Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks fall as China reacts to US tariffs

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian shares fell today as China delayed issuing licenses to American businesses hoping to operate in the country amid the looming threat of more trade tariffs from Washington.

The approach of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast and upcoming sanctions on Iran’s energy industry lifted oil prices. Benchmark U.S crude surged past $70 a barrel in the morning before easing.

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Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.4 percent today, and the Kospi in South Korea fell 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was almost flat. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed less than 0.1 percent.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock indexes finished higher Tuesday as big technology companies like Apple and Amazon rose for a second day after declining last week. The broad S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,887.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 percent to 25,971.06, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.6 percent higher at 7,972.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 0.1 percent to 1,718.40.

FLORENCE-COMPANY IMPACT

To prep for Hurricane Florence, investors sell off insurers

NEW YORK (AP) — Hurricanes almost always set off an orchestrated dance on Wall Street before they make landfall, with shares of property and casualty insurance companies dumped in favor of companies that sell construction supplies or portable generators.

That routine began a week ago, though Hurricane Florence appears to be turning up the volume this time.

The last time a hurricane of this size struck the middle of the East Coast, Texas Instruments had just introduced the first transistor radio. Since then, the region has been developed heavily and the potential damages may be exponentially higher.

Karen Clark & Co., which produces models for catastrophes, said that if 1989’s Hurricane Hugo had hit South Carolina in 2012, just 23 years later, insurance losses would have more than doubled to $10 billion when development and inflation are factored in.

CHINA-US-TARIFF FIGHT

China puts off licenses for US companies amid tariff battle

BEIJING (AP) — Amid a worsening tariff battle, China is putting off accepting license applications from American companies in financial services and other industries until Washington makes progress toward a settlement, a business group says.

The disclosure Tuesday is the first public confirmation of U.S. companies’ fears that their operations in China or access to its markets might be disrupted by the battle over Beijing’s technology policy. China is running out of American imports for penalties in response to President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes, which has prompted worries regulators might target operations of U.S. companies.

The license delay applies to industries Beijing has promised to open to foreign competitors, according to Jacob Parker, vice president for China operations of the U.S.-China Business Council. The group represents some 200 American companies that do business with China.

TRADE-US-CANADA

Canadian trade negotiators to brief PM Trudeau in person

WASHINGTON (AP) — Canadian negotiators are traveling to brief Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in person on the state of negotiations with the United States on a deal that would allow Canada to remain in a North American trade bloc.

Canada’s envoy — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — left a meeting with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer Tuesday night. She said the talks were at a point where discussing them face-to-face with the prime minister “is absolutely essential.”

Trudeau and his ministers will hold a caucus retreat in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to plot their strategy.

The U.S. and Mexico last month reached a preliminary agreement to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. But those talks excluded Canada, the third NAFTA country.

VIETNAM-ASEAN

Asian leaders fault US, say open trade best growth option

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A top Chinese official and leaders of several Southeast Asian countries have taken aim at U.S. moves to protect American businesses, saying opening markets further is the only option for future growth.

Speaking today at a World Economic Forum meeting in Hanoi, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said China would work with its neighbors to counter protectionism.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo drew laughs by likening trade wars to “infinity wars” in a reference to this year’s movie based on Marvel’s comics. Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said the Southeast Asian region would work to keep markets and investment open and protect the “rules based” trading system.

Widodo did not mention President Donald Trump by name. But he drew hearty laughs when he mentioned the “Infinity War” villain, Thanos.

APPLE-SHOWCASE

Apple expected to unveil bigger, pricier iPhone on Wednesday

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is expected to unveil its biggest and most expensive iPhone on Wednesday as part of a lineup of three new models aimed at widening the product’s appeal amid slowing sales growth.

Most of the buzz is swirling around a rumored iPhone that is supposed to boast a 6.5-inch OLED screen, up from 5.8 inches on the existing iPhone X. OLED is a step up from traditional LCD technology in offering a display without a backlight, so black is truly black rather than simply dark.

The iPhone X, a dramatically redesigned model released last fall, got rid of the home button and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device. It was the first mass-market smartphone to demand a $1,000 starting price.

LAS VEGAS-SHOOTING-LAWSUITS

MGM offers deal to shooting victims it’s suing

LAS VEGAS (AP) — MGM Resorts International is drawing sharp criticism for saying hundreds of survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting, who are being sued by the casino operator, could opt to have the money that will be used to serve them a lawsuit instead donated to a charity.

Attorney Robert Eglet, part of a group representing most of the victims, said the company is just trying to “spin” its attempt to save money on serving legal notices.

The company in July sued more than 1,900 victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at one of its properties and has been working to notify them as it faces a standard 90-day deadline.

MGM told the victims’ attorneys it would rather make the donations to charities than spend the money to pay people to serve the legal notices. The shooting left 58 dead and hundreds injured.

HANDGUN-AD BAN

US judge strikes down California ban on handgun ads

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. judge has struck down a nearly century-old California law that banned gun shops from advertising handguns on their premises.

Judge Troy Nunley in Sacramento ruled Tuesday that the law violated the First Amendment. Nunley said the state failed to show that enforcing the law would prevent violence or suicides.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2014 by several gun dealers who were fined by the state for handgun ads. The 1923 law banned any handgun ads at gun shops that were visible from outside the store. Nunley noted that gun shops could put up a 15-foot display of a sporting rifle or place ads for handguns elsewhere such as on a billboard blocks away.

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