Business Highlights

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Not very merry: US stocks plunge before Christmas

President Donald Trump’s attack on the Federal Reserve spooked financial markets on Christmas Eve, raising fears about an uncertain future should the White House try to undermine or remove the head of the U.S. central bank. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calls to the top executives at six major banks Sunday in an attempt to stabilize jittery markets had the opposite effect. The major indexes on Wall Street fell another 2 percent Monday, making it very possible that the market will end this month as the worst December for stocks since 1931.

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Trump assails Fed as the ‘only problem our economy has’

President Donald Trump lashed out at the Federal Reserve on Monday after administration officials spent the weekend trying to assure the public and financial markets that Jerome Powell’s job as Fed chairman was safe.

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Will stocks rise in 2019? Maybe, but it’ll be stressful

NEW YORK (AP) — No matter which way the stock market goes in 2019 — and Wall Street has ample arguments for either direction — expect it to be another gut-wrenching ride. The market is facing a long list of challenges this upcoming year, from expectations for slower economic growth to rising interest rates to the global trade war. All those risks have market strategists along Wall Street forecasting another turbulent year for stocks.

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White House: Trump would accept less money for border wall

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials warn the partial shutdown could stretch into the new year, and President Donald Trump continued to blame Democrats. “Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence. It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it. Desperately needed!” U.S. arrests on the Mexican border jumped 78 percent in November from a year earlier.

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Did 2018 usher in a creeping tech dystopia?

We may remember 2018 as the year technology’s dystopian potential became clear. That ranges from Facebook’s role in enabling the harvesting of our personal data for election interference to all the revelations about the dark side of Silicon Valley’s connect-everything ethos. More awaits us in 2019, but there are also countermeasures afoot in Congress and state government.

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‘Fix-it’ man Shanahan working to streamline defense spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — Patrick Shanahan may not be President Donald Trump’s permanent replacement as defense secretary. His biography on the Pentagon’s website does not list military experience for the longtime Boeing executive. But he does have a reputation as a “fix-it” man, and he’s already been working on streamlining Pentagon purchasing. That’s something the president wants to work on in the new year, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

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Treasury Secretary talks to bank CEOs amid Wall St. jitters

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the CEOs of six major banks Sunday in an apparent attempt to reassure jittery financial markets coming off a turbulent week in the stock market that is now bracing for potential repercussions from a partial shutdown of the U.S. government. In an unusual move, Mnuchin disclosed the calls with the heads of Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo in a tweet about the private conversations.

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Walmart heirs promote charter schools among black community

Amid fierce debate over whether charter schools are good for black students, the heirs to the Walmart company fortune have been working to make inroads with influential leaders in the black community. The Walton Family Foundation is one of the leading supporters of America’s charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately operated. An Associated Press analysis shows the Waltons are spreading financial support to prominent and like-minded black national and community groups.

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Profiting off presidency? Trump biz takes hit since election

NEW YORK (AP) — Prices for Trump condos are falling. Losses at his Scottish resorts are mounting. A rollout of two new hotel chains has stalled. Two years since the election, there are many signs Trump’s presidency has hurt his business more than helped it.

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The S&P 500 index slid 65.52 points, or 2.7 percent, to 2,351.10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 653.17 points, or 2.9 percent, to 21,792.20. The Nasdaq skidded 140.08 points, or 2.2 percent, to 6,192.92.

Benchmark U.S. crude plunged 6.7 percent to $42.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 6.2 percent to $50.47 a barrel in London.  Wholesale gasoline dropped 5.3 percent to $1.25 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4.1 percent to $1.66 a gallon. Natural gas lost 9.1 percent to $3.47 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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