Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stock rally loses steam after US reports hiring slowdown

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks wobbled in midday trading on Wall Street after losing their momentum from the previous day’s record-setting rally as investors digested a weak jobs report. The major stock indexes, which had been edging higher, turned mixed.

The Dow Jones Industrial average briefly traded over 29,000 points for the first time before pulling back.

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The government reported that U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December, short of economists’ forecasts. A solid jobs market has been a key force behind recent economic growth.

Most major indexes are still above the record highs set on Thursday, when investors were encourged by a cooling in the Iran-U.S. conflict and because a “Phase 1” trade deal with China is expected to be signed next week.

Technology stocks led the gains. The sector has been behind much of the broader gains this week as Wall Street grows more optimistic about trade. Chipmakers and other companies rely heavily on China for sales and supply chains. Health care companies were also making solid gains.

Banks and other financial companies broadly fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.81% from 1.85% late Thursday. Industrial companies also slid. Boeing and United Technologies were among the largest decliners.

ECONOMY JOBS REPORT

US adds 145,000 jobs; unemployment holds at 3.5%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, signaling that the job market remains strong at the start of 2020 even if hiring and wage gains have slowed somewhat more than a decade into an economic expansion.

Friday’s snapshot from the Labor Department showed hiring slipped from robust gains of 256,000 in November, which were given a boost by the end of a strike at General Motors. For the year, employers added an average of roughly 175,000 jobs per month, compared with about 223,250 per month in 2018.

Annual wage growth fell in December to 2.9%, down from an annualized average of 3.3% a year earlier, a possible sign that some slack remains in the labor market and that unemployment could fall even further from its current half-century low.

Job growth has failed so far to translate into substantially better hourly pay. There is the potential that wages jumped in January as many states adjusted their minimum wages.

BOEING-PLANE-DOCUMENTS

Boeing papers show employees slid 737 Max problems past FAA

UNDATED (AP) — A newly released batch of emails and text messages shows Boeing employees raising doubts among themselves about the safety of the 737 Max and talking about hiding problems from regulators.

In the 117 pages of internal messages, Boeing employees talked about misleading regulators about problems with the company’s flight simulators. which are used to develop aircraft and then train pilots on the new equipment. In one exchange, an employee told a colleague he or she wouldn’t let family members ride on a 737 Max. The colleague agreed.

Employees also groused about Boeing’s senior management, the company’s selection of low-cost suppliers, wasting money, and the Max.

The documents were made public Thursday by Boeing at the urging of Congress, nearly 10 months after the aircraft was grounded over two catastrophic crashes.

The Max has been grounded worldwide since March, after two crashes five months apart — one involving Indonesia’s Lion Air, the other an Ethiopian Airlines flight — killed 346 people. Investigators believe the crashes were caused when the jetliners’ brand-new automated flight-control software mistakenly pushed the planes’ noses down.

Boeing is still working to fix the flight-control software and other systems on the Max and persuade regulators to let it fly again.

SPIRIT AEROSYSTEM LAYOFFS

Boeing travails begins to ripple, 2,800 jobs lost in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Problems for Boeing and its troubled 737 Max aircraft, which appear to be growing deeper, have begun to ripple outward with a major supplier announcing Friday that it will lay off more than 20% of its workforce in Kansas, where it is based.

The announcement of 2,800 layoffs at a major employer in Wichita, the state’s biggest city, come one day after documents became public showing that Boeing employees raised doubts about the safety of the 737 Max, apparently tried to hide problems from federal regulators, and ridiculed those responsible for designing and overseeing the jetliner.

The layoffs threaten to damage a state economy that’s been solid for months, with low unemployment, and better-than-anticipated state tax collections. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been able to boost spending on public schools and services, and the news comes three days before lawmakers open their annual session.

Spirit AeroSystems is the largest employer in Wichita, which bills itself as the “Air Capital of the World” due to a heavy concentration of aerospace manufacturers. More than 40 aerospace companies, mostly clustered in south-central Kansas, provide parts and services for the production of the 737 Max.

Spirit produced about 70% of the 737 Max, including the fuselage. Contracts with Boeing for the Max represents more than half of Spirit’s annual income.

AIRPORT-CYBER ATTACK

Christmas ransomware attack hit New York airport servers

COLONIE, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York airport and its computer management provider were attacked by ransomware over Christmas, officials said.

Officials at the Albany County Airport Authority announced Thursday that the attack came to light after Schenectady-based LogicalNet reported its own management services network had been breached. From there, the virus spread to the authority’s servers and backup servers, encrypting files.

The attack, which was discovered Christmas Day, encrypted administrative files like budget spreadsheets, but airport officials said no personal or financial traveler data was accessed, nor did it affect operations at Albany International Airport, which the authority oversees, or Transportation Security Administration or airline computers.

GRUBHUB-SALE

GrubHub says currently no plans to sell its business

UNDATED (AP) — Grubhub says there is no process in place to sell the company, a day after media reports said the company was exploring its options as competition in the food delivery business grows increasingly competitive.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Grubhub Inc. – the second-largest player in the U.S. market by sales – was thinking about putting itself up for sale.

Grubhub said in a statement that because of the media speculation, it felt it was necessary to clarify “that there is unequivocally no process in place to sell the company and there are currently no plans to do so.”

REFINERY-NATIONAL PARK

Planned refinery by national park hurt by funding, lawsuits

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Anemic funding, alleged unpaid work and legal fights are hobbling developers of a proposed $800 million oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.

But the project manager for Meridian Energy Group’s Davis Refinery — which has drawn criticism from environmental groups and others who worry it would add to pollution near the national park — insists it will be built.

Meridian wants to build the refinery just 3 miles from the park, which is the state’s top tourist attraction with more than 700,000 visitors annually. Environmental groups argue pollution from the factory will spoil scenery and air quality at the 30,000-acre park.

The company has said the project first proposed in 2016 will be the “cleanest refinery on the planet” and a model for environmentally friendly technology. But environmental groups are leery and have two disputes pending before North Dakota’s Supreme Court.

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