Asian stocks rise on possible US-China talks amid tensions
SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher today after a report that the U.S. proposed a new round of trade negotiations with China quelled fears that a dispute between the world’s two largest economies was spiraling out of control.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.9 percent and the Kospi in South Korea rose 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.6 percent. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8 percent. Stocks were higher in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.
U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday as technology companies fell, cancelling out gains in the energy sector. The S&P 500 index was less than 0.1 higher at 2,888.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1 percent to 25,998.92. The losses for technology companies weighed on the Nasdaq composite, which slid 0.2 percent to 7,954.23. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 0.2 percent to 1,715.70.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic reports scheduled for today:
WASHINGTON AP) —The Labor Department releases the Consumer Price Index for August today.
And Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates.
Also, the Treasury Department releases federal budget for August.
FEDERAL RESERVE-BEIGE BOOK
Fed survey finds concerns about rising trade tensions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s latest survey of business conditions nationwide found rising concerns over the impact Trump administration trade policies could have on the economy.
The Fed’s 12 regional banks said the economy is growing at a moderate pace although three districts — Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City — depicted activity as somewhat below average.
While businesses remained optimistic about near-term prospects, the Fed found worries about trade had prompted some businesses to scale back or postpone their capital investment plans. Higher tariffs stemming from President Donald Trump’s get-tough trade policies were reported to be pushing up input costs for some manufactured goods.
The Fed’s survey, known as the beige book, will be used when central bank officials meet later this month to decide whether to raise interest rates again.
Survey: US companies in China hurt by tariff war
BEIJING (AP) — Two American business groups have released a survey that found almost two-thirds of U.S. companies in China have been hurt by the tariff war between Beijing and Washington and others say they will suffer if the two sides go ahead with more penalties.
The American Chambers of Commerce in China and in Shanghai appealed today to both governments to avoid further damage by resuming negotiations aimed at settling the dispute over Beijing’s technology policy.
The chambers said 63.6 percent of more than 430 companies that responded to the survey said costs have risen and customer demand has fallen. Almost three-quarters said they would be hurt if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to raise duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods and Beijing retaliates.
Federal regulators OK removal of strict oversight over Zions
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of federal regulators has lifted the strict government oversight it had imposed on Zions, a big regional bank.
The Financial Stability Oversight Council announced Wednesday it had decided to grant the request by Zions allowing it to escape the more strict oversight upon completion of its proposed merger with its parent company, Salt Lake City-based Zions Bancorporation.
The action, which had been approved on a preliminary basis in July, is the latest move under the Trump administration to relieve regulatory restrictions put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement he was pleased the council had determined that “there is not a significant risk that Zions could pose a threat to U.S. financial stability.” The council approved the action unanimously.
US ‘likely’ has taken over as the world’s top oil producer
UNDATED (AP) — The United States may have reclaimed the title of the world’s biggest oil sooner than expected.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that America “likely surpassed” Russia in June and August after jumping over Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
The agency says, however, that’s based on preliminary estimates.
If those estimates are right, it would mark the first time in more than two decades that the U.S. has led in output.
U.S. production has soared in recent years because of techniques including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the use of chemicals, sand, water and high pressure to crack rock formations deep below ground, releasing more oil and natural gas.
Fracking is driving a drilling boom in the Permian Basin under Texas and New Mexico.
Head of Verizon’s AOL, Yahoo to depart
NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon is replacing its media and advertising chief Tim Armstrong.
Oath President and COO K. Guru Gowrappan will assume the Oath CEO role Oct. 1. Armstrong will stay through year-end as a strategic adviser.
Gowrappan joined Verizon in April and before that was global managing director of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba.
Amstrong was tasked with growing Verizon’s ad business in a challenge to Facebook and Google, but that business remains one of Verizon’s less profitable divisions. Armstrong came to Verizon when it bought AOL in 2015 and began overseeing Yahoo when Verizon bought it in 2017.
Armstrong was one of Google’s early employees and was key to developing its digital ad business before joining AOL in 2009. Telecoms have been buying content makers to diversify as the wireless industry slows.
New Mexico sues mobile app makers over privacy concerns
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is suing Google, Twitter and several companies that develop and market mobile gaming apps for children, saying the apps violate state law by collecting personal information that could compromise privacy.
