Asian stocks slip on continuing global trade worries
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks slipped Monday, as investor worries continued about global trade tensions and prospects for economic growth.
On Wall Street Friday, the S&P 500 index rose 38.76 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,767.13 to end a six-day losing streak last week. The benchmark index tumbled 4.1 percent during the week, and it’s down 5.6 percent since from its latest record high, set Sept. 20. The Nasdaq composite jumped 167.83 points, or 2.3 percent, to 7,496.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a gain of 287.16 points, or 1.1 percent, at 25,339.99.
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Investors are growing worried that U.S.-China trade tensions are impairing global economic growth. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global economic growth last week because of trade tensions and increased interest rates.
News that Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump may meet have set off some hope that tensions in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies might ease. But worries about the increased tariffs the two sides have imposed on each other’s goods, a move that tends to dampen growth, are contributing to volatility in financial markets.
U.S. benchmark crude oil rose above $72 a barrel.
The dollar slipped against the yen and gained against the euro.
Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt
NEW YORK (AP) — Sears has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses.
Sears once dominated the American retail landscape. But the big question is whether the shrunken version of itself can be viable or will it be forced to go out of business, closing the final chapter for an iconic name that originated more than a century ago.
The company, which started out as a mail order catalog in the 1880s, has been on a slow march toward extinction as it lagged far behind its peers and has incurred massive losses over the years. The operator of Sears and Kmart stores joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last few years amid a fiercely competitive climate.
The filing, which is happening ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season, comes after rescue efforts engineered by its CEO and chairman Eddie Lampert have kept it outside of bankruptcy court — until now. Lampert, the largest shareholder, has been loaning out his own money for years and has put together deals to prop up the company, which in turn has benefited his own ESL hedge fund.
Last year, Sears sold its famous Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc., following its earlier moves to spin off pieces of its Sears Hometown and Outlet division and Lands’ End.
In recent weeks, Lampert has been pushing for a debt restructuring and offering to buy some of Sears’ key assets like Kenmore through his hedge fund as a $134 million debt repayment comes due on Monday.
The company has racked up $6.26 billion in losses, excluding one-time events, since its last annual profit in 2010.
Study: Without Medicaid expansion, poor forgo medical care
WASHINGTON (AP) — A government report says that low-income people in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are much more likely to forgo needed medical care than the poor in other states.
The study by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that nearly 20 percent of low-income people in states that did not expand Medicaid passed up needed medical care because of cost. That was more than double the share going without in states that expanded. Medicaid expansion is an election issue in major states.
Medicaid is a federal-state program that has grown to cover about 1 in 5 U.S. residents, from many newborns to severely disabled people to elderly nursing home residents. Its total cost is about $570 billion a year. Former President Barack Obama’s health care law expanded Medicaid to allow states to cover low-income adults with no children living at home.
On Election Day, voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will decide whether their states should expand the program. Montana voters will decide on maintaining that state’s expansion.
Expansion also is an issue in gubernatorial races in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin, which have not expanded Medicaid.
NEW ZEALAND-JAPAN-FOREIGN MINISTER VISIT
Japan raises concerns over Pacific’s debt to China
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister raised concerns Monday about the high levels of debt accrued by some Pacific Island nations and said his country wants to help resolve the problem.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono made the comments while visiting New Zealand, where he met with his counterpart Winston Peters.
Some observers have become alarmed at the growth in Chinese lending in the Pacific and worry that small countries such as Tonga and Vanuatu are becoming beholden to China because of their high debt levels.
Kono didn’t mention China specifically in his comments. But he said the Pacific region was important in a strategic sense to both Japan and New Zealand.
Peters said New Zealand was also concerned about the loans and the ability of small island nations to repay them.
Peters said neither Japan nor New Zealand had gone so far as to offer to repay the loans directly.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Business and economic reports due out today
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department releases two reports today.
One report covers retail sales data for September: the other looks at business inventories for August.
Defense contractors Harris, L3 Technologies to merge
NEW YORK (AP) — Defense contractors Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies are combining to form one of the world’s largest defense companies.
The new company, L3 Harris Technologies Inc., will have annual sales of around $16 billion this year. That would make it the sixth-largest U.S. defense contractor and one of the top 10 globally.
The company will employ 48,000 people and will have headquarters in Melbourne, Florida, where Harris is currently based. L3 is based in New York.
The boards of both companies agreed to the all-stock merger.
L3 and Harris are longtime competitors that make similar products, including satellites for surveillance and broadband communications systems for the military and police.
