Asian shares give up early gains on China-US trade jitters
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Friday but benchmarks in Shanghai and Hong Kong gave up earlier strong gains amid uncertainty over the potential outcome of trade talks between China and the U.S.
Tensions between the world’s two largest economies dragged stocks on Wall Street lower. The worries about trade this week have stifled what has been the hottest start to a year for U.S. stocks in decades.
The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 2,870.72. The benchmark index has essentially given back all its April gains, though it’s still up 14.5% for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5% to 25,828.36. It was down nearly 450 points in morning trading before regaining much of the ground it lost. The Nasdaq composite slid 0.4%, to 7,910.59. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 0.3%, to 1,570.06.
The dollar inched up against the yen and weakened against the euro.
US hikes tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing vows retaliation
BEIJING (AP) — President Donald Trump’s latest tariff hike on Chinese goods took effect Friday and Beijing said it would retaliate, escalating a battle over China’s technology ambitions and other trade strains.
The Trump administration raised duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. China’s Commerce Ministry said would take “necessary countermeasures” but gave no details.
The increase went ahead after American and Chinese negotiators began more talks in Washington aimed at ending a dispute that has disrupted billions of dollars in trade and shaken global financial markets.
American officials accuse Beijing of backtracking on commitments made in earlier rounds of negotiations.
The talks were due to resume Friday after wrapping up with no word on progress.
Amazon’s Bezos says he’ll send a spaceship to the moon
WASHINGTON (AP) — Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos said Thursday he’s going to send a spaceship to the moon, joining a resurgence of lunar interest half a century after people first set foot there.
Bezos said his space company Blue Origin will land a robotic ship the size of a small house, capable of carrying four rovers and using a newly designed rocket engine and souped-up rockets. It would be followed by a version that could bring people to the moon along the same timeframe as NASA’s proposed 2024 return.
Bezos, who was dwarfed by his mock-up of the Blue Moon vehicle at his presentation Thursday, said, “This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon.”
The announcement for the usually secretive space company came with all the glitz of an Apple product launch in a darkened convention ballroom bedazzled with shimmering stars on its walls. Astronauts and other space luminaries sat in the audience under blue-tinted lighting before Bezos unveiled the boxy ship with four long and spindly landing legs.
Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, walked off the stage without providing details, including launch dates, customers and the plan for humans on his rockets. He spent more time talking about his dream of future generations living on orbiting space station colonies than on concrete details about Blue Origin missions.
Mexican government to handle construction of oil refinery
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government and state-owned oil company Pemex will oversee construction of a new $8 billion refinery after international companies bidding for the project could not meet the government’s time or budget requirements, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday.
Even before the announcement, the project had been criticized as not making financial sense for deeply indebted Pemex and concerns were voiced about the budget and timeframe being unrealistic.
López Obrador said Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle will run the project along with Pemex. Construction of the refinery in the port of Dos Bocas, Tabasco will begin June 2 and be completed in three years.
Mexico had invited four companies to bid on the project. One decided not to make a bid and the other three said they could do it for $10-$12 billion in four to six years.
Mexico’s state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, once a symbol of national pride, is a favorite subject for the nationalist López Obrador. In his mind, the country’s future success depends greatly on resurrecting Pemex, which has suffered years of insufficient investment and corruption.
Octavio Romero Oropeza, Pemex’s chief, said that last year Mexico consumed 1.2 million barrels of fuel per day, while its production was only 360,000 barrels, leaving imports to make up the difference.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Business events and economic reports scheduled for release today:
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Labor Department releases the Consumer Price Index for April today
Also, the Treasury Department releases federal budget for April.
Uber shifts into lower gear, prices IPO at $45 per share
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber is about to embark on a wild ride on Wall Street with the biggest and most hotly debated IPO in years.
The world’s leading ride-hailing service set the stage for its long-awaited arrival on the stock market by pricing its initial public offering at $45 per share Thursday.
The price is at the lower end of its targeted range of $44 to $50 per share. The pricing may have been driven by the escalating doubts about Uber’s ability to make money since its main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago and continues to see its stock drop.
Even at the tamped-down price, Uber now has a market value of $82 billion — significantly more than century-old automakers General Motors and Ford Motor.
Uber reaches settlements with some drivers
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber has reached settlements with some drivers who said they should have been classified as employees instead of independent contractors.
