Asian shares mostly lower after sluggish Wall Street session
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower today following a sluggish post-Thanksgiving trading session on Wall Street.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 1 point to 2,601.42. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.1 percent to 23,580.78, while the Nasdaq composite fell 0.2 percent to 6,878.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 0.4 percent to 1,513.31. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reports that Pyongyang may be readying another missile launch also weighed on investor sentiments in the region. The Kyodo news service and other Japanese media reported, citing unnamed government sources, that Japan was on alert after catching radio signals suggesting North Korea might be preparing for a ballistic missile launch. Japan’s government spokesman said the country is on alert but would not comment on the reports.
Investors also will have their eye on departing U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks before Congress and a possible vote in the Senate on its version of a U.S. tax overhaul bill.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $58 a barrel.
The dollar gained against the yen and weakened against the euro.
THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic events scheduled for Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In today’s economic reports, Standard & Poor’s will release its S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for September.
The Conference Board will issue the Consumer Confidence Index for November.
Tax hikes proposed if revenue falls short
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans are considering a trigger that would automatically increase taxes if their sweeping legislation fails to generate as much revenue as they expect. It’s an effort to mollify deficit hawks who worry that tax cuts for businesses and individuals will add to the nation’s already mounting debt.
The effort comes as a second Republican senator, Steve Daines of Montana, announced that he opposes the tax bill in its current form. Previously, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he opposed the bill, leaving Senate Republicans no room for error as they hope to vote on the bill this week.
Both senators complained that the tax bill favors large corporations over small businesses. Republicans have only two votes to spare in the Senate, where they hold a 52-48 edge and anticipate Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie, if needed.
Powell says he supports further gradual rate hikes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jerome Powell says that if confirmed as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, he expects the central bank to continue raising interest rates gradually to support the Fed’s twin goals of maximum employment and stable prices.
Powell also says that under his leadership, the Fed would consider appropriate ways to ease the regulatory burdens on banks while preserving the core reforms Congress enacted to try to prevent another financial crisis like the one that erupted in 2008.
Powell makes the comments in prepared testimony that he will deliver today at the start of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. Powell, a member of the Fed’s board since 2012, is expected to win confirmation to succeed Janet Yellen, whose term expires in February.
Tech firm: Thanksgiving-Black Friday sales rose 11.9 percent
NEW YORK (AP) — Despite holiday deals all month, shoppers still picked up their spending on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to one technology company.
Spending for Thursday and Friday together increased 11.9 percent compared with the same two-day period last year, says First Data, which analyzed online and in-store payments across different forms of cards from 1.3 million merchants. Retail spending, which excludes grocery stores, restaurants, auto parts merchants and gas stations, rose 9.3 percent.
First Data says the buying was helped by higher consumer confidence, low unemployment and cooler weather. It said hurricane cleanup-related spending may also have had an effect. Texas, pummeled by Hurricane Harvey in August, had the second-highest percentage increase in sales, a rise of 13.4 percent that was fueled by electronics and furniture.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING-CYBER MONDAY
Shoppers take to their phones for Cyber Monday deals
NEW YORK (AP) — Weeks of deals didn’t stop people from heading online to shop on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Cyber Monday is likely to be the biggest U.S. online shopping day ever, according to Adobe Analytics, the research arm of software maker Adobe. Nearly $6.6 billion in sales were forecast by the end of the day, up about 17 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe. And more people are picking up their phones to shop: Web traffic from mobile devices, including tablets, is expected to top desktop computers for the first time this year.
And more people are picking up their phones to shop: Adobe says web traffic from mobile devices, including tablets, is expected to top desktop computers for the first time this year.
Senators demand information on massive Uber data theft
WASHINGTON (AP) — Five U.S. senators want Uber to tell them when it discovered a massive data breach and what it did to respond.
Uber disclosed the year-old hack last week. Taken were names, email addresses and mobile-phone numbers of 57 million riders as well as driver’s license numbers of 600,000 drivers.
