Asian markets mixed following losses on Wall Street
SINGAPORE (AP) — Benchmarks in Asia were mixed with thin trading on Friday after a discouraging day on Wall Street. News reports highlighting obstacles in the way of a China-U.S. trade deal also weighed on sentiment.
U.S. website Politico, citing a representative of a lobbying group for American businesses, reported that the deal may not see China putting a commitment to cut back on state subsidies in writing. Global Times, a Chinese tabloid, noted that there were fewer details from recent negotiations in Beijing. But there was an overall consensus that both countries would ink a deal at some point.
On Thursday, losses by energy, technology and communications stocks handed Wall Street its second straight loss.
The broad S&P S&P 500 index fell 0.2% to 2,917.52 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5% to 26,307.79. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was down 0.2% at 8,036.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks edged 0.4% higher to 1,582.65.
Traders are still mulling over recent comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said the central bank was “comfortable” with its current policy stance. This was taken to mean that the Fed was not likely to cut interest rates this year despite low inflation.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped to remain just below $62 per barrel.
The dollar eased against the yen and gained against the euro.
A solid US job gain expected for April amid resilient growth
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers are expected to have delivered a solid month of job growth in April, buoyed by a resilient economy that has confounded concerns that 2019 would begin with a slowdown.
Economists have forecast that employers added 181,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate stayed at a low 3.8%, according to data provider FactSet. It would follow a 196,000 job gain in March and would roughly equal the average monthly gain for the first three months of the year.
Another decent hiring gain would highlight the economy’s steady health just months after many analysts had expressed fear that growth was poised to weaken and a recession might soon occur.
At the start of the year, the federal government was enduring a partial shutdown, the stock market had plunged, trade tensions between the United States and China were flaring and the Federal Reserve had just raised short-term interest rates in December for a fourth time in 2018. Analysts worried that the economy might barely expand in the first three months of the year.
Yet the outlook soon brightened. Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the Fed would put rate hikes on hold. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China made some progress. The economic outlook in some other major economies improved. Share prices rebounded.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Business and economic reports scheduled for release today
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases employment data for April day.
Also, the Institute for Supply Management issues its service sector index for April,
MEDICARE DRUG COSTS
Budget office: $177B in added costs from Trump drug plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Budget experts for Congress say the Trump administration’s plan to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries will cost taxpayers another $177 billion from 2020-2029.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis released on Thursday could affect prospects for one of the administration’s centerpiece proposals to lower drug costs.
Under the plan, drugmaker rebates now paid to insurance companies and their middlemen would instead go directly to seniors in Medicare’s Part D program when they fill prescriptions.
While that would reduce copays for many beneficiaries, CBO projected it would increase taxpayer-subsidized premiums, adding $170 billion to program costs. Medicaid spending would increase by $7 billion.
CBO concluded that drug companies are unlikely to lower list prices in response to the plan.
The Trump administration disputes the budget office’s conclusion, saying its proposed drug pricing regulation should result in savings.
BREAST IMPLANTS-SAFETY UPDATE
Breast implants tied to rare cancer to remain on US market
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health authorities will allow a type of breast implant linked to a rare form of cancer to stay on the market, saying its risks do not warrant a national ban.
But the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it is considering bold warnings for the implants and requiring stricter reporting of problems by manufacturers.
The announcement is the latest in the government’s decades-long effort to manage implant risks and complications that can include scarring, pain, swelling and rupture.
In recent years, the FDA and other regulators around the world have grappled with the recently confirmed link to a rare cancer and the thousands of unconfirmed complaints of other health problems that women attribute to the implants, including arthritis, fatigue and muscle pain.
OPIOID KICKBACK SCHEME
Pharmaceutical exec guilty of bribing doctors to push opioid
BOSTON (AP) — A pharmaceutical company founder accused of paying doctors millions in bribes to prescribe a highly addictive fentanyl spray was convicted Thursday in a case that exposed such marketing tactics as using a stripper-turned-sales-rep to give a physician a lap dance.
John Kapoor, the 76-year-old former chairman of Insys Therapeutics, was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy after 15 days of jury deliberations. Four ex-employees of the Chandler, Arizona-based company, including the former exotic dancer, were also convicted.
Some of the most sensational evidence in the months-long federal trial included a video of employees dancing and rapping around an executive dressed as a giant bottle of the powerful spray Subsys, and testimony about how the company made a habit of hiring attractive women as sales representatives.
Report: Facebook considering its own bitcoin for payments
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook plans a cryptocurrency-based payment system that it could launch for billions of users worldwide.
The system would use a digital coin similar to bitcoin, but different in that Facebook would aim to keep the coin’s value stable. Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies have been susceptible to wild fluctuations in value.
It could reportedly undermine credit cards by sidestepping the processing fees that generate much of their revenue.
The Journal report cited unidentified people familiar with the matter. It said Facebook is recruiting dozens of financial firms and online merchants to launch the network. Facebook’s plans may include ways to financially reward users who interact with ads or other features.
Facebook says only that it is exploring many different applications for cryptocurrency technology.
NEW ORLEANS NEWSPAPERS
Louisiana’s The Advocate purchasing The Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ending a nearly seven-year New Orleans newspaper rivalry, the owners of The Advocate newspaper announced Thursday they have purchased The Times-Picayune from the Newhouse family’s Advance Local Media.
The owners plan to publish a daily, home-delivered product incorporating brands and features from both publications.
Dathel and John Georges announced their purchase on The Advocate’s website.
The new paper will debut in June. The two papers’ websites will be merged at “around the same time,” The Advocate reported .
The husband and wife bought The Advocate in late April 2013, nearly a year after Advance Publications Inc. announced The Times-Picayune would cut back publication to three days a week, lay off 200 employees and shift focus to its website, Nola.com.
Foxconn CEO meets with Trump, Wisconsin governor
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group leader Terry Gou has met privately with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for the first time, a day after Gou recommitted to a massive project in the state following a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
Questions about Foxconn’s commitment to the Wisconsin project have swirled for months, but Gou and the project’s backers tried to put those to rest.
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics company whose customers include Apple, Amazon and Google, plans to build a display screen factory in southeast Wisconsin. Foxconn reached the deal with former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Evers was critical of the taxpayer credits promised to the company during his successful campaign against Walker last year.
Evers said Thursday he hoped the project would be successful.
Supreme Court: Tennessee Valley Authority can be sued
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Tennessee Valley Authority can be sued over its commercial activity. But it left a lower court to decide whether the case of an Alabama man injured by a power line can proceed.
The Monday decision comes in the case of Gary Thacker, who was boating in the Tennessee River in 2013 when he struck a low-hanging wire being worked on by TVA crews. Thacker was injured and a passenger killed.
Thacker sued TVA for negligence. Lower courts ruled the utility has immunity from such lawsuits because it is a government agency.
The high court unanimously decided TVA can be sued when it performs the same functions as private companies. Under certain circumstances, TVA may have immunity when acting more like a government agency.