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Update on the latest in business:

April 2, 2018


Asian markets mostly higher in muted Easter holiday trading

TOKYO (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher in muted trading Monday, as Hong Kong and Australian markets were closed for Easter, and Wall Street and other global markets have been closed for a long weekend after Good Friday.

New York trading resumes this morning.

Asian benchmarks appeared to be shrugging off fears that President Donald Trump’s tariff programs could set off a trade war. China raised import duties on U.S. pork, fruit and other products Monday in response to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum. A bigger dispute looms over Trump’s approval of possible higher duties on nearly $50 billion of Chinese goods.

A quarterly business outlook survey by Japan’s central bank shows corporate sentiment has worsened for the first time in two years. The Bank of Japan’s “tankan” index for large manufacturers was 24 in March, down two points from December.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose above $65 a barrel.

The dollar inched up against the yen and the euro.


Business and economic reports due out today:

WASHINGTON (AP) —The Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for March today.

Also, the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for February.


China imposing new tariffs on US meat, fruit, other products

BEIJING (AP) — China says it’s rolling out new tariffs on U.S. meat, fruit and other products as retaliation against taxes approved by President Donald Trump on imported steel and aluminum.

The Chinese finance ministry says in a statement that the new tariffs begin Monday.

The announcement follows through on warnings Chinese officials have made for several weeks in an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

China’s Customs Tariff Commission is increasing the tariff rate on eight imported U.S. products, including pork, by 25 percent. It’s also imposing a new 15 percent tariff on 120 imported U.S. commodities, including fruits.

The tariffs mirror Trump’s 25 percent charge on imported steel and 15 percent hike on aluminum. Trump’s tariffs are partly a response to complaints that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.


Japan survey shows corporate sentiment is worsening

TOKYO (AP) — A quarterly business outlook survey by Japan’s central bank shows corporate sentiment has worsened for the first time in two years.

The Bank of Japan’s “tankan” index for large manufacturers, released Monday, was 24 in March, down two points from December.

The forecast continued to be pessimistic with the index expected to fall to 20 over the next quarter.

The survey is seen as a major economic indicator.

The index is the difference between companies surveyed that have a “favorable” outlook and those with an “unfavorable” outlook.

So the reading still shows optimists outnumber pessimists but that difference is starting to shrink.

A looming U.S.-China trade war after President Donald Trump’s tariffs and China’s action in response could further hurt the Japanese economy.


Trump goes after Amazon — again — over postal delivery

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is again attacking online retailer Amazon.com, calling its deal with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages a money-losing agreement that hurts U.S. taxpayers.

In tweets Saturday, Trump calls the Amazon deal a post office “scam.”

He writes that “the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars.”

Amazon lives and dies by shipping, and an increase in the rates it pays could certainly do some damage. Amazon sends packages via the post office, FedEx, UPS and other services.

But while the Postal Service has lost money for 11 years, package delivery is not the reason. Most of its losses are due to pension and health costs, as well as declines in first-class letters.


Data breach hits Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor stores

NEW YORK (AP) — A data breach at department store chains Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off Fifth and Lord & Taylor has compromised the personal information of customers who shopped at the stores.

The chains’ parent company, Canada-based Hudson’s Bay Co., announced the breach of its store payment systems on Sunday. The company said it was investigating and taking steps to contain the attack.

New York-based security firm Gemini Advisory LLC says that a hacking group called JokerStash announced last week that it had put up for sale more than 5 million stolen credit and debit cards, and that the compromised records came from Saks and Lord & Taylor customers.

Hudson’s Bay hasn’t said how many stores or customers were affected. The company says customers won’t be liable for fraudulent charges. It plans to offer free identity protection services.


FirstEnergy unit that runs power plants files for bankruptcy

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A subsidiary that runs FirstEnergy Corp.’s nuclear and coal-fired power plants has filed for bankruptcy.

The move announced late Saturday by FirstEnergy Solutions signals the parent company’s plan to get out of the power producing business.

It comes after the utility said March 28 that it intends to shut down its three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania within the next three years.

The company’s power-producing subsidiary says it’s seeking bankruptcy protection to “facilitate an orderly financial restructuring” and the filing is in the best interest of the company and creditors.

FirstEnergy has been unable to get financial help from federal and state leaders to keep its nuclear plants operating.

Akron-based FirstEnergy supplies electricity to about 6 million customers in six states from Ohio to New Jersey.


Tesla says vehicle in deadly crash was on Autopilot

NEW YORK (AP) — Tesla says the vehicle in a fatal California crash was operating on Autopilot, the latest accident to involve self-driving technology.

The automaker says the driver, who was killed in the accident, did not have his hands on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash. Tesla says its Autopilot feature, which can keep speed, change lanes and self-park, requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel to take control of the vehicle to avoid accidents.

Earlier this month, a self-driving Volvo SUV being tested by ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Tesla Inc., in a blog post, defended its Autopilot feature, saying that while it doesn’t prevent all accidents, it makes them less likely to occur.


Bahrain discovers largest oil field in country since 1932

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain says it has discovered its largest oil field since the country’s first oil well began operation nearly 90 years ago.

The government said Sunday that the new resource is “understood to dwarf Bahrain’s current reserves.”

Details about the initial findings of size and extraction viability are to be released by the Oil Ministry at a news conference Wednesday.

Bahrain says the tight oil and deep natural gas field was discovered off the west coast of the island in the Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin.

The non-OPEC producer extracts oil from an offshore field it shares with Saudi Arabia and the onshore Bahrain field.


Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ tops holiday box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure “Ready Player One” has topped the domestic box office over the holiday weekend.

Studio estimates on Sunday say the Virtual Reality-focused film earned a solid $53.2 million in its first four days in theaters from 4,234 locations.

Based on Ernest Cline’s popular novel and chock-full of references to 1980s pop culture, “Ready Player One” cost a reported $175 million to produce.

“Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” took second place. Driven by an overwhelmingly female audience, the Taraji P. Henson-starrer grossed $17.1 million over the 3-day weekend, followed by “Black Panther” in third place with $11.3 million.

Faith-based films also competed for attention, including “I Can Only Imagine” which scored again with $10.8 million, outshining “Paul, Apostle of Christ’s” $3.5 million and “God’s Not Dead 3′s” $2.6 million.


Rock Hall receives $4.1M sponsorship; to partner in festival

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says it will receive $4.1 million over five years to help expand its youth education programs and community activities.

The Rock Hall announced this week that PNC Bank has pledged $3.75 million to support various programming such as free events and live music. The PNC Foundation pledged another $375,000 to help underwrite the youth education program Toddler Rock.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports the Rock Hall also is partnering with others to bring a music festival to downtown Cleveland this summer.

The inaugural InCuya festival on Aug. 25 and 26 will be presented by concert promoter AEG Presents in partnership with the Rock Hall, the city of Cleveland and Destination Cleveland.

The cross-genre and multigenerational festival will feature national and local musicians.

Update hourly