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Update on the latest in business:

December 7, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares rise on Wall Street gains amid trade friction

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Friday after gains on Wall Street but investors continued to watch for news about U.S.-China trade friction.

On Wall Street Thursday, the S&P 500 index fell 4.11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,695.95. The Dow dropped 79.40 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,947.67. The average briefly slumped as much as 784 points. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite reversed an early loss to finish with a gain, adding 29.83 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,188.26. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gave up 3.34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,477.41. U.S. stock and bond trading were closed Wednesday because of a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush.

Last week, stocks jumped after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the central bank might consider a pause in rate hikes next year while it gauges the impact of its credit tightening program.

The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys from foreign countries hit $55.5 billion in October, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The politically sensitive deficit with China rose 7.1 percent to a record $43.1 billion.

U.S. benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $51 a barrel.

The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

CHINA-SPACE

China prepares mission to land spacecraft on moon’s far side

BEIJING (AP) — China is preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and U.S.

With its Chang’e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing. The moon’s far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the mission scheduled to blast off aboard a Long March 3B rocket early Saturday local time will propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

CHINA-HUAWEI

Why Huawei arrest deepens conflict between US and China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The dramatic arrest of a Chinese telecommunications executive has driven home why it will be so hard for the Trump administration to resolve its deepening conflict with China.

In the short run, the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer heightened skepticism about the trade truce that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping reached last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Thursday, U.S. stock markets tumbled on fears that the 90-day cease-fire won’t last, before regaining most of their losses by the close of trading.

The Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, faces extradition to the United States, and a bail hearing was set for Friday.

But the case of an executive for a Chinese company that’s been a subject of U.S. national security concerns carries echoes well beyond tariffs or market access. Washington and Beijing are locked in a clash over which of the world’s two largest economies will command economic and political dominance for decades to come.

Meng was detained by Canadian authorities in Vancouver as she was changing flights Saturday — the same day that Trump and Xi met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina and produced a cease-fire in their trade war. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, reported that she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The British bank HSBC is cooperating with U.S. authorities in its investigation, people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

TRUMP RESORT-ILLEGAL WORKERS

Lawyer: Trump resort hired undocumented workers

(Information in the following story is from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com)

NEW YORK (AP) — Two women who cleaned rooms set aside for President Donald Trump at one of his golf resorts in New Jersey say they used false papers to get hired, their supervisors knew it and that many employees there also lack legal documents.

Anibal Romero, a lawyer representing Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, said on Thursday that the two used false Social Security and permanent residency documents to get jobs at Trump’s golf resort Bedminster, New Jersey. He also said that a supervisor hurled racial epithets at the women and threatened them with deportation to get more work out of them.

The two are now considering a lawsuit against the Trump Organization for workplace abuse and discrimination. One of them, Morales, who says she cleaned Trump’s clothes and toilet and made his bed, is also seeking asylum.

The Trump Organization did not answer questions emailed by The Associated Press about the allegations, but said in a statement that it has the highest standards for job applicants.

The New York Times first wrote about the two women, noting that there is no evidence that the Trump Organization knew they did not have legal documents.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases last month’s employment data this morning.

Analysts forecast that American employers added 195,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% in November.

And the Commerce Department reports on wholesale trade inventories in October.

Also, the Federal Reserve releases its October report on consumer borrowing.

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL

Fed chairman says central bank concerned about rural poverty

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. economy overall is strong but many rural areas are falling farther behind.

Powell says unemployment in the poorest rural countries is more than double the national average last year, while those employed or looking for jobs in their prime working years has increasingly lagged during the current expansion.

To address this problem, Powell says the Fed is supporting a number of initiatives ranging from sponsoring regional forums to spur rural economic development to supporting efforts to advance internet access in low-income rural areas.

In comments Thursday to a rural housing conference, Powell says the Fed is committed to pursuing ways to ensure that the current economic upturn benefits areas that have been left behind.

NATIONAL HEALTH SPENDING

Report: US health spending hits $3.5T but growth slows

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government report says the nation’s health care tab hit $3.5 trillion last year, or $10,739 per person. But behind those staggering figures is some fairly good news:

The rate of growth slowed for the second year in a row, economic experts at the federal Health and Human Services department reported Thursday.

Health care spending increased by 3.9 percent in 2017, following a 4.8 percent increase in 2016.

Private insurance spending grew more slowly in 2017, and so did Medicaid, while Medicare costs grew at about the same rate. The overall economy grew faster than health spending.

If moderate growth can be maintained, that would make the U.S. health care system more manageable for families, employers and government.

Coverage expansion and drug costs had earlier led to bigger spending increases.

CHEAPER EPIPEN RIVAL

Drugmaker to sell cheaper generic rival to EpiPen injectors

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A generic drugmaker plans to start selling a slightly cheaper version of the EpiPen in the U.S. early next year.

The penlike injectors are used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. Brand-name EpiPen, which dominates the market, has been in short supply since spring because of production problems.

Drugmaker Sandoz said Thursday the price of two generic injectors will be $250 without insurance. Two other generics on the market in the U.S. cost $300 a pair. Brand-name EpiPens sold by Mylan cost at least twice as much.

The price people pay varies, though, depending on insurance and discounts.

Mylan was blasted in the past for price hikes that pushed the price over $600. It responded by selling its own generic.

FIAT CHRYSLER-DETROIT PLANT

Source: Fiat Chrysler to put assembly plant in Detroit area

UNDATED (AP) — Fiat Chrysler will open another assembly plant in the Detroit area, according to a person familiar with the automaker’s plan.

The source says the plant will produce SUVs but did not specify when it will open or how many jobs it will create.

Fiat Chrysler did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The decision comes as other automakers are retrenching. General Motors announced last week that it plans to cut up to 14,000 jobs in North America and consider closing five plants as it abandons many cars in favor of trucks and SUVS, as well as autonomous and electric vehicles.

The Detroit News reported Thursday that the company plans to reopen a former engine plant on the city’s east side to build SUVs with three rows of seats.

LEBANESE BUSINESSMAN-HEZBOLLAH

Lebanese businessman pleads guilty to violating US sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Lebanese businessman accused of providing millions of dollars to the Hezbollah militant group has pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions.

The Justice Department says Kassim Tajideen appeared in court Thursday in Washington.

The 63-year-old is accused of violating sanctions that barred him from doing business with Americans and U.S. companies because of his support for Hezbollah.

Prosecutors say Tajideen conspired with at least five other unidentified people to conduct over $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses.

They say Tajideen and the others also conducted transactions that moved about $1 billion through U.S. financial systems.

Tajideen was arrested in Morocco and extradited to the U.S. in March 2017.

Hezbollah has members in Lebanon’s parliament and Cabinet and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

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