The lawsuit filed in federal court late Tuesday comes as data-sharing concerns persist among users and as social media giant Facebook just weeks ago pulled one of its own apps over possible privacy intrusions.
Google recently acknowledged that it tracks users who disable location history after an Associated Press investigation revealed that several Google apps and websites store user location even if users have turned off location history.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he’s concerned about the risk of a data breach and exploitation given that the apps can track with such precision where children live, play and go to school.
Musk apologizes for snags in Model 3 delivery information
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla apparently is having trouble informing customers about deliveries of the Model 3 mass-market electric car.
In a Twitter response to a customer Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk wrote that some “may experience longer response times” because of a large increase in vehicle deliveries in North America. He wrote that resolving the issue is Tesla’s top priority.
Earlier in the day, the customer tweeted to Musk that he couldn’t get a vehicle identification number from his sales adviser even though he is scheduled to pick up his Model 3 on Monday. The customer wrote that it was frustrating and his loan for the car is up in the air.
Musk apologized and wrote that he’s working on the issue. Tesla spokesmen did not immediately comment.
A mayor in Louisiana rescinds a city’s ban on Nike products
KENNER, La. (AP) — The mayor of a New Orleans suburb says he’s rescinding his order banning his city’s recreation department from purchasing Nike products for use at city recreation facilities.
Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn said at a news conference Wednesday that he did so on the advice of the city attorney and because the order had divided the city. Last week’s order from Zahn came days after the athletic apparel maker began using former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign. Kaepernick ignited a firestorm in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.
Zahn’s order had drawn strong criticism in and outside the city. Louisiana’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had called for him to rescind it earlier Wednesday.
Notorious Russian cybercriminal pleads guilty to US charges
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian man considered to be one of the world’s most notorious hackers has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges alleging he operated a network of devices used to steal computer credentials, distribute spam emails and install malicious software.
The Justice Department says Peter Levashov pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut.
Levashov was arrested in April 2017 while vacationing in Spain. His arrest was one of a series in the last few years targeting Russian cybercriminals outside their homeland, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.
Federal officials have said Levashov was linked to a series of powerful botnets — networks of hijacked computers — to harvest email addresses, usernames and passwords.
Prosecutors say he also distributed bulk spam emails, malware and other malicious software.
Bank of England set to hold rates amid Brexit uncertainty
LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England is set to keep interest rates on hold today and will likely indicate that they won’t be raised again until the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has been resolved.
The bank, which last month lifted its benchmark rate by a quarter point to 0.75 percent to dampen down inflation, has been assuming that the country’s exit from the European Union in March next year will be smooth.
However, the bank’s governor, Mark Carney, has warned that the risks of a no-deal have increased. He agreed this week to extend his time at the helm of the central bank by an extra seven months to January 2020 to help ensure a smooth Brexit.
Given the uncertainty, analysts think the bank’s rate-setters will opt for caution in the coming months.
European Central Bank to take next step in tapering stimulus
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank is expected to ratchet back its stimulus efforts again today as it gingerly phases out extraordinary support for the economy left over from the Great Recession and the euro currency union’s debt crisis.
The bank’s 25-member governing council is expected to cut its monthly bond-purchase stimulus to 15 billion euros ($17.4 billion) a month from 30 billion a month, on the way to ending the purchases at the end of the year.
The ECB is due to announce that step in a statement, after President Mario Draghi and other top officials pre-announced the bank’s upcoming moves at their last meeting on June 14. The ECB is also expected to underline its intention to not raise its interest rates until at least the middle of 2019.
APPLE WATCH-GOING MEDICAL
The Apple Watch is inching toward becoming a medical device
CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple is slowly evolving its smartwatch into a medical device.
The latest version of the Apple Watch will add features that allow it to take high-quality heart readings and detect falls. It’s part of Apple’s long-term strategy to give people a distinct reason to buy a wrist gadget that largely does things smartphones already do.
Since the Apple Watch launched in April 2015, most people haven’t figured that they need one. Apple doesn’t release sales figures, but estimates from two analysts suggest the company shipped roughly 18 million of the gadgets in 2017. Apple sold almost twelve times as many iPhones — 216 million — that year.
The latest model can take electrocardiograms, or EKGs, which test for irregular heartbeats that usually require a doctor visit.