Update on the latest business


Stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising again on Wall Street as optimism builds that China and the U.S. are making progress on resolving their trade dispute.

Indexes were broadly higher at midday Wednesday, putting the market on track for its fourth consecutive gain. Technology and energy companies rose. Apple added 2.1 percent and Chevron climbed 1.5 percent.


The price of oil climbed again, rising above $50 a barrel for the first time since mid-December. The gains partly reflect growing confidence in the economy.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.74 percent.


Toyota recalls 1.3M vehicles in the US to fix air bags

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is recalling 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially deadly Takata front passenger air bag inflators.

The move announced Wednesday is part of the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history. Takata inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 23 people have been killed worldwide and hundreds have been injured.

The recall includes multiple Toyota, Scion and Lexus vehicles from the 2010 through 2017 model years.

Dealers will either replace the inflator or the air bag assembly. Owners will be notified by mail or other means in late January.

Toyota’s recall is part of a phased-in replacement of Takata inflators. Automakers are scheduled to replace 10 million more starting this month.


Boeing tops Europe’s Airbus in airliner deliveries

UNDATED (AP) — Boeing is keeping its title as the world’s leading maker of airliners, a nose ahead of Airbus.

Europe-based Airbus, which assembles some planes in the U.S., said Wednesday it delivered 800 commercial aircraft in 2018.

That’s six less than Boeing’s record year, announced earlier this week. The Chicago company has major manufacturing sites in Washington state and South Carolina.

Both companies are riding strong demand from airlines reporting strong travel demand.

Boeing says it received a net of 893 new orders last year, and Airbus got 747 orders.

A Cowen analyst says Boeing deliveries were “a tad light” but deliveries of its new 737 MAX — the plane involved in a deadly October crash in Indonesia — beat expectations.


Airbus deliveries up, sales down after challenging year

PARIS (AP) — Airbus delivered more planes than ever to airlines around the world last year, but orders for new aircraft slumped.

In a statement Wednesday, the company said it handed over 800 planes to customers in 2018. That was up from 718 a year earlier, and just behind the 806 delivered by rival Boeing in 2018.

However, Airbus said it sold 747 aircraft last year, down from 1,109 the year before — and well below the 893 Boeing planes sold in 2018.

Most Airbus deliveries and orders were for single-aisle planes, especially its workhorse A320 family, instead of more lucrative wide-body jets.

The head of Airbus’ commercial division Guillaume Faury acknowledged “significant operational challenges” in 2018, without elaborating.

Airbus went through a management overhaul last year and is facing multiple corruption investigations.


UK lawmakers defeat May on Brexit timetable

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s battle over Brexit turned into political trench warfare between Parliament and the government Wednesday, as Prime Minister Theresa May brought her European Union divorce agreement back to lawmakers who appear determined to thwart her plans.

A month after postponing a vote on the deal to avert near-certain defeat, May urged Parliament to support it to prevent Britain leaving the EU on March 29 with no agreement on exit terms and future relations, an outcome that could cause economic and social upheaval.

May postponed the vote in mid-December when it became clear lawmakers would resoundingly reject the agreement, a compromise deal that has left both pro-European and pro-Brexit politicians unhappy. Rather than warming to May’s deal since then, lawmakers have tried to wrest control of Brexit from the government and put it in the hands of Parliament.

Lawmakers are due to vote on May’s deal on Tuesday, and look likely to reject it.

An alliance of governing Conservative and opposition legislators has dealt May two defeats in as many days. On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted to prevent the government delaying key decisions as Brexit approaches. Lawmakers approved a motion saying that if Parliament rejects May’s divorce deal, the government must come up with a “Plan B” within three working days. Lawmakers would have the power to amend that plan.


Workers at GM’s Canada plant hold work stoppage over closure

OSHAWA, Ontario (AP) — Unionized workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, are holding another sit-down protest over the planned closure of the facility that would lead to the loss of 3,000 jobs.

The union confirmed Wednesday’s work stoppage following an earlier protest Tuesday.

