Update on the latest in business:


Asian shares advance on fresh optimism over US-China trade

BANGKOK (AP) — Stocks were broadly higher in Asia today as investors stepped up buying on hopes for an easing of tensions in the costly trade war between the U.S.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.1% while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.6%. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 added 0.2%. Markets in Shanghai, Taiwan and South Korea were closed for holidays. India’s Sensex was flat. Shares also rose in Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta but fell in Malaysia.


Thursday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 index rose 0.3% to 3,009.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its winning streak to a seventh straight day, gaining 0.2% to 27,182.45.

The Nasdaq added 0.3% to 8,194.47, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up an early gain, sliding 0.65 point to 1,575.07.


US, China exchange goodwill gesture ahead of trade talks

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States and China are trading conciliatory gestures. The moves are raising hopes they can deescalate a standoff over trade that has shaken financial markets and cast gloom over the global economy. In Beijing, China’s Commerce Ministry said Chinese importers are asking U.S. suppliers for prices of soybeans, pork and other farm goods. It’s a sign then might step up purchases of American agricultural products.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters said mid-level U.S. and Chinese negotiators will meet next week or the week after. Then a high-level Chinese delegation is likely to travel to Washington to meet with Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

By delaying his tariff hike, President Donald Trump allowed for the possibility they might make enough progress to avert the increase indefinitely. However, economists say a final agreement is unlikely this year.


Chaotic talks show challenge of reaching opioid settlement

UNDATED (AP) _ The failure of state attorneys general and the maker of OxyContin to reach a settlement in the opioid crisis means the legal battle over what the company must pay will probably shift to bankruptcy court.

Drug company Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family that owns Purdue have promised $10 billion to $12 billion. Many attorneys general want the Sacklers to pay more of their vast fortune, much of which has been shifted overseas.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says that Purdue and the Sackler family “will never be able to undo all the damage they have done.” Herring says, “but at the very least, they must face real, significant, personal accountability for their lies and for the pain and heartbreak they have caused.”


Judgment day for Huffman, facing possible prison for scam

BOSTON (AP) — Actress Felicity Huffman is returning to court to be sentenced for her role in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal.

The “Desperate Housewives” star is scheduled to appear in Boston’s federal court today after pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy and fraud in May.

She has admitted to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT exam answers in 2017.

Prosecutors are recommending a month in prison and a $20,000 fine. Huffman’s lawyers say she should get a year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.

Huffman says she has “a deep and abiding shame” for her actions but was only trying to be a good parent. She’s the first parent to be sentenced among 34 charged in the scheme.


Massive transport strike paralyzes Paris over pension reform

PARIS (AP) — A massive strike is paralyzing Paris public transports today as unions protest a sweeping pension reform by French President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

Paris public transport company RATP says 10 metro lines are closed and several others, including the RER suburban rail, are severely disrupted. On platforms, messages in French and English were warning passengers of the strike, the biggest since 2007.

Trains that were still circulating were noticeably less crowded than usual, as authorities recommended people living in the Paris region to work from home or choose other means of transport.

The government website monitoring roads showed major traffic jams in and around the French capital.

RATP employees are protesting a pension reform planned for next year that is expected to make them work longer before retirement.


Protesters cause part of Houston Ship Channel to close

HOUSTON (AP) — Eleven protesters have been arrested after they rappelled from a busy highway bridge over the Houston Ship Channel, closing the vital artery for hours.

The Coast Guard says the closure came after the protesters were spotted Thursday afternoon dangling from the Fred Hartman Bridge near Baytown, Texas.

The demonstrators were Greenpeace USA activists protesting the use of fossil fuels. They suspended themselves from a bridge ahead of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston.

Firefighters rappelled to the protesters Thursday evening and lowered them to boats below. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says 12 activists serving as spotters on the bridge also were arrested.

The Port of Houston, located along the ship channel, is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.

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