Update on the latest in business:
Asian shares mixed on worries over US-China trade talks
SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were are in subdued trading today as Japan reports weak export data and news has surfaced of possible hiccups in China-U.S. trade talks.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent after the Bank of Japan kept its short and long term interest rates intact as expected but lowered its inflation forecasts. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was almost flat. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 slipped 0.3 percent. Shares fell in Taiwan and Singapore but rose in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Yesterday on Wall Street, U.S. investors returned from a holiday to lower global growth estimates by the International Monetary Fund and news that China’s economy expanded last year at its slowest pace since 1990. Reports that the Trump administration recently rejected a meeting with Chinese trade officials caused major indexes to slip further. The S&P 500 index declined 1.4 percent to 2,632.90. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.2 percent to 24,404.48 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.9 percent at 7,020.36.
China slowdown crimps Japan’s exports, government data show
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s exports fell 3.8 percent in December from a year earlier, hit by slowing demand in China, as the trade balance shifted back into deficit for the year, the government reported Wednesday.
For the year, imports outpaced the rise in exports, leaving a trade deficit for the first time in three years, the Ministry of Finance reported.
Japan’s imports rose 1.9 percent in December from the same month in 2017, leaving a deficit of 55.3 billion yen (about $507 million).
The preliminary data from the Ministry of Finance showed that shipments to China sank 7 percent in December from the same month of 2017.
China’s economy has slowed most quickly than anticipated recently, partly as a result of trade friction with the U.S. Economic growth in 2018 fell to 6.6 percent, the slowest annual pace since 1990 and well below the 6.9 percent expansion in 2017.
Vibrant growth in the U.S. and China, among other regions, is vital for Japan’s export-oriented economy.
Brockovich urges California leaders to halt PG&E bankruptcy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The consumer activist Erin Brockovich is urging California lawmakers not to let Pacific Gas & Electric Co. go bankrupt because it might mean less money for wildfire victims.
Brockovich spoke Tuesday in Sacramento alongside people who have sued the utility after losing their Northern California homes in 2017 and 2018 wildfires. Brockovich is best known for her environmental lawsuit against PG&E in the 1990s that became the subject of a movie.
The utility has announced it plans to file for bankruptcy this month, saying it can’t afford at least $30 billion in damages related to the wildfires. Experts say a bankruptcy will likely mean wildfire victims who have sued PG&E won’t be fully paid. Brockovich also says California lawmakers must adopt better oversight of the utility.
Oracle accused of underpaying women, minorities by $400M
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — U.S. government regulators are accusing software maker Oracle of engaging in discriminatory practices that resulted in thousands of its female, black and Asian employees being underpaid by more than $400 million.
The allegations emerged Tuesday in a filing made in a two-year-old case that is being pursued by a part of the U.S. Labor Department that examines the pay practices of government contractors. The agency estimates Oracle has government contracts worth about $100 million annually.
The filing cites evidence that Oracle underpaid women and ethnic minorities for similar work done by white men by as much 25 percent. The alleged practices affected more than 5,000 women, more than 11,000 Asians and fewer than 30 blacks from 2013 through 2016.
Oracle declined to comment.
Former Wilmington Trust official sentenced for conspiracy
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A former bank executive who cooperated with authorities in an investigation that led to the fraud convictions of four top executives for Wilmington Trust, the only financial institution to be criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program, has been sentenced to almost two years in prison.
Fifty-one-year-old Joseph Terranova was sentenced to 21 months behind bars Tuesday, more than five years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Terranova’s attorney had asked for a sentence of home confinement and community service.
Terranova, who at one point wore an FBI wire to secretly record his conversations with colleagues and real estate developers, testified last year in the trial of former bank president Robert Harra and three other top Wilmington Trust executives. All were found guilty.
MILLER PAR-NAMING RIGHTS
insurance giant takes over naming rights for Brewers stadium
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The home of the Milwaukee Brewers will no longer be known as Miller Park after next year.
American Family Insurance will take over the naming rights to the stadium in 2021 under a 15-year agreement announced Tuesday.
The exact name of the stadium has not been chosen yet. Financial terms were not disclosed.
MillerCoors, which has a brewery just a mile from the stadium, committed $41.2 million for the naming rights in March 1996, nine months before ground was broken. Miller Park, with its convertible roof, was opened in 2001 and replaced Milwaukee County Stadium.
Netflix joins MPAA lobbying group, its 1st streaming member
NEW YORK (AP) — On the same day Netflix scored its first best picture nomination from the Oscars, the steaming company joined the lobbying group the Motion Picture Association of America.
The MPAA announced Tuesday that Netflix will join its ranks, becoming the first streaming service to do so. The only other members of the MPAA are the six major studios.
One of the MPAA’s chief goals is to combat piracy, which is a concern for Netflix as it continues to expand its footprint overseas. Netflix, though, doesn’t use the MPAA’s ratings system to stamp its films PG-13 or R, for example.
The MPAA is largely uninvolved in theatrical window debates, an ongoing dispute that has put Netflix at odds with theater owners.