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Update on the latest in business:

January 22, 2019


Stocks extend losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are extending losses on Wall Street amid new signs the global economy is slowing.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its 2019 growth forecast, pointing to heightened trade tensions and rising interest rates.

Technology companies skidded, and so did industrial companies, hurt by the slower growth forecast as well as some weak fourth-quarter earnings.

Chipmaker Micron Technology fell 4.8 percent and construction equipment company Caterpillar lost 2.8 percent.

eBay jumped 7.5 percent after activist shareholder Elliott Management disclosed a 4 percent stake in the company.


US home sales plummeted 6.4 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales cratered in December, causing price growth to slip to the lowest level in more than six years as the housing sector ended 2018 on a decidedly weak note.

The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes plunged 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million last month, the worst pace in almost three years. For all of 2018, sales of existing homes fell 3.1 percent from a year ago to 5.34 million units, the weakest total since 2015.

Home sales have slowed after years of strong price growth and modest inventories hurt affordability. More properties are sitting on the market, as days until a signed contract increased to 46 from 40 days a year ago.

Higher mortgage rates initially triggered a softening in sales around May and climbed through November when many of the contracts were finalized for December sales. But rates have stabilized in recent weeks amid concerns about the U.S. stock market and a deterioration in global economic growth.


Pompeo ‘optimistic’ over China trade talks

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says he’s “optimistic” that there will be a “good outcome” in upcoming trade discussions with China in Washington.

A high-level Chinese delegation is due to arrive in the U.S. capital on Jan. 30 as the two sides seek to strike an accord to end their trade conflict.

Addressing delegates at the World Economic Forum via video-link because of the ongoing government shutdown in the United States, Pompeo said the “course of the relationship will be determined by the principles that America stands by.”

He noted those include “free and open seas” and “fair and reciprocal trade arrangements where every country has the opportunity to compete on a fair, transparent and open basis.”

If Beijing adopts such policies, Pompeo said, he’s “confident that our two nations can thrive and prosper together.”


Retraining workers could help US government

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Research shows that the U.S. government would stand to benefit from retraining the vast majority of the 1.4 million Americans expected to lose their jobs to technology over the next decade.

A study by the World Economic Forum, which is holding its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, found that businesses could only profitably retrain 25 percent of workers replaced by robots and other forms of automation. Success means putting the workers in jobs that require skills similar to those they already have and that can pay more than the jobs they lost.

The government could retrain 77 percent and still earn back its investment in the form of higher tax revenue and lower costs for unemployment benefits. Eighteen percent could be retrained by government — but not in a cost-effective way. Retraining will cost governments and businesses $34 billion over a decade, the study found.

Five percent couldn’t be retrained, the survey suggests.


Volvo recalls 200,000 cars worldwide to fix fuel line

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Volvo is recalling 200,000 diesel cars worldwide because the fuel line may crack. It says the recall is “a preventive safety measure.”

The company says the recall covers the Volvo V40, S60 and V60 and their Cross Country versions.

It also covers the V70 and XC70, S80, XC60 and XC90 built in 2015 and 2016.

Volvo is replacing the fuel line at no cost to affected owners.


Elliott pushes for changes at eBay

NEW YORK (AP) — An activist shareholder says eBay would be better off without StubHub or its classified ads businesses.

Elliott Management, which owns more than 4 percent of its stock, said in a letter to eBay that if it focused on its online marketplace, it could push its share price, which had been trading for around $30, to $55 or even more than $63 by the end of next year.

In early trading today, shares of eBay Inc. jumped 9 percent.

Elliott believes the Classifieds business has a potential value of $8 billion to $12 billion, with StubHub’s value at $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion.


Google’s self-driving unit Waymo to put factory in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Google’s autonomous vehicle unit Waymo says it plans to bring a factory to Michigan.

Waymo made the announcement today after the state’s economic development board approved an $8 million incentive grant. The state says the $13.6 million project will create 100 new jobs and potentially 300 more later.

Waymo says it will be the world’s first factory dedicated “100 percent” to the mass production of Level 4 autonomous vehicles.

Waymo says it’s looking for up to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters) of “ready-to-go” space in a manufacturing facility in the Detroit area, specifically in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties.


Google opens new office in Berlin with eye on expansion

BERLIN (AP) — American tech giant Google has opened a new office in Berlin that it says will give it the space to expand in the German capital.

CEO Sundar Pichai says the space means Google could more than double the number of Berlin employees to 300. Google currently has 1,400 employees in Germany.

Pichai says “the city has long been a capital of culture and media. Now it’s also home to a fast-growing startup scene and an engine for innovation.”

Google has faced regulatory headwinds in Europe, and was fined 50 million euros ($57 million) Monday in France for alleged violations of European data privacy rules.

Google Central Europe vice president Philipp Justus didn’t directly address the fine, but said Google’s committed to transparency and clarity on what data is collected and how it’s used.


Arconic no longer considering sale, shares slide

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Arconic are sliding at the opening bell after the aluminum maker said it’s no longer exploring a sale.

The company formerly known as Alcoa had considered a sale over the past year, but said Tuesday that it didn’t receive any offers it thought was in its best interests.

The maker of aluminum parts for the aviation and automotive industries was created after Alcoa split into two companies in 2016.

Shares in Arconic Inc. have lost about one-third of their value in the past 12 months, at tumbled 20 percent in early trading.

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