Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares rise despite continuing virus fears

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were higher today, although the outbreak of a new virus in the region continued to weigh on investor sentiments.

Japan’s Nikkei ended 0.7% higher. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.1%, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.9%.

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Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 5.66 points, or 0.2%, to 3,357.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.48 points, or less than 0.1%, to 29,276.34. It had been up 0.5%.

The Nasdaq composite gained 10.55 points, or 0.1%, to 9,638.94. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 9.85 points, or 0.6%, to 1,677.51.

JAPAN-CRUISE SHIP

Japan confirms 39 new virus cases, 174 total on cruise ship

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s health ministry says that 39 new cases of a virus have been confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined at a Japanese port.

The update brings the total found on the Diamond Princess to 174 cases.

The ministry also says the virus was confirmed in an official who participated in the initial quarantine checks the night the ship returned to Yokohama Port near Tokyo on Feb. 3. The quarantine official is being treated in the hospital.

The new cases bring Japan’s total to 203 people infected by the virus, now known as COVID-19. Concerns over the virus have rerouted and canceled other cruises.

JAPAN-EARNS-SOFTBANK

SoftBank’s profit drop amid WeWork worries, Sprint approval

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. says its profit for the last quarter dropped amid worries about the perceived risk of its investments into companies like WeWork.

Tokyo-based SoftBank says its profit for the October-December quarter stood at 55 billion yen ($500 million), down to less than a tenth of the 698 billion it earned over the three months in 2018.

In a bit of good news, a U.S. judge in New York on Tuesday rejected a challenge by a group of states to T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint. SoftBank owns Sprint.

The deal has been two years in the making, and the latest development appears to clear nearly all the hurdles. The agreement already has U.S. regulatory approval and the go-ahead from public utility commissions. T-Mobile now expects to close the deal as early as April 1.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-FAA OVERSIGHT

Federal report faults Southwest Airlines and FAA on safety

DALLAS (AP) — A government watchdog says Southwest Airlines continues to fly airplanes with safety concerns, putting 17.2 million passengers at risk, while federal officials do a poor job overseeing the airline

According to a report by the Transportation Department’s inspector general, the airline has flown more than 150,000 flights on 88 jets it bought on the used-plane market and which have unconfirmed maintenance histories.

The FAA gave the airline more time to bring the planes in compliance with federal rules because it accepted Southwest’s argument that the issues were low safety risks. The watchdog office added that FAA has not given its inspectors enough guidance on reviewing risk assessments and evaluating an airline’s safety culture.

TESLA INVESTIGATION

NTSB releases details in 2 crashes involving Tesla Autopilot

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An Apple engineer who died when his Tesla Model X slammed into a concrete barrier had previously complained about the SUV malfunctioning on that same stretch of Silicon Valley freeway.

His complaints were detailed in a trove of documents released Tuesday by federal investigators in two Tesla crashes involving Autopilot, one in California and the other in Florida.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the March 2018 crash that killed Walter Huang near Mountain View, California. It’s also probing a crash in Delray Beach, Florida, that happened about a year later and killed driver Jeremy Banner.

HONDA RECALL

Honda recalls minivans to fix wiring that could be fire risk

DETROIT (AP) — Honda is recalling 241,000 Odyssey minivans in the U.S. to fix a wiring problem that could cause a fire.

The recall covers EX-L, Touring and Elite minivans from the 2018 through 2020 model years. The company says the wiring harness running to a third-row power outlet may have been pinched and damaged during manufacturing. That can cause a short circuit, which can ignite a plastic interior panel covering. The company has three reports of fires with no injuries.

Honda said Tuesday that owners will be notified of the recall by mail in mid-March. Dealers will reroute the wiring and cover it with insulating tape. If the wiring harness is damaged, it will be replaced.

LYFT-RESULTS

Lyft annual loss more than doubles, but revenue keeps rising

UNDATED (AP) — Ride-hailing service Lyft’s annual loss more than doubled last year to over $2.6 billion, but the company claimed progress as revenue jumped 68% and ridership grew.

The San Francisco company is predicting another big revenue gain for this year, with a narrower pretax loss of $450 million to $490 million.

But in results released after the markets closed Tuesday, Lyft isn’t predicting a fourth-quarter profit this year like Uber, its main rival.

Annual revenue was $3.62 billion, up from 2.16 billion in 2018.

MEDICAL BILL WORRIES

US survey finds smaller decline in medical bill worries

UNDATED (AP) — A big U.S. survey finds that a smaller proportion of people are in families struggling to pay medical bills. But that number isn’t dropping like it used to.

The report, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that a little more than 14 percent of people interviewed in 2018 said they belong to a family struggling with medical bills.

That’s a big drop from nearly 20 percent who reported the same worry in 2011. But it’s only slightly less than the percentage reporting this problem in 2017.

Researchers say the smaller decline in recent years reflects broader health care trends.

MICHAEL AVENATI-NIKE

Tapes of Avenatti threats highlight extortion trial closings

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Avenatti’s attorney borrowed Nike’s iconic advertising slogan in a closing argument Tuesday at an extortion trial, saying Avenatti followed a client’s wishes to be in attack mode when he went into a meeting with the apparel giant’s lawyers intent to “Just Do It” for his client.

The attorney, Howard Srebnick, urged jurors to disregard the California attorney’s four-letter words as he threatened Nike lawyers that he’d publicize misdeeds and pummel the value of the company’s stock unless he was paid up to $25 million to conduct an internal probe.

Srebnick’s brother, Scott, another lawyer representing Avenatti, told jurors that an amateur youth basketball coach in California and the coach’s adviser considered Avenatti to be the kind of “heavy artillery” they needed on their side to force out corruption at Nike and get a fair settlement.

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