Four Republicans led by John Thune of South Dakota want to know when Uber discovered the theft, when it notified regulators and whether Social Security numbers were taken.
Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia wants to know why Uber didn’t have better security.
Both sent letters to the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company Monday. Uber says it will address the Senators’ concerns.
Last week, Uber said it paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the pilfered data. It says there’s no evidence the data was misused.
PAYDAY LENDERS-RACKETEERING CASE
Payday lender found guilty of fraud, racketeering charges
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The head of a multimillion-dollar payday lending enterprise accused of evading state regulations by using Native American tribes and a bank as fronts was convicted on Monday of federal racketeering conspiracy and fraud charges.
Prosecutors say Charles Hallinan charged astronomical interest rates of more than 700 percent on the short-term loans.
Authorities said the “rent-a-tribe” and “rent-a-bank” scheme netted Hallinan’s companies more than $688 million in revenue between 2008 and 2013 from hundreds of thousands of customers.
Hallinan’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday but has said Hallinan acted within the law.
Also convicted on the conspiracy and fraud charges was Hallinan’s company lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, whose defense attorney has said what the pair did fell into “legal lending models.”
Pennsylvania and more than a dozen other states have passed laws that criminalize payday loans, which are named as such because they’re issued in small amounts and meant to be repaid on a customer’s next paycheck.
MASSAGE ENVY-SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Report: Many clients claim sex abuse at Massage Envy spas
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — An investigative news report has found that more than 180 people have filed sexual misconduct complaints against Massage Envy spas, the franchises’ employees and the national company.
The report by BuzzFeed News found that those who complained filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports and other complaints.
The website reports many of those who complained believed their claims were mishandled or ignored by employees, owners of individual Massage Envy spas and by the national company.
Massage Envy issued a statement saying that the complaints documented by BuzzFeed News spanned a period of more than 15 years. It called each account heartbreaking.
Massage Envy general counsel Melanie Hansen told BuzzFeed News that the company holds franchise owners accountable and has created rigorous policies for hiring, screening and training therapists.
FARM LABOR FIGHT
California farm plans to appeal pro-labor ruling
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One of the nation’s largest fruit farms says it plans to appeal a ruling by the California Supreme Court that boosted organized farm labor in the state.
Gerawan Farming says that it intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.
California’s highest court upheld a law that aims to ensure labor contracts for farmworkers whose unions and employers don’t agree on wages and other working conditions.
The ruling came in a lawsuit pitting Gerawan Farming against the United Farm Workers of America, the union that Cesar Chavez helped launch.
Labor activists say the law prevents employers from stalling labor negotiations to avoid a contract that could benefit farmworkers. Opponents call it government overreach that deprives employers and workers of any say over wages and other terms of employment.
World’s biggest battery to be ready this week in Australia
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An official says Tesla Inc. chief executive Eon Musk is on track to deliver on a promise to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in the Australian Outback within 100 days.
Musk promised to build the 100-megawatt battery within 100 days of the contracts being signed at the end of September or hand it over to the South Australia state government for free.
Audrey Zibelman, chief executive of Australian Energy Market Operator Ltd., which manages the Australian electricity grid, says she expects the battery to be ready by Friday.
State Premier Jay Weatherill announced last week that Tesla had finished installing the battery power packs near Jamestown, 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the state capital Adelaide.
Tesla partnered with French renewable energy company Neoen on the battery.
STARBUCKS-ANOTHER HOLIDAY CUP
Starbucks releases another holiday cup. This time, it’s red.
NEW YORK (AP) — If this year’s Starbucks holiday cup wasn’t red enough, the chain is releasing another one this week that’s mostly that color.
The new cup, in stores for a limited time, has a white heart in the middle and an illustration of two hands making a heart shape.
The holiday cup released earlier this month was mostly white, and Starbucks encouraged customers to color in the designs themselves.
Holiday cups have been released since 1997. They regularly draw praise and criticism on social media, once even spurring a boycott call from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Starbucks Corp. says the new cup celebrates “the good in each other.”