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Update on the latest in business:

November 14, 2018


Global shares dip after Wall Street falls over oil concerns

TOKYO (AP) —Global shares were mostly lower today, after the steepest drop in oil prices in more than three years put investors in a selling mood on Wall Street.

France’s CAC slipped nearly 1 percent in early trading. Germany’s DAX was down 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.7 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei inched up 0.2 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite was down nearly 0.9 percent. Shares were also lower in Thailand and Singapore.

U.S. shares are set to drift lower with Dow futures slipping 0.2 percent at 25,291. S&P 500 futures were down 0.3 percent at 2,720.30.


Amazon’s NYC home in ‘opportunity zone’ for Trump tax break

NEW YORK (AP) — Much of the New York City neighborhood selected by Amazon for one of its new headquarters is in a federal “opportunity zone,” a designation created by President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul. The designation offers developers potentially millions of dollars in capital gains tax breaks to invest in high-poverty, low-income areas.

Critics question whether Long Island City in Queens needs such breaks. Median income around Amazon’s planned campus is $130,000, poverty is half the city average and new buildings were going up long before the tax overhaul.

Under the new tax law, officials in each state designated 8,700 such zones across the country that have high poverty and unemployment, and are in need of development.

The site of Amazon’s other new headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, was not in an opportunity zone.


Trump right and wrong on French wine tariffs

PARIS (AP) — President Donald Trump is partly right but far from completely correct when he says that France’s “big tariffs” make it hard for American vintners to sell their wines here: Wrong because customs duties on imported wines are applied not by France but by the European Union. Right because American tariffs are “globally” less than what Europe charges, the French customs authority says.

Prices aside, wine made in the U.S. is apparently appreciated in the European Union — the world’s premier importer — and in France, where the value of wine imported has risen 200 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the French Federation of Wines and Spirits Exporters.

Trump went after France on several fronts in tweets on Tuesday, including blasting tariffs on its emblematic wine.


Japan’s economy shrank in July-September as trade falls

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese economy has shrunk at an annualized rate of 1.2 percent in July-September, as consumer spending, investment and exports fell.

Cabinet Office preliminary data released today shows seasonally adjusted gross domestic product — the total value of a nation’s goods and services — dipped 0.3 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter.

Dragging on growth for the world’s third-largest economy was diminished trade, with exports falling 1.8 percent and imports dropping 1.4 percent, the data show. Consumer spending and company investments were also down.

The economy grew for the previous April-June quarter, but contracted the quarter before that. That contraction, in the first quarter, ended the longest straight period of expansion for Japan in nearly three decades.


Japan’s Shinzo Abe, US VP Mike Pence to visit Australia

SYDNEY (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Australia on Friday for talks on trade, investment, and the two countries’ reconciliation after World War II.

Abe will meet Australian counterpart Scott Morrison in Darwin, becoming the first Japanese leader to visit the city since its bombing by Japanese forces in 1942.

Morrison says he and Abe will acknowledge those who served in the war, while also holding talks on the countries’ trade and investment ties.

Abe is expected to also visit Japan’s biggest foreign investment, the $40 billion Ichthys gas project, which started sending liquefied natural gas to Japan last month.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who met Abe on Tuesday, will also be in Australia this weekend, staying in Cairns while attending the APEC leaders’ meeting in Papua New Guinea.


German posts Q3 GDP drop; first decrease since 2015

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s gross domestic product shrank in the third quarter of 2018, the first quarter-on-quarter decline since early 2015, which analysts say should be a wake-up call for Europe’s largest economy.

The Federal Statistical Office reports that GDP shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter, in figures adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar variations, largely due to foreign trade developments.

The office says exports were down and imports were up in the third quarter, while there were mixed signals from domestic demand.

The drop followed increases of 0.5 percent in the second quarter and 0.4 percent in the first.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski says signs point to a rebound, but that the data is “another wake-up call that political stability and strong growth are by no means a given.”


Iran executes ‘Sultan of Coins’ convicted of hoarding

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has executed the so-called “Sultan of Coins” and his accomplice for hoarding gold coins and other hard currency, signaling zero tolerance as it tries to shore up its currency in the face of an economic crisis.

State TV reported that Vahid Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged early today. They were convicted of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.

Iran detained Mazloumin in July for hoarding two tons of gold coins.

Iranians have stocked up on gold coins and other safe-haven investments as the local currency has plummeted in recent months amid renewed U.S. sanctions following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in May.

The Iranian rial has plunged to 135,000 to the dollar from last year’s rate of around 40,500.

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic’s already-ailing economy is in a “war situation.” Sporadic protests over the deteriorating economy have erupted in recent months.


French government: No U-turn on carbon tax

PARIS (AP) — France’s prime minister says there’ll be no U-turn in the government’s policy of hiking taxes on fossil fuels to encourage the take-up of cleaner energies, despite planned protests by vehicle drivers this weekend.

Edouard Philippe told RTL radio today, “We are not going to change course.”

Fuel prices have in recent weeks dominated the national discourse, with drivers gelling into an ad-hoc protest movement, dubbed “the yellow jackets” because they wear the fluorescent vests that French drivers are required to carry in their vehicles.

Philippe announced a bigger financial bonus for less well-off drivers who swap to cleaner vehicles.

But he says the government remains determined to help wean French consumers off polluting fossils fuels, to “free them from this dependency.”


Pilots says Boeing didn’t disclose jet’s new control feature

UNDATED (AP) — Pilots who fly Boeing’s 737 MAX in the U.S. say the airline manufacturer didn’t tell them about features of a new flight-control system that reportedly are part of the investigation into last month’s deadly crash in Indonesia.

The pilots say they were not trained in new features of an anti-stall system in the plane that differ from previous models of the 737.

The automated system is designed to help pilots avoid raising the plane’s nose too high, which can cause the aircraft to stall. It automatically pushes the nose of the plane down.


NTSB to probe fatal engine failure on Southwest flight

UNDATED (AP) — Federal safety officials plan to question representatives from engine maker CFM International and Boeing about the fatal accident on a Southwest Airlines jet this year.

The National Transportation Safety Board hearing today in Washington, D.C., is expected to last several hours.

The board is still investigating the April 17 accident, in which an engine fan blade broke and debris hit the plane, killing a woman who was blown partly out a broken window. Pilots landed the crippled plane safely in Philadelphia.

Investigators are focusing on the design and inspection of engine fan blades. After the accident, CFM recommended more advanced and frequent blade inspections, and regulators made those changes mandatory.

They will also look into the design of the engine housing, which is supposed to prevent pieces from breaking loose.


Hachette Book Group lays off around 2 dozen employees

NEW YORK (AP) — Around two dozen employees will be laid off in a re-organization at Hachette (hash-EHT’) Book Group.

The publisher announced Tuesday that various imprints would be consolidated and merged, ranging from the religious imprint FaithWords to the feminist Seal Press. Among those leaving are Hachette Books publisher Mauro DiPreta.

In a statement, the publisher said it wanted to “focus resources” in areas of growth and to “improve” its ability for future investment. Authors at Hachette Book Group include J.K. Rowling, David Sedaris and James Patterson.

The layoffs come just days after parent company Lagardere announced a “sparkling” third quarter for Hachette Book Group, with sales up 5.1 percent over the same period a year ago. Lagardere also reported sharp declines in other countries.

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