Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Volatility continues in the new year

NEW YORK (AP) — There’s been more whiplash on Wall Street at the beginning of 2019. Stock indexes plunged as trading began Wednesday, turned mixed by midday, then moved into positive territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had been down nearly 400 points before bouncing back.

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Technology companies fell, but energy stocks rose as the price of oil turned higher. Small-company stocks rose.

Stocks are coming off their worst year in a decade as investors worry about slowing global economic growth and trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

US-CHINA TRADE-ECONOMIC PRESSURES

Why slowing economies could prod US and China to reach deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and China are facing growing pressure to blink in their six-month stare-down over trade because of jittery markets and portents of economic weakness.

The import taxes the two sides have imposed on hundreds of billions of each other’s goods — and the threat of more to come — have heightened anxiety on each side of the Pacific. The longer their trade war lasts, the longer companies and consumers will feel the pain of higher-priced imports and exports.

Their conflict is occurring against the backdrop of a slowdown in China and an expected U.S. slump that a prolonged trade war could worsen — a fear that’s weighing on financial markets. Yet those very pressures, analysts say, give the two countries a stronger incentive to make peace.

TESLA SALES

Tesla delivers record number of vehicles, cuts prices $2,000

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla says it delivered over 245,000 electric cars and SUVs last year, nearly as many as all previous years combined.

The company also says it’s cutting prices of its three vehicles by $2,000 to help customers handle the gradual phase-out of federal electric vehicle tax credits. On Jan. 1 the federal credit for Tesla buyers dropped from $7,500 to $3,750. It will gradually be phased out this year.

The company’s sales included almost 146,000 Model 3 lower-priced cars and another 99,000 of the more expensive Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 but still can’t be purchased for under $45,000.

The company says it made nearly 87,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, 8 percent above its previous quarterly record set in the third quarter.

SAUDI-NETFLIX

Netflix criticized for yanking Patriot Act episode in Saudi

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Netflix is facing criticism for pulling an episode from viewing in Saudi Arabia of American comedian Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” that criticized the kingdom’s crown prince.

Minhaj used his second episode to lambast the prince over the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The Financial Times first reported that Netflix yanked the episode from streaming in Saudi Arabia last week after Saudi officials informed the streaming service that its content violated cyber-crime laws in the kingdom.

Rights group Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix is “further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression.”

Netflix told the FT it strongly supports artistic freedom worldwide and only removed the episode after it received a legal request and to comply with local law.

QATAR AIR-CHINA

Qatar Airways acquires 5 percent stake in China Southern

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar Airways says it now holds a 5 percent share in China Southern Airlines, helping expand the Gulf carrier’s reach in one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets.

Qatar Airways Group said Wednesday the acquisition of additional shares of China Southern supports its overall investment strategy. The Mideast carrier has a 49 percent stake in Air Italy, nearly 10 percent in Cathay Pacific and LATAM Airlines Group, and a 20 percent investment in International Airlines Group — the holding company for British Airways among others.

China Southern Airlines is a member of SkyTeam, an alliance that includes Delta, KLM, Air France and others.

Despite losses off its revenue last year due to a boycott from neighboring Gulf states, Qatar Airways maintains it is the “world’s fastest growing airline.”

SAUSAGE RECALL

Alabama company recalls hot sausages due to metal bits

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama company has recalled tons of hot sausages because they may be contaminated with bits of metal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recall notice says it has not had any reports of injury from the R.L. Zeigler Co. sausages, which were shipped nationwide from Selma, Alabama.

The notice dated Sunday says the recall affects about 5.8 tons of chicken and pork sausage labeled as “red hots” — some of them also labeled “extra hot.”

They all are 24-ounce packages holding about nine links of sausage with a use-by date of Jan. 24.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says Zeigler received complaints on Dec. 13 and 27, investigated them, and notified the agency Saturday.

GAS PIPELINE-POTOMAC RIVER

Maryland board votes against natural gas pipeline project

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A board of high-ranking Maryland officials has rejected a pipeline across the western part of the state that would carry natural gas produced in Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

The Board of Public Works voted 3-0 Wednesday against an easement for TransCanada’s proposed pipeline. It would run under the Potomac River and extend 3 miles from Columbia Gas’ network in Pennsylvania to Mountaineer Gas’ distribution system in West Virginia.

One board member, Comptroller Peter Franchot, cited testimony that the pipeline could bring Maryland environmental problems without economic benefits. The board also includes Maryland’s governor and treasurer.

Environmentalists oppose the pipeline. Chesapeake Climate Action Network attorney Anne Havemann says she hopes this marks an end to the proposal, but further action by the federal government or the courts is possible.

NUCLEAR REACTORS-SOUTH CAROLINA

Dominion Energy completes buyout of South Carolina utility

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dominion Energy says it has completed its merger with a South Carolina utility drowning in debt after the failure of a nuclear construction project.

The Virginia-based company announced Wednesday that it paid $6.8 billion for SCANA Corp.’s stock and also is taking on SCANA’s consolidated net debts of $6.6 billion.

Dominion was the only buyer for the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas after SCANA abandoned the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion in 2017.

More than 737,000 SCE&G customers have already paid more than $2 billion toward the project. The deal approved by South Carolina regulators forces them to keep paying billions more, for the next 20 years.

MOVING TRENDS

Study finds that Vermont is top state for inbound moves

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Vermont’s population is among the smallest in the U.S., but a study from United Van Lines indicates people are moving to the New England state.

The suburban St. Louis-based moving company on Wednesday released its 42nd annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration patterns.

Vermont has the second-smallest population among states, exceeding only Wyoming. Yet Vermont saw the highest percentage of inbound moves in 2018.

Four Western states filled out the top 5: Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.

New Jersey had highest percentage of outbound moves, followed by Illinois, Connecticut, New York and Kansas.

The study showed that Americans continue to move west and south. The Mountain West and South regions saw high percentages of inbound moves. The Northeast and Midwest had high percentages of outbound moves.

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