Asian shares mixed as China-US trade talks drag on
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday as investors awaited further developments in trade talks between the U.S. and China.
It was a steady start for the week after a wave of selling on Wall Street Friday left the S&P 500 with its worst weekly showing since January and its eighth loss in nine trading sessions.
The sell-off followed a surprisingly weak jobs report and more signs that the global economy is hitting the brakes. On Friday a report showed Chinese exports plunged 20 percent last month, far more than economists expected. On Thursday, Europe’s central bank said it was doing a policy reversal and restoring measures to shore up that region’s economy.
The S&P 500 dropped 0.2 percent to 2,743.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.1 percent to 25,450.24. The Nasdaq composite declined 0.2 percent to 7,408.14 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 0.1 percent, to 1,521.88. Major European indexes also closed lower.
U.S. and Chinese officials say the trade talks are making progress but no formal agreements or details of negotiations have been released.
China’s central bank governor on Sunday affirmed an official promise to avoid manipulating its currency to boost exports, an issue he said American and Chinese negotiators discussed in the latest talks in Washington aimed at ending a conflict over Beijing’s technology ambitions that has prompted both sides to raise tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose but remained below $56.50 per barrel.
The dollar was down against the yen and the euro.
CHINA-HUAWEI-STATE OF PLAY
Courtrooms to canola fields: Huawei-US tensions span globe
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese tech giant Huawei’s tensions with Washington, which says the telecom equipment maker is a security risk, stretch across four continents from courtrooms to corporate boardrooms to Canadian canola fields.
In the latest twist, Huawei Technologies Ltd. is asking a court in Texas to strike down a legal ban on the government using its equipment or dealing with any contractor that does.
Washington is trying to persuade European and other allies to shun the biggest maker of network technology as their phone carriers invest billions of dollars in upgrading to next-generation communications.
The company denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying or is controlled by the ruling Communist Party. Chinese authorities say the United States is exaggerating security concerns to block a potential competitor.
Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors are trying to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer from Canada to face charges she lied to banks about dealings with Iran.
ECONOMY-THE WEEK AHEAD
Business and economic reports scheduled for early this week
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department releases retail sales data for both December and January today.
On Tuesday, the Labor Department will release the Consumer Price Index for February.
Also, the Treasury Department will report on February’s federal budget.
Powell says Trump’s attacks played no role in rate pause
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says political attacks by President Donald Trump played no role in the Fed’s decision in January to signal that it planned to take a pause in hiking interest rates. He also says he can’t be fired by the president and that he intends to serve out his full four-year term.
In an interview with the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” Powell says that the Fed decided to pause its rate hikes in January, after increasing rates four times in 2018, because the global economy was slowing and other risks to the U.S. economy were rising.
Powell says that despite the criticism, the Fed will always “make decisions based on what we think is right for the American people.”
Trump to seek another $8.6 billion for wall
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will be seeking $8.6 billion in his new budget to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall, setting up another showdown with lawmakers who have resisted giving him more money for his signature campaign promise.
The request would more than double the $8.1 billion that could be available to the president after he declared a national emergency at the border to circumvent Congress once lawmakers refused his funding demands. That standoff led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
Two administration officials on Sunday confirmed that the request was part of Trump’s spending blueprint for the 2020 budget year that begins Oct. 1. That document sets the stage for negotiations ahead.
It also proposes boosting defense spending to $750 billion while reducing nondefense accounts by 5 percent, with cuts recommended to safety-net programs used by many Americans.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is brushing off concerns about rising budget deficits and slowing economic growth.
Kudlow says Trump’s budget “points a steady glide path” toward lower federal spending and federal borrowing as a share of the nation’s economy. The budget proposal will be released today.
China’s Yi: Envoys discussed avoiding currency as trade tool
BEIJING (AP) — China’s central bank governor says American and Chinese envoys discussed sticking to promises to avoid currency devaluations to boost exports during negotiations aimed at ending a tariff war.
