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Update on the latest business

January 3, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Apple leads tech stocks sharply lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks went into a steep slide after Apple reported a slowdown in iPhone sales over the holidays in China, a hugely important market for the company.

The rare warning of disappointing results from Apple sent a shudder through markets and reinforced fears that the world’s second-largest economy is weakening.

Apple plunged about 9 percent following its announcement. Chipmakers and suppliers of phone parts also fell.

Airlines are also down sharply after Delta trimmed its revenue forecast. Delta sank 7.6 percent.

Bond prices rose, sending yields sharply lower.

MORTGAGE RATES

US average mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 4.51 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, starting the year with an inducement to prospective homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.51 percent from 4.55 percent last week. Despite recent declines, home borrowing rates remain far above last year’s levels. The key 30-year rate averaged 3.95 percent a year ago.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate loans edged down to 3.99 percent this week from to 4.01 percent last week.

ADP

Survey: US firms added a strong 271,000 jobs in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses added a robust 271,000 jobs in December.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that last month’s job gains marked a sharp upturn from November’s gain of 157,000. The gains, if backed up by government numbers due Friday, could be strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

ADP reported a solid 37,000 increase in construction jobs. But the services sector was particularly strong with gains of 66,000 in the professional and business sector, 61,000 in education and health care and 39,000 in leisure and hospitality.

Economists forecast that the Labor Department will report Friday that employers added 180,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate holding at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent.

ECONOMY-MANUFACTURING

US factories expanded at slowest pace in more than 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — American factories grew last month at the slowest pace in more than two years.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, says its manufacturing index dropped to 54.1 in December, down from 59.3 in November and lowest since November 2016. Anything above 50 signals growth, and American manufacturing has been on a 28-month winning streak.

Still, the December drop was bigger than economists had expected.

New orders, production and factory hiring all grew at a slower pace last month. Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth last month, led by textile mills and apparel makers.

Several respondents cited higher costs and uncertainty arising from President Donald Trump’s import taxes on steel, aluminum and hundreds of Chinese products.

AIRBUS-US PLANT

Airbus to build additional aircraft on US Gulf Coast

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Airbus says it will fulfill two new aircraft orders at an expanding manufacturing operation on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The European aircraft maker said Thursday that 120 passenger aircraft ordered by JetBlue Airways and the start-up airline Moxy will be built in a new factory near the company’s existing plant in Mobile, Alabama.

The company says construction on the plant will begin later this month.

JetBlue and Moxy each ordered 60 of the A220-300 aircraft manufactured by Airbus. The plant will be located beside a factory where Airbus already produces the A320 aircraft in Mobile.

Airbus produced its first airplane on the Alabama coast in 2016. The new A220 line in Alabama is in addition to one the company is opening in Mirabel, Canada.

GENERAL MOTORS-UNION LAWSUIT

Union sues GM, says laid-off workers should replace temps

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union is accusing General Motors of violating a national contract by using temporary workers instead of employing full-timers who were laid off from its factories.

The union filed a federal lawsuit in Cleveland alleging that GM has temporary workers at its pickup truck plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The lawsuit says GM has about 1,000 workers on layoff from several factories who should be working at the plant.

The UAW says its contract with GM requires it to hire the laid-off workers, including 690 at a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, which is scheduled to close in March.

Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from the company.

In November, GM announced plans to shutter five factories this year as it adjusts to lower demand for cars.

GENERAL MOTORS-PRESIDENT

General Motors’ product development chief named president

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors has promoted product development chief Mark Reuss (Royce) to company president.

The longtime GM engineer replaces Dan Ammann, who is now CEO of GM’s autonomous vehicle unit called Cruise Automation.

Reuss will continue to lead product development and the Cadillac luxury brand, which he took on last year. In his new job, he’ll also head the company’s quality organization.

Reuss has been with the company for his entire career starting as an intern in 1983. In the past he has run operations in North America and Australia as well as GM’s engineering unit.

