Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL-MARKETS

Stocks gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving steadily higher in midday trading on Wall Street, powered by technology and health care companies, as the market pushes for its third straight day of gains.

Microsoft added 1.1 percent and UnitedHealth Group climbed 2.6 percent.

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Rite Aid jumped 3.5 percent after the company announced a management purge, which includes the CEO, and plans to cut 400 jobs.

The Canadian marijuana company Aurora Cannabis surged 8.6 percent after it tapped hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz as an adviser.

Peltz is the CEO and a founding partner of Trian Fund Management. Aurora said he will help the company explore potential partnerships and advise its global expansion plans.

PRODUCER PRICES

US wholesale prices ticked up 0.1 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices barely increased last month after falling for three straight months, a sign there is little inflation pressure in the economy.

The Labor Department says the producer price index — which measures price changes before they reach the consumer — rose 0.1 percent in February. It slipped 0.1 percent in January. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core producer prices also rose 0.1 percent. Wholesale prices increased 1.9 percent from a year earlier, and core prices rose 2.5 percent.

Despite an unemployment rate near a five-decade low and faster wage growth, inflation is tame. The consumer price index, released Tuesday, increased just 1.5 percent in February from a year ago. Mild inflation is a major reason the Federal Reserve has paused its interest rate hikes.

DURABLE GOODS

US durable goods orders up modest 0.4 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods edged up slightly in January, but the strength came from a big increase in the volatile aircraft category. In encouraging news for future growth, a key category that tracks business investment plans posted its biggest gain in six months.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods rose 0.4 percent in January, led by a 15.9 percent rise in orders for commercial aircraft. The category that serves as a proxy for business investment rose 0.8 percent after two months of declines. It was the biggest gain since a 1.5 percent July bump.

The weakness in business investment has puzzled economists who expected to see strength in this area as companies boosted investment spending to take advantage of new tax breaks.

ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH

Canada grounds Boeing 737 Max 8s after Ethiopia crash

HEJERE, Ethiopia (AP) — Canada joined much of the world in barring the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet from its airspace on Wednesday, saying satellite tracking data shows possible but unproven similarities between the Ethiopian Airliner crash that killed 157 people and a previous crash involving the model five months ago. The decision left the U.S. as one of the few remaining countries to allow the planes to keep flying.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said a comparison of vertical fluctuations found a “similar profile” to the Lion Air crash that killed 187 people in October.

Garneau emphasized that the data is not conclusive but crossed a threshold that prompted Canada to bar the Max 8. He said the new information indicated that the Ethiopian Airliner jet’s automatic system kicked in to force the nose of the aircraft down after computer software determined it was too high. He said that in the case of the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, the pilot fought against computer software that wanted to drop the nose of the plane.

Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke with President Donald Trump and reiterated that the 737 Max 8 is safe, the company said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has backed the jet’s airworthiness and said it was reviewing all available data.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY

Lori Loughlin surrenders in admissions scandal

BOSTON (AP) — The FBI says actress Lori Loughlin (LAWK’-lin) has been taken into custody in connection with a scheme in which wealthy parents paid bribes to get their children into top colleges.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says Loughlin is in custody Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. She is scheduled to appear in court there in the afternoon.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither is a rower.

They were among 50 people charged in the scheme.

Loughlin became famous as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the 1980s and ’90s sitcom “Full House.” She has lately become the queen of the Hallmark channel with her holiday movies and the series “When Calls the Heart.”

TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE-MANAFORT

Manafort sentenced to 3.5 years more, faces new charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to an additional three and one-half years of prison, questioning his remorse and rebuking him for his crimes and years of lies. That makes seven and one-half years for Manafort, coming on top of the roughly four-year term he received last week in a separate case in Virginia.

Before sentencing Manafort in Washington, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told him, “It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in the federal conspiracy charges related to his foreign lobbying work and witness tampering.

Adding to his legal woes, Manafort was also charged Wednesday with mortgage fraud, conspiracy and other counts in a new indictment in New York City. The state charges appear at least partly designed to guard against the possibility that he could be pardoned by President Donald Trump and freed early on his federal convictions. The presidential power does not extend to state charges.

E-CIGARETTES-SALES RESTRICTIONS

US health officials move to tighten sales of e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan designed to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online.

The new guidelines, first proposed in November, are the latest government effort to reverse what health officials call an epidemic of underage vaping.

E-cigarettes typically heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor. Federal law bans their sale to those under 18, but 1 in 5 high school students report using e-cigarettes, according to the latest government figures.

Under proposed guidelines released Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarette makers would restrict sales of most flavored products to stores that verify the age of customers or include a separate, age-restricted area of the store for vaping products.

COSMETICS SAFETY

Claire’s recalls makeup after regulators warn of asbestos

NEW YORK (AP) — The retailer Claire’s is recalling three makeup products after U.S. regulators warned they might contain asbestos.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration said product samples tested positive for asbestos but that Claire’s refused to recall any products that might still be in homes. The retailer at the time disputed the test results but said it removed the products from stores.

