston-based Fiesta Mart chain is being acquired by a California grocer to create what’s billed as one of the largest Hispanic-focused supermarket companies in the U.S.

El Super, based in Paramount, California, announced the deal Sunday, saying the new chain will have 122 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

Terms of the agreement weren’t immediately released. The Houston Chronicle reports the deal could be worth as much as $300 million.

El Super is owned by the Bodega Latina Corporation, a subsidiary of Grupo Comercial Chedraui. Fiesta Mart is operated by ACON Investments, operating 63 stores mainly in the Houston, Dallas and Austin areas.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Fiesta Mart stores will retain that name.


Virginia Beach’s Green Flash brewery listed for sale

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — One of Virginia’s largest breweries is up for sale after laying off 15 percent of its employees and suspending distribution in 32 of the 50 states.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that Green Flash placed 43rd on a list by Brewers Association of the nation’s top 50 craft breweries, based on 2017 sales.

Mayor Will Sessoms pointed toward the debt in Green Flash’s business plan as a potential cause. A February story by Brewbound cited by the Pilot quotes Founder Mike Hinkley as saying it was a mistake to use debt instead of equity to finance the 58,000-square-foot (5,400-square meter) brewery.

All parts of the 2-year-old brewery were listed for sale Saturday through Heritage Global Partners .

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