Unifor president Jerry Dias sat down with GM on Tuesday to talk about proposals the union had made to extend the life of the Ontario plant, but were turned down.

The union suggestions included extending the life of the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS produced at the plant or shifting production slated for Mexico to the plant. GM says they’re not economically viable.

GM announced in November it would cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure.


TransCanada to change name to TC Energy

NEW YORK (AP) — TransCanada Corp., the company behind the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline, is changing its name to TC Energy.

If approved by shareholders and regulators, TransCanada becomes TC Energy in the second quarter. The stock ticker “TRP” will not change.

The Keystone XL project is being delayed by a federal court that found the Trump Administration didn’t fully consider the environmental effects when it approved the permit for the 1,184-mile (1,900 kilometer) pipeline, intended to ship up to 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The project has been marred by protests. Environmentalists and Native American groups had sued to stop the pipeline, citing property rights and possible spills

A hearing on the proposed pipeline is scheduled for Monday in Great Falls, Montana.


Herbalife chief resigns over comments made before taking job

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shares of Herbalife are down more than 2 percent after the resignation of CEO Richard Goudis over comments he made before he became the company’s top executive.

The company did not release any details about the exact comment, but said late Tuesday that they were unrelated to Herbalife’s financial reporting. The Los Angeles company said the comments are contrary to its expense-related policies and business practices, inconsistent with its standards, and don’t reflect its culture.

The company did not respond immediately early Wednesday when asked for more details.

Goudis, who became CEO in 2017, will be replaced on an interim basis by former CEO Michael Johnson, Herbalife’s executive chairman.

Herbalife Nutrition Ltd.is looking among its own senior executives for a permanent replacement.


Muslim group sues to block ‘No Boycott of Israel’ measure

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A Muslim civil rights group is suing to block the state of Maryland from enforcing an executive order barring state agencies from contracting with businesses that boycott Israel.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sued Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on Wednesday on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state lawmaker.

The October 2017 executive order requires contractors to certify that they don’t boycott Israel. Ali’s federal lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that “contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.”

CAIR says 26 states have enacted measures similar to Maryland’s. CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas says other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.


Abu Dhabi fund, NY developer seek to sell Chrysler Building

NEW YORK (AP) — The owners of New York City’s Chrysler Building are putting the iconic Art Deco skyscraper on the market.

The building’s owners have hired commercial real estate firm CBRE Group Inc. to market the Manhattan office tower that once served as the headquarters of the Chrysler Corp.

The Chrysler Building was purchased by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council and New York developer Tishman Speyer in 2008. CBRE director of global communications Aaron Richardson confirmed on Wednesday that the owners are seeking to sell it.

The 77-story skyscraper was built between 1928 and 1930 and was the world’s tallest building until the Empire State Building claimed the title in 1931.

The owners’ plan to sell the Chrysler Building was first reported in The Wall Street Journal.


Remember virtual reality? Its buzz has faded at CES 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Just a few years ago, virtual reality was poised to take over the world.

After decades of near misses, the revolution finally seemed imminent, with slick consumer headsets about to hit the market. Industries from gaming and entertainment to social media stood ready to hop on the bandwagon.

But the buzz over VR has faded to a whisper. At the CES 2019 tech show in Las Vegas, there are few glitzy VR press events.

These days, VR is mostly a niche product for gaming and business training, held back by expensive, clunky headsets, a paucity of interesting software and other technological shortcomings.

In particular, venture-capital funding for VR software development has plummeted, falling almost 60 percent in 2018 by one estimate.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announces divorce on Twitter

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says he and his wife, MacKenzie, have decided to divorce after 25 years of marriage.

Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday.

The two married in 1993 after they met at hedge fund D.E. Shaw in New York, where they both worked. They left New York on a road trip to Amazon’s eventual headquarters in Seattle, with her driving and him writing up the business plan for what would become the world’s largest online retailers. They have four children together.

A note posted on Bezos’ Twitter account says the two of them will remain friends and partners.

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