Yi Gang gave no indication the two sides reached any agreements during their latest round of talks in Washington beyond previous commitments made at meetings of the Group of 20 major economies.
At a news conference Sunday, Yi said negotiators “discussed that both sides should adhere to the principle of market-determined exchange rate regime.” He said they “discussed that both sides should abide by” promises at G20 meetings to avoid “using exchange rates for competitive purposes.”
Chinese and American officials say talks aimed at ending the conflict over Beijing’s technology ambitions are making progress but no formal agreements have been announced.
Brexit backers to UK prime minister: Don’t delay
LONDON (AP) — Two prominent Brexit backers are warning Prime Minister Theresa May not to seek a delay to Britain’s scheduled March 29 departure from the European Union if her withdrawal deal is rejected Tuesday.
Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker and Democratic Unionist deputy leader Nigel Dodds wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that prolonging the Brexit process rather than making a clean break would lead to “political calamity.”
The two said slowing Britain’s departure would mean a “costly delay” for British businesses and irreparable damage to public trust in politics.
Brexiteers who are ready to embrace a “no-deal” Brexit if no agreement is approved by Britain’s Parliament worry that a possible vote this week to seek an extension of the talks will eventually lead to a softening or cancellation of Brexit plans.
Boeing likely to face new questions after another 737 crash
UNDATED (AP) — Boeing’s newest version of its most popular plane is again in the spotlight after a deadly accident in Ethiopia.
A Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off Sunday from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.
The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.
Those circumstances make the accident eerily similar to an October crash in Indonesia that killed all 189 people on the plane.
Safety experts are noticing the similarities but say a verdict on the plane should wait until investigations are complete.
Boeing says its plane is safe.
Meanwhile, China’s civilian aviation authority has ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
It said the order was taken out of safety concerns because the crash was the second after another off Indonesia in similar circumstances last year.
The agency said further notice would be issued after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing on safety measures taken.
Average US price of gas jumps 6 cents per gallon, to $2.50
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline is up 6 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) over the past two weeks, to $2.50.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says Sunday that the price at the pump is 9 cents lower than it was a year ago.
The highest average price in the nation is $3.29 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The lowest average is $2.13 in St. Louis, Missouri.
The average price of diesel rose 3 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.05.
‘Captain Marvel’ rockets to historic $153M debut
NEW YORK (AP) — “Captain Marvel,” Marvel Studios’ first female-fronted superhero movie, launched with an estimated $153 million domestically and $455 million globally.
It sets a new worldwide mark for a film directed or co-directed by a woman, comes in at the high end of expectations, and ranks as one of Marvel’s most successful character debuts. Only “The Avengers” movies, “Black Panther,” ”Captain America: Civil War” and “Iron Man 3” have opened better in the Marvel cinematic universe.
Last week’s top film, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” slid to a distant second place in its third weekend of release with $14.7 million. In its second weekend, Tyler Perry’s “A Madea Family Funeral” dropped 55 percent with $12 million. It’s made $45.9 million in 10 days.
“Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” came in fourth, bringing in $3.8 million in the U.S. and $3.9 million international.
No. 5 was. “Alita: Battle Angel,” It brought in $3.2 million domestically and $11.6 million internationally.
Chicago Symphony musicians on strike after talks break down
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians say they are on strike after contract talks broke down.
They say in a news release that picket lines will form starting at 8 a.m. Monday. They say management is still trying to reduce their pension benefits after nearly a year of negotiations.
The musicians walked out after completing a Sunday afternoon concert and negotiating all evening.
Steve Lester, bassist and chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee, says they “have been clear from the beginning that we will not accept a contract that diminishes the well-being of members or imperils the future of the orchestra.”
The contract expired Sept. 17, 2018, and was extended to March 10.
Helen Zell, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association board chair, says trustees are disappointed but still “look forward to the eventual resolution to a new contract.”