The companies say they expect to achieve $500 million in annual pretax cost synergies by the third year of the merger.
SAUDI ARABIA-MISSING WRITER
More executives pulling out of Saudi conference
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — More major players in international finance and industry are pulling out of a high-profile business conference in Saudi Arabia in the wake of reports that a Saudi writer critical of the government disappeared and is feared dead after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jamie Dimon (DY’-muhn), had been a featured speaker at the conference in Riyadh. The Wall Street Journal reports that Dimon has backed out.
Ford Motor Co. confirms that Executive Chairman Bill Ford will not attend. He too had been scheduled to speak.
Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.
Mexico assures China that new trade deal won’t hurt ties
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico has assured the Chinese government that new trade terms it agreed to with the United States and Canada won’t dampen its economic and bilateral relations with China.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Luis Videgary told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi by telephone Saturday that the trade deal doesn’t represent an obstacle to Mexico’s relationship with China.
A provision in the deal specifies that the North American agreement could be terminated if any of the three members signed a trade deal with a “non-market” country such as China.
Mexico has long competed with China for manufacturing work. However, ties have improved in recent years via partnerships such as the $1.2 billion China-Mexico Fund, which was created in 2014 to invest in Mexican companies with capital from both countries.
Who does Trump listen to on trade? Chinese envoy at a loss
WASHINGTON (AP) — China’s ambassador to the United States says he and other foreign diplomats in Washington are having a difficult time figuring out which trade advisers President Donald Trump listens to in his administration.
Cui Tiankai (sway tee-yehn-KY’) was asked on “Fox News Sunday” about trade tensions between the economic powers and if he was clear whether the president follows the guidance of trade moderates or hard-liners.
The envoy replied, “You tell me.”
Cui added, “Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, D.C., and this is also part of their problem.”
He says the diplomats “don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision, but who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing.”
BRITAIN-50 POUND NOTE
Britain to introduce new, more secure 50-pound notes
LONDON (AP) — Britain plans to keep the 50-pound ($65) note part of its currency by introducing a new more secure version of its highest value bill.
The Bank of England said Saturday the new 50-pound note will be printed on thin, flexible polymer with extra security measures to prevent forgeries.
Officials say the public will be consulted over which British figure will adorn the new bill.
The new note will not be introduced until the newest version of the 20-pound note enters circulation in 2020.
Bank officials say polymer is cleaner and more durable than paper money and also allows for extra security features to be added.
It is already being used in Britain 5-pound and 10-pound notes.
Round of talks don’t resolve Brexit problems ahead of summit
LONDON (AP) — The European Union’s top Brexit negotiator says urgent talks with Britain’s point person did not result in their reaching agreement on outstanding issues.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier said: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open” in the divorce talks between the European Union and Britain.
Barnier and his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, met in Brussels for surprise talks on Sunday.
The discussion prompted rumors that a full agreement might be imminent, but Barnier says the future of the border on the island of Ireland remain a serious obstacle.
He says the need “to avoid a hard border” between Ireland and the U.K’s Northern Ireland is among the unsettled issues.
An EU official says no further negotiations are planned before an EU leaders summit on Wednesday.
TROPICAL WEATHER-FLORIDA INSURANCE
Analysts: Florida insurers will survive hit from Michael
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s disjointed property insurance system that relies almost exclusively on small and midsize companies will take a multi-billion dollar loss from Hurricane Michael, but has sufficient reserves and backups that providers should be able to pay claims without problems.
Analysts estimate private insurers will pay $6 billion in claims for wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and vehicles.
Major national players like State Farm write few if any homeowners policies in Florida because of the high risk of hurricane losses, leaving the market to smaller companies and the state-created insurer of last resort, Citizens Property.
Insurance analyst Fitch Ratings said the Florida companies can withstand storm like Michael that hit sparsely populated areas of the state, but would struggle is a major storm hit Miami or another big city.
‘First Man’ blasts off behind ‘Venom,’ ‘A Star Is Born’
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Neil Armstrong film “First Man” has landed in third place at the North American box office, behind last weekend’s champs “Venom” and “A Star Is Born.”
Studio estimates on Sunday say that the Ryan Gosling-starrer brought in $16.5 million.
Directed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle, “First Man” cost nearly $60 million to produce. Universal Pictures expects it to have a long box office life.
First place again went to “Venom” which added $35.7 million, bringing its domestic total to $142.8 million.
Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” fell only 35 percent in weekend two, earning $28 million to take second place.
The family friendly “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” opened in fourth place with $16.2 million, while “Bad Times At The El Royale” debuted in seventh place with $7.2 million.
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