GM says he has been leading a transformation of the company’s product development workforce to improve quality and speed up bringing new vehicles to market.

BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB-CELGENE

Bristol-Myers Squibb buying Celgene in $74B deal

SUMMIT, N.J. (AP) — Bristol-Myers Squibb is buying Celgene in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $74 billion.

Shareholders of Celgene Corp., based in Summit, New Jersey, will receive one share of the cancer drug maker, plus $50 in cash for each share they own. They’ll also receive one tradeable contingent value right for each Celgene share, allowing the holder to receive a payment when future regulatory milestones are hit.

The combined company will have nine products with more than $1 billion in annual sales and significant potential for growth in the core disease areas of oncology, immunology and inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

Shareholders of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., based in New York City, would own about 69 percent of the company, with Celgene shareholders owning about 31 percent.

NEWSPAPER CHAIN-RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Alabama pension fund now sole owner of local newspaper chain

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s employee pension fund has become sole owner of one of the largest chains of local U.S. newspapers.

CHNI LLC has been acquired by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The company includes 68 daily newspapers and more than 40 non-dailies plus websites in 22 states.

The Montgomery, Alabama-based newspaper group is being spun off Raycom Media Inc., which is being purchased by the Atlanta-based Gray Television Inc. Raycom was owned by the retirement system.

CNHI previously operated with the state retirement system as its creditor. CNHI chief executive Donna Barrett says in a statement the acquisition will provide stability for the newspaper group.

Financial details weren’t announced.

Alabama’s pension fund has other non-traditional investments including golf courses, airliners and the largest office building in New York City.

NFL-CASINO DEAL

NFL, Caesars sign casino sponsor deal minus sports betting

The NFL is partnering with Caesars Entertainment as its first official casino sponsor, but the multiyear deal does not include sports betting or fantasy football.

The arrangement announced Thursday begins with this weekend’s playoffs and is worth $30 million annually for three years, a person with knowledge of the agreement tells The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced specific terms.

Caesars will draw on its properties, celebrity chefs, music artists and other entertainment platforms to provide NFL fans with “unique experiences.”

Caesars will have exclusive rights to NFL trademarks in the U.S. and United Kingdom, including the Super Bowl and draft. Caesars will host parts of the 2020 draft.

The Cowboys, Ravens, Saints, Falcons, Eagles, Bears, Raiders, Jets, Lions and Seahawks already have advertising agreements with casinos.

The NHL has a deal with casino giant MGM Resorts International that officially ties the league to a gambling company. That follows a similar deal MGM made earlier with the NBA.

AIRBNB REGULATIONS

Judge blocks NYC law demanding Airbnb disclosures

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge says a New York City law forcing Airbnb and HomeAway home-sharing platforms to reveal detailed information about its business seems unconstitutional.

Judge Paul Engelmayer on Thursday blocked the law from taking effect on Feb. 2, finding there’s a greater than 50 percent chance the companies would prevail on claims that the law violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The ruling comes at an early stage of the litigation. Lawyers for the city and the companies will gather additional evidence before Engelmayer makes a final ruling.

The city did not immediately comment.

The San Francisco-based Airbnb in a statement called the ruling a “huge win.”

The law was passed last summer.

SELF-DRIVING SNACK DELIVERY

Snacks on wheels: PepsiCo tests self-driving robot delivery

NEW YORK (AP) — Forget vending machines, PepsiCo is testing a way to bring snacks directly to college students.

The chip and beverage maker says it will start making deliveries with self-driving robots on Thursday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Students will be able to order Baked Lay’s, SunChips or Bubly sparkling water on an app, and then meet the six-wheeled robot at more than 50 locations on campus.

Other companies have been using self-driving vehicles to deliver food. Last month, supermarket operator Kroger announced it would start delivering groceries in a driverless vehicle from a store in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The robots used at the University of the Pacific will move at speeds of up to 6 miles per hour, says Robby Technologies, which makes the robots.

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