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Business Highlights

February 19, 2019

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I owe how much? Americans shocked by impact of new tax law

NEW YORK (AP) — The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising, confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government. The law is delivering the promised tax cut to most Americans, but is also generally upending many familiar practices that determine what happens at filing time.

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US automakers to Trump: Don’t slap tariffs on imported cars

DETROIT (AP) — America’s auto industry is bracing for a potential escalation in President Donald Trump’s tariff war with the world, one that could weaken the global auto industry and economy, inflate car prices and trigger a backlash in Congress. The Commerce Department has sent the White House a report on whether imported vehicles and parts pose a threat to U.S. national security. Commerce hasn’t made its recommendations public.

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Walmart flexes in the fourth quarter, beats all expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart defied a gloomy government December retail sales report, delivering fiscal fourth-quarter profits and sales that beat Wall Street expectations. The world’s largest retail also enjoyed another quarter of surging e-commerce sales during the critical holiday period as it expands its online assortment and services. Shares moved sharply higher in early morning trading Tuesday.

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Twitter tightens up EU political ad rules ahead of election

LONDON (AP) — Twitter says it’s tightening up rules for European Union political ads ahead of bloc-wide elections set for the spring. The social company’s announcement follows similar moves by fellow tech giants Facebook and Google. Twitter is extending restrictions already in place in the United States.

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Honda to shut plant in Brexit-shaken Britain

LONDON (AP) — Japanese carmaker Honda says it plans to close its car factory in western England in 2021. While the company says it’s not related to Brexit, the move is a fresh blow to the British economy as it struggles with the uncertainty associated with leaving the European Union. Honda’s decision was announced Friday and will imperil at least 3,500 jobs.

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Jailed Citgo executives in limbo amid Venezuela turmoil

HOUSTON (AP) — Six executives from the Houston-based Citgo oil company, five of them Americans, have spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges. As the Trump administration plunges headlong into an effort to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the fate of the six lies in the balance. As does that of the U.S. company they worked for — a major prize in the power struggle between Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

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Payless files for bankruptcy, closing North American stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Payless ShoeSource has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it prepares to shutter its remaining stores in North America. The filing was made on Monday, a day after it began holding going-out-of-business sales at its U.S. stores. The shoe chain updated the number of stores it plans to shutter to 2,500, up from 2,100 on Friday when it confirmed it was planning to liquidate its business. Stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May.

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EU gets heavy-duty on pollution: 1st standards for trucks

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement on the first specific EU standards for trucks, seeking to get polluting CO2 levels down. The agreement among negotiators from the European Parliament and member nations says such emissions for new trucks will have to be 30 percent lower by 2030 compared with today’s levels. The move is part of the EU’s plan to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 in an attempt to avoid catastrophic global warming.

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EU, UK to have more Brexit talks but key disagreement intact

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has warned British Prime Minister Theresa May that her trip to EU headquarters to seek an elusive breakthrough in Brexit negotiations stands no chance of success when it comes to her central demand for the divorce deal to be reopened. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also made it clear he had little hope that something fruitful would emerge during his talks Wednesday with May and that the stalemate between Britain and the 27 other EU nations would likely continue.

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US stocks bounce back from wobbly start to extend gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shock off an early wobble on Wall Street Tuesday, finishing modestly higher and extending the market’s gains into a fourth week. Solid earnings from Walmart encouraged investors to bid up other retailers and consumer goods companies. Communication services stocks and banks also contributed to the broad gains. Homebuilders also notched gains following an industry survey showing improved confidence among builders heading into the key spring homebuying season.

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The benchmark S&P 500 index gained 4.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,779.76. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.07 points, or 0.03 percent, to 25,891.32. The Nasdaq composite added 14.36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,486.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 5.22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,574.47.