Update on the latest in business:


Japanese stocks rally, Asia mixed after Wall Street rebound

SINGAPORE (AP) — An incredible day on Wall Street, where major indexes finished at least 5 percent higher, lifted Japanese stocks Thursday, but received a mixed reaction in Asia as some traders returned from a Christmas break.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rebounded 3.9 percent, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.1 percent. The Hang Seng index was 0.5 percent lower. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 jumped 1.9 percent. Stocks climbed in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.


On Wednesday, U.S. markets snapped a four-day losing streak and clocked their best day in more than 10 years. Investors were reassured by an official signal that President Donald Trump, who has heavily criticized the Fed on Twitter, will not try to oust Chairman Jerome Powell. The broad S&P 500 index soared 5 percent to 2,467.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added more than 1,000 points — its biggest point gain in a day — or 5 percent to 22,878.45. The Nasdaq composite picked up 5.8 percent to 6,554.36. The Russel 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 5 percent to 1,329.81.


Major business and economic reports scheduled for today:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for December today.

Also, mortgage company Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.


A strong economy translates into big sales this holiday

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans buoyed by a strong economy pushed holiday sales growth to a six-year high.

Retail sales rose 5.1 percent between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 from a year ago, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracked spending online and in stores across all payment types, including those who paid by cash or check. Mastercard says total sales topped $850 billion this year.

Online sales continued to grow, up more than 19 percent from a year ago. Last week, Mastercard said online sales made up 13 percent of total retail sales.

Clothing sold well this year — up nearly 8 percent from last year, the biggest growth for apparel sales since 2010. Home furniture sales rose 2.3 percent, while electronics and appliances slipped 0.7 percent.

Shoppers spent less at department stores, which Mastercard says was partly due to store closings. But shoppers did head to the websites of department stores, where sales rose 10.2 percent.


Australian trader pleads guilty to ‘spoofing’ in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — An Australian commodities trader has pleaded guilty in Chicago federal court to manipulating market prices by placing orders in the millions of dollars and canceling them within milliseconds to sell smaller orders at a profit.

Jiongsheng “Jim” Zhao pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of spoofing. Prosecutors say the 31-year-old executed trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange online from Sydney.

His arrest in January was what the U.S. Justice Department said at the time, part of “the largest futures-market criminal enforcement action” in department history. At least seven others were charged around the same time.

Zhao’s Chicago lawyer, Theodore Poulos, told the judge his client made just $21,000 from the illegal trades. He said he and prosecutors would recommend a one-year prison sentence. Sentencing is July 19.


US says thousands were victims of organic grain fraud scheme

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Prosecutors say thousands of individuals and businesses were victims of a large-scale scheme in which ordinary corn and soybeans were fraudulently marketed nationwide as “certified organic.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said in a filing Wednesday that potentially “tens of thousands” were defrauded by Randy Constant and his associates into paying a premium for products that they didn’t want.

Constant, of Chillicothe, Missouri, and three others have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Constant, who owned an Iowa grain brokerage, acknowledged that he sold $142 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat over a 7 ½ year period that wasn’t organic despite his representations.

Constant was aware that most of his product was grown using non-organic methods. The buyers included companies who processed the grain into other products that were marketed as organic.


China ex-deputy intelligence chief given life sentence

BEIJING (AP) — China’s former deputy intelligence chief has been sentenced to life in prison for corruption.

A court in the northeastern port city of Dalian announced today that Ma Jian has been found guilty of crimes including accepting bribes and insider trading.

He was ordered to pay more than 50 million yuan ($7.26 million) in penalties.

The court said Ma used his political power to aid the business operations of Guo Wengui (gwoh WUHN’-gway), a real estate billionaire wanted by Chinese authorities.

The New York-based Guo has published a slew of online videos in which he makes sensational allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party.

The court said Ma also obtained insider information about securities shares that his relatives later purchased.

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