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Update on the latest in business:

August 10, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares slip despite upbeat Japanese economic data

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares are lower in Asia today, tracking losses on Wall Street despite the release of data showing Japan’s economy resumed its longtime expansion in the last quarter.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up 1.0 percent. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.3 percent and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 declined 0.2 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi lost 0.9 percent. India’s Sensex fell 0.3 percent. Shares were lower in Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore but rose in Indonesia.

On Wall Street Thursday, major U.S. indexes stood stock-still for the third consecutive as gains for retailers were canceled out by losses for banks and other companies. The S&P 500 edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,853.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3 percent to 25,509.23, while the Nasdaq composite inched higher, adding 3.46 points to 7,891.78, notching its eighth gain in a row. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller companies, added 4.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,690.89.

VENEZUELA-CITGO

Judge: Canadian firm can go after Venezuela’s US refineries

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A Canadian gold mining firm has won the right to go after Venezuela’s U.S.-based oil refineries to collect $1.4 billion that it lost in a take-over by the late-President Hugo Chavez.

Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark of the U.S. Federal District Court in Delaware made the ruling Thursday in favor of Crystallex.

Chavez took over the gold mining firm and many other international companies as part of his socialist revolution.

Russ Dallen of the brokerage firm Caracas Capital Markets says the ruling could set off a scramble by a list of creditors owed $65 billion in bonds that Venezuela has stopped paying within the last year.

Dallen says Crystallex’s lawsuit makes it the lucky lottery winner because it got in line first.

Venezuela’s economy is spiraling into a deepening crisis.

CONGRESS-CORPORATE BOARDS

Member of Congress, member of corporate board? It’s allowed

WASHINGTON (AP) — The indictment of Rep. Chris Collins on insider trading charges is drawing new attention to the freedom members of Congress have to serve on corporate boards or to buy and sell stock in industries they’re responsible for overseeing.

Collins, a New York Republican, has denied any wrongdoing stemming from his involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Sydney, Australia.

He was Innate’s largest shareholder and also was on the company’s board.

Members of Congress are not prohibited from serving on corporate boards as long as they don’t receive any compensation for doing so. But legal and ethics experts say it’s an arrangement that can create the potential for conflicts of interest.

It is unclear how many lawmakers have board positions. There’s no central database with that information.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

Japan’s economy rebounds as consumers, companies spend more

TOKYO (AP) — Japan reports its economy resumed its longtime expansion in the last quarter as consumers and businesses stepped up spending.

The preliminary data released today showed that trade weighed slightly on growth. The economy grew at a 1.9 percent annual pace after contracting by 0.6 percent in January-March.

In quarterly terms, gross domestic product expanded 0.5 percent in April-June, rebounding from a 0.2 percent contraction.

Consumers spent more thanks partly to a rise in earnings mostly fueled by strong half-year bonus payments.

The contraction early in the year interrupted Japan’s longest expansion in almost three decades. But growth has remained weaker than hoped for.

Still, the news could help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his campaign to remain leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an election in September.

HOG SMELLS-LAWSUITS

Hog nuisance trials get new judge after 3 industry losses

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The federal judge who’s managing a series of North Carolina lawsuits accusing the world’s largest pork company of creating nuisances for rural neighbors is being temporarily replaced.

The order replacing U.S. District Judge Earl Britt for a trial starting next month was finalized Monday. Court records don’t indicate why Britt, who’s in his mid-80s and semi-retired, was replaced or for how long. Industry advocates had complained Britt’s decisions were biased and contributed to Smithfield Foods’ losing streak.

More than two dozen lawsuits involving more than 500 neighbors of intensive animal operations have been pending for four years.

TECH BILLIONAIRE-ARREST

Tech billionaire Henry Nicholas facing drug counts in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tech billionaire and advocate of crime victims Henry T. Nicholas III is facing drug counts after being arrested along with a woman Tuesday at a Las Vegas Strip casino-resort. A Las Vegas police spokesman says Nicholas was arrested on suspicion of trafficking heroin, cocaine, meth and ecstasy. The spokesman says police responded to the casino-resort following a report from security, which had found contraband in a room.

Nicholas’ attorney, David Chesnoff, told The Associated Press his team is doing its own investigation and will “deal with the facts in court.” Court records show Nicholas has been released on his own recognizance.

Nicholas co-founded high-tech chipmaker Broadcom Corp. in 1991 and resigned as president and CEO in 2003. In 2008, he was indicted on narcotics and securities fraud charges. The charges in the securities case were dismissed in 2009 and the narcotics case in 2010.

KFC-SENSITIVTY-TRAINING

KFC incident with deaf woman leads to sensitivity training

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The management company of 270 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises nationwide has agreed to provide sensitivity training at those outlets following a May incident at a KFC in Mississippi in which a deaf woman felt she was being mocked.

The Clarion Ledger reports Disability Rights Mississippi, a nonprofit corporation that advocates for people with disabilities, said it reached an agreement on behalf of Bobbie Cole, of Byram, Mississippi, with Canada-based Franchise Management Inc. That company operates the fast-food franchises.

Cole, who is deaf but can read lips, said she was made fun of by KFC employees while trying to order food at a Jackson area drive-thru.

FMI spokesman Tyler Langdon said in an email to the newspaper that sensitivity training will be conducted at its restaurants.

OBIT-DANZIG

Ex-Hearst Newspaper chief Robert Danzig dies at 85

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Hearst Newspapers CEO Robert J. Danzig has died at after a long illness. He was 85.

Hearst says Danzig died in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, om Wednesday. The company says Danzig rose from tough beginnings as a foster child to become the head of Hearst Newspapers in 1977, a post he held until 1997. The newspaper division acquired the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and several community newspapers under Danzig’s leadership. It grew to become the seventh largest newspaper company in the U.S., with a daily circulation of more than 1.3 million.

After Danzig retired in 1998, he wrote several books about foster children, social workers and foster parents, inspired by his own childhood. Hearst says Danzig’s parents divorced during the Great Depression and abandoned him at the age of 2.

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