Now, the company is also recalling the products , which were sold between 2016 and this month. A Claire’s representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Asbestos can get in the lungs and cause cancer, but the greatest risk is to people with frequent, long-term exposure. The FDA said it’s not aware of anyone being sickened by the makeup.

Cosmetics don’t have to be reviewed by the FDA before they’re sold.

FASTER WIRELESS-5G PRICES

Verizon says 5G network will cost extra $10 a month

UNDATED (AP) — A handful of Verizon customers will soon have faster wireless service — but they’ll have to pay $10 a month more.

Verizon says it’ll flip the switch next month on a much-hyped, next-generation “5G” phone network . Service will start in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis.

The offer is available only on unlimited plans, which currently start at $75 for one person without 5G. It requires Motorola’s Moto Z3 phone with a special 5G attachment.

Other 5G-enabled phones, including one from Samsung, will come this year. Verizon would not say how 5G pricing would work with those phones.

T-Mobile has said its 5G plans won’t be more expensive if its proposed takeover of Sprint goes through. Sprint hasn’t announced 5G prices. AT&T did not immediately respond to questions.

SPOTIFY-APPLE

Spotify files antitrust complaint to EU against Apple

LONDON (AP) — Music site Spotify has complained to European Union regulators about Apple for allegedly abusing its dominant position in music streaming and stifling competition.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek said Wednesday that the company has filed a formal complaint with the executive European Commission against Apple.

Writing in a blog post , Ek said Apple is acting “as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers” by bringing in new rules to its App Store that intentionally limit choice and constrain innovation.

The company takes issue with how Apple controls important platforms such as its iOS mobile operating system and the App Store, while also competing against services like Spotify.

Apple’s media team in Britain did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

BREXIT

EU moves on Brexit contingency plans

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European Union has adopted contingency measures in case Britain leaves the bloc as scheduled on March 29 without a withdrawal deal in place, and the procedures would bring changes overnight to both sides of the English Channel.

The EU parliament approved the last of 11 such measures on Wednesday. They cover everything from air, port and road traffic to the status of foreign students. Some would require reciprocal measures in Britain.

Catherine Bearder, who represents southeast England in the European Parliament, used airline passengers as an example of the confusion a no-deal Brexit could create.

Bearder said: “If we’re going to leave at midnight, they need to know: ‘Can the planes take off the next day?’ Whether their pilot’s recognition is valid….That all of these things that actually make an airplane fly have to be recognized.”

Belgian EU legislator Tom Vandenkendelaere described the alternate procedures as “the typical measures you would take in a state of emergency, and that are also only taken for a temporary, for a strict period in time with strict conditions as well.”

GERMANY-VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen to shed up to 7,000 jobs through automation

BERLIN (AP) — German carmaker Volkswagen AG says it expects to shed between 5,000 and 7,000 jobs at its core brand by 2023 as a result of increasing automation of “routine tasks.”

The Wolfsburg-based company said Wednesday that the Volkswagen brand can cut the posts by not recruiting replacements for employees who retire, and so it can carry out “restructuring along the demographic curve.”

It said that, at the same time, it will create some 2,000 new jobs in technical development. The company noted in a statement that “with regard to all measures, Volkswagen has given its workforce a job security guarantee until at least 2025.”

The move comes as Volkswagen unveils a program aimed at improving earnings by 2023.

GENERAL MOTORS-RESTRUCTURING

Ohio governor doesn’t think GM will revive assembly plant

(Information in the following story is from: The Vindicator, http://www.vindy.com)

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s governor says it seems clear that General Motors isn’t planning on making a new line of vehicles at its assembly plant in the state.

The plant near Youngstown that shut down last week is one of five factories GM wants to close by next January.

Union leaders are hoping GM will agree during contract talks this summer to bring a new vehicle to the plant.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine tells The Vindicator in Youngstown that GM has given no hints about using the plant again.

He also says the automaker has indicated it’s talking with another company about using the site.

DeWine says GM isn’t saying who it’s talking with and that the state is ready to help bring jobs back to the plant once it knows more details.

TESLA-CHARGING STATIONS

LA suburb in deal with Tesla for large fast-charging site

(Information in the following story is from: Pasadena Star-News, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A Los Angeles suburb has agreed to a deal with Tesla to build what’s described as the largest fast-charging site for electric vehicles in the western United States.

Southern California News Group reports the Pasadena City Council this week voted for a five-year pact with Tesla to create 44 publicly accessible charging locations on the top of a parking structure.

Under the deal, Tesla would pay for 24 so-called super chargers for Tesla vehicles only.

The company would also install infrastructure for the city utility to add 20 fast-charging stations for non-Tesla vehicles.

The city sees the agreement as helping it achieve climate goals by attracting zero-emission vehicles.

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