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Update on the latest in business:

March 5, 2019


Asian shares fall, China’s edge up on bullish growth target

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares have declined in most Asian markets, tracking a sell-off on Wall Street.

But stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen advanced early Tuesday after the government set an ambitious target for growth this year that implies strong government support for the economy.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the annual session of the country’s rubber-stamp parliament that the government was setting a growth target in a range of 6 to 6.5 percent. That shows official determination to shore up the cooling economy.

The world’s two largest economies have pulled back from an immediate escalation of their damaging trade war, with President Donald Trump postponing a deadline for raising tariffs on more Chinese goods, citing progress in a series of talks. Media reports say the nations could strike a deal this month.

Investors have been hoping for a resolution in the long-running trade dispute.

The Wall Street sell-off Monday centered mainly on health-related and technology shares that have made the most gains recently. The S&P 500 index dropped 0.4 percent to 2,792.81. The index, a benchmark for many mutual funds, is still up 11.4 percent so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 percent, to 25,819.65, while the Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 percent to 7,577.57. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 14.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,575.44.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $56.50 per barrel.

The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.


FBI stepping up efforts to root out international corruption

WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to crack down on money laundering and bribes to overseas governments, the FBI is stepping up its efforts to root out foreign corruption with a new squad of agents based in Miami.

The squad will focus its efforts not only on Miami but also in South America, a continent that has been home to some of the Justice Department’s most significant international corruption prosecutions of the last several years. The Miami squad joins three others based in the FBI’s largest field offices — Washington, New York and Los Angeles.

The unit aims to identify violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law that makes it illegal to bribe foreign officials. The FBI has also been doing outreach to companies in a variety of industries, from oil to pharmaceuticals, to teach them about red flags that could indicate corruption and encourage the companies to “self-report” potentially improper conduct to the bureau.


Pompeo asks Iowa farmers to stand firm with Trump on trade

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on a trade mission Monday to persuade Iowa farmers struggling to survive low commodity prices and tariffs that have hurt sales to stand firm with President Donald Trump and his efforts to negotiate better trade deals.

Pompeo, flanked by U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, spoke to a group of young suburban Des Moines Future Farmers of America members at a high school in Johnston, Iowa and a gathering of 200 Iowa Farm Bureau members. He toured a DowDuPont agricultural research facility and met with the state’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds who has been supportive of Trump.

During questions at the high school he defended Trump’s trade efforts which have yet to resolve an ongoing tariff dispute with China that has cost farmers billions of dollars in lost trade, saying the its protectionist policies of charging tariffs on U.S. goods and stealing U.S. technology had to be dealt with.

He acknowledged such fights are difficult but suggested there could be a resolution, telling the farmers that “help is on the way for American producers and Chinese consumers.”


Noem offers bills aimed at possible Keystone XL protests

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday that she’s proposing a new framework for oil pipeline construction before building starts on the Keystone XL pipeline, introducing legislation that would require companies behind such projects to chip in on protest-related expenses and create a way to go after the money of those who fund destructive demonstrations.

Noem said she wants make sure there’s enough funding so local governments don’t bankrupt themselves during construction. She also wants officials to be able to aggressively pursue people who financially back violence and gain access to those funds as well.

The push comes late in the state’s 2019 legislative session, timing that critics panned.

Noem’s bills come after opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline staged large protests that resulted in 761 arrests in southern North Dakota over a six-month span beginning in late 2016. The state spent tens of millions of dollars policing the protests.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota said the legislation could infringe on free speech rights.


Plan to protect Colorado River still isn’t done. Now what?

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Another federal deadline passed Monday for seven states in the U.S. West to wrap up work on a plan to ensure the drought-stricken Colorado River can deliver water to the 40 million people and farms that depend on it.

The states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — have been working for years on drought contingency plans. But Arizona and California have missed two deadlines set by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and still have work to do.

Without a consensus among the states, the agency will allow governors from the seven states to weigh in with recommendations on what to do next. The federal government also could step in and impose its own rules in the river’s lower basin, affecting California, Arizona and Nevada.

The comment period closes March 19, but the Bureau of Reclamation says it can call off the process if all states complete their work.

The river carries melted snow from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California.

The water has allowed major desert cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix to flourish. But a nearly two-decade drought, climate change and demand from growing cities are increasing the threat of a water shortage.

The water is doled out through interstate agreements, international treaties and court rulings.


China sets 2019 economic growth target at 6 to 6.5 percent

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government has trimmed this year’s economic growth target to a relatively robust 6 to 6.5 percent amid a tariff battle with Washington and a slowdown in global growth.

The growth target announced Tuesday at the opening of the ceremonial national legislature is down slightly from 2018′s three-decade low growth of 6.6 percent. But it would be among the world’s strongest expansions if achieved.

The announcement comes amid a tariff battle with Washington and slowing global demand for Chinese exports.


Facebook prohibits foreign-funded ads for Indonesia election

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Facebook says it will not allow election advertisements for Indonesia’s upcoming presidential election that are purchased from outside the country.

The announcement on Facebook’s website says the restriction took effect Monday morning and is part of “safeguarding election integrity on our platform.”

Facebook has been criticized for allowing foreign interests to use its site to disseminate ads that may have influenced the outcomes of the last U.S. presidential election and the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union.


Japan’s Kyodo news says court has OK’d Ghosn release on bail

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo District Court says it has approved the release of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on 1 billion yen -- the equivalent of $8.9 million bail, ending nearly four months of detention.

Tuesday’s approval of Ghosn’s request for bail, his third, came a day after one of Ghosn’s lawyers said he was confident the auto executive would gain his release.

The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance has been detained since he was arrested on Nov. 19. He says he is innocent of charges of falsifying financial information and breach of trust.


Seller of jackpot ticket to benefit

UNDATED (AP) — The owner of a South Carolina convenience store that sold the winning ticket in a $1.5 billion Mega Millions Jackpot will rack up a $50,000 payment.

Chirag Patel’s business is located in Simpsonville, a suburb of Greenville, South Carolina. The winning ticket was sold between Oct. 20 and Oct. 23 of last year and the winner was patient enough to wait.

A lottery commission statement said the person submitting the claim for what was the second-largest lottery in U.S. history has chosen the cash option, a one-time payment of nearly $878,000,000.

The winner also doesn’t have to go public. South Carolina is one of a handful of states where winners can remain anonymous — a choice that winners often make to protect themselves from being targeted by criminals or unscrupulous people seeking money.