Asian shares advance following strong Wall Street finish
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares rose in Asia on Thursday after a strong overnight finish on Wall Street. Traders were encouraged by a Wall Street Journal report saying the Chinese government might make changes to its “Made in China 2025” economic development plan.
U.S. stocks failed to hang onto big gains still finished broadly higher as technology and health care companies rose. Stocks initially rallied after the Wall Street Journal reported that China’s government could make changes to its “Made in China 2025” economic development plan — a step that might ease friction between the world’s two largest economies. The S&P 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 2,651.07. The Dow gained 0.6 percent to 24,527.27. The Nasdaq composite jumped 0.9 percent to 7,098.31. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.1 percent to 1,455.32.
British Prime Minister Theresa May won a no-confidence vote that had threatened to end her tenure. Lawmakers within May’s Conservative Party have expressed frustration over her negotiations of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose but remained below $51.50 per barrel.
The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic reports scheduled for today.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates today.
Also, the Treasury Department releases November’s federal budget.
Canada says entrepreneur feared detained in China
TORONTO (AP) — A second Canadian man is feared detained in China in what appears to be retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top executive of telecommunications giant Huawei. The possible arrest raises the stakes in an international dispute that threatens relations.
Canada’s Global Affairs department on Wednesday said Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who is one of the only Westerners to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had gone missing in China. Spavor’s disappearance follows China’s detention of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing earlier this week.
Spavor is a fluent Korean speaker with longstanding ties to the North through his company, Paektu Cultural Exchange. He was instrumental in bringing NBA player Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang in 2013 and has organized a number of tours and joint cultural projects with the North since then. His disappearance sparked immediate concern in the circle of people who travel to North Korea. Acquaintances said he was due in Seoul on Monday, but never showed up.
Canada’s announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was worried another citizen had been detained in China following Monday’s arrest of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing.
At the root of the dispute is Canada’s recent arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, for possible extradition to the United States.
A Canadian court on Tuesday released Meng on bail, confining her to Vancouver and its suburbs while she awaits possible extradition. The U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to do business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
Virgin Galactic aims to reach space soon with tourism rocket
MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is gearing up to finally send its tourism rocket ship to the edge of space.
If successful, it would be a major step toward the long-delayed dream of commercial space tourism.
The next test flight could come as early as Thursday with two pilots taking Virgin Space Ship Unity high above California’s Mojave Desert.
CEO George Whitesides said Wednesday they will try to exceed an altitude of 50 miles (80.4 kilometers), which Virgin Galactic considers the boundary of space. Whiteside said that’s the standard used by the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. agencies.
That differs from a long-held view that places the boundary at 62 miles (99.8 kilometers.) But Whiteside cited new research that favors the lower altitude and said that as a U.S. company it will use the U.S. standard.
Reaching the threshold of space would demonstrate significant progress toward the start of commercial flights that were promised more than a decade ago. Virgin Galactic’s development of its spaceship took far longer than expected and endured a setback when the first experimental craft broke apart during a 2014 test flight, killing the co-pilot.
House passes farm bill, sending it to Trump’s desk
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has easily passed the farm bill, a massive legislative package that reauthorizes agriculture programs and food aid.
The legislation has already passed the Senate and is now headed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
The measure is the result of months of negotiations by lawmakers. It does not make any significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans. Trump and conservatives had pushed to create new work requirements for food stamps, but the Senate rejected the idea.
The bill reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs, funds trade programs, expands support for struggling dairy farmers and legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp. The House vote was 369-47.
US suspects China in Marriott data breach
WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigators believe hackers working on behalf of China’s main intelligence agency are responsible for a massive data breach involving the theft of personal information from as many as 500 million guests of the Marriott hotel chain.
That’s according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation, who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The official says investigators suspect the hackers were working on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, based on. The official says investigators are particularly concerned about the breach in part because Marriott is frequently used by military and government officials.
The hack included the theft of credit card and passport numbers over four years from guests who stayed at hotels previously operated by Starwood.
Arrest of Nissan star Ghosn raises speculation over coup
TOKYO (AP) — The surprise arrest of Nissan’s former chairman on charges of falsifying financial reports is providing a window into possible corporate intrigue at the Japanese automaker.
Japanese media and some analysts have raised the possibility that the charges against Carlos Ghosn were engineered to sideline him and give Nissan an excuse to end a lopsided alliance with French automaker Renault SA.
Renault dispatched Ghosn to Nissan in 1999 to help rescue Nissan Motor Co. It owns 43 percent of Nissan while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault with no voting rights. Now, Nissan is more profitable than Renault. Talk of a merger between the two companies was raising resistance in Japan.
Ghosn and an American executive, Greg Kelly, were arrested on Nov. 19 on suspicion of falsifying financial reports.
United CEO: No more pilot training needed on new Boeing jet
DALLAS (AP) — The CEO of United Airlines says his pilots don’t need any additional training on the new Boeing jet that is at the center of the investigation into a deadly crash in Indonesia. Oscar Munoz says United’s pilots are prepared to respond to problems that might arise with automated systems on modern planes.
Munoz spoke to reporters Wednesday and said the Boeing 737 MAX is safe and reliable.
United — along with American and Southwest — uses the new Boeing model that was involved in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash.
Indonesian investigators are examining the role of faulty sensor readings from an anti-stall system in the accident, which killed 189 people.
Media firm that aided Trump won’t be prosecuted
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. attorney’s office in New York says it won’t prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent company over its efforts to suppress an embarrassing story about Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The agreement was announced Wednesday shortly after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.
Cohen’s crimes included working with American Media Inc. to buy the silence of a model who says she had an affair with Trump. The president denies the affair.
Like Cohen, the tabloid publisher admitted it was trying to influence the election by protecting Trump from a damaging story.
As part of the deal, AMI acknowledged it made a $150,000 payment to the model “in concert” with the Trump campaign with the intent of influencing the election.
It requires AMI to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any investigation.
5 charged with running massive movie piracy ring
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles federal grand jury has indicted five men who allegedly ran an international piracy ring that offered hundreds of stolen movies and TV shows online, including “Fifty Shades of Grey,” ”Godzilla” and “The Walking Dead.”
Wednesday’s indictment alleges the men hacked computer systems used by Hollywood film production companies to steal digital files; recorded movie theater screenings and obtained copies of movies sent to industry professionals.
The ring allegedly had a server in France that contained 25,000 files including stolen movies, trailers, TV episodes and audio tracks.
The men are charged with conspiracy, computer hacking, ID theft and copyright infringement. They live in the United Kingdom, India, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. None are in U.S. custody but the UK resident awaits trial on similar charges there.