The settlement agreement was announced Thursday, on the eve of Uber’s anticipated IPO.
The agreements follow strikes by Uber and Lyft drivers who were protesting what they said were low wages with no job protections.
Uber said it reached agreements with the majority of the 60,000 drivers who were involved the claims. It anticipates spending $146 million to $170 million to pay the settlements and attorney fees, and said it set aside $132 million for that purpose in December.
Lyft faces similar challenges, and said it paid $1.95 million to settle a 2018 California case alleging the company misclassified drivers as independent contractors.
Anadarko says it has a deal with Occidental
SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Anadarko says it has agreed to a buyout bid from Occidental Petroleum and will pay a $1 billion deal-termination fee to Chevron to end a rare bidding war in the oil patch.
The end came hours after Chevron announced that it would not sweeten its offer for Anadarko, which controls rich oil and natural gas fields in the U.S. Southwest.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said Thursday that Occidental will pay $59 in cash and 0.2934 of a share of Occidental for each share of Anadarko common stock.
The companies said the deal is expected to close in the second half of this year. It would need approval by Anadarko shareholders and U.S. regulators.
The companies also said Occidental has lined up financing for the cash part of the transaction. The deal does not need approval by Occidental’s stockholders.
Feds revive proposal for new oil, gas drilling in California
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The federal government wants to reopen over 1.7 million acres in California to oil and gas drilling that includes fracking on land that has been off-limits since environmentalists sued in 2013.
The Bureau of Land Management issued final plans Thursday for oil and gas leases on 800,000 acres of federal land mainly between the Central Coast and Central Valley.
The move comes less than a month after the agency issued a draft plan to allow drilling on over 1 million acres in counties surrounding the Bakersfield area.
The move is part of the Trump administration’s broader goal of making the U.S. energy independent.
Environmentalists who had successfully blocked the Obama administration’s efforts criticized efforts to revive the plans.
Coal’s slide to continue in US as renewables fill the gap
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. demand for coal to generate electricity will continue its slide in coming months despite efforts by the Trump administration to prop up the struggling industry.
According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable energy sources are expected to fill much of the gap left by coal’s decline.
That’s particularly true for Western states, where wind, solar, hydropower and other renewables will provide almost a quarter of the power to households and businesses during the peak summer season.
According to projections released by the agency. natural gas will remain the fuel of choice for power generation with an expected 40% share of U.S. markets this summer.
Coal’s share of power generation is projected to be 25%.
Amazon to make sure school supplies don’t have lead, cadmium
SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon has agreed to make sure school supplies and children’s jewelry sold on its website do not contain excessive levels of lead or cadmium.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said an investigation found dozens of items that tested above legal levels for the dangerous metals.
Some pencil pouches had parts containing 80 times the legal limit for lead and about 30 times the limit for cadmium.
When officials presented their findings, Amazon notified customers around the country and issued more than $200,000 in refunds.
In a settlement filed in state court Thursday, Amazon said it will require sellers of school supplies and children’s jewelry to submit lab results certifying that the products are safe. That includes third-party sellers who use Amazon Marketplace.
Amazon also agreed to pay the Attorney General’s Office $700,000.
Japanese man, son to be held before US trial in Ponzi case
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal judge reversed a magistrate’s decision and ordered a father and son from Japan to remain jailed pending trial on fraud charges in what prosecutors call a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme.
Attorney Richard Wright, representing former MRI International Inc. executives Junzo Suzuki and his son, Paul Suzuki, declined Thursday to comment about U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s decision on Tuesday to keep his clients in federal custody. Trial is scheduled next month.
Federal prosecutors argue the Suzukis have the money and motive to flee before trial because they face possibly spending the rest of their lives in U.S. prison.
The 70-year-old father and 40-year-old son were arrested in Japan and transferred to the U.S. last month.
They’ve pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
2 Chinese men indicted for hacking Anthem, 3 other companies
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Justice Department says a grand jury has indicted two Chinese men for hacking into the computers of health insurer Anthem Inc. and three other, unnamed companies.
The indictment unsealed Thursday in Indianapolis alleges 32-year-old Fujie Wang and a man identified only as John Doe of stealing the personal information of nearly 79 million people including names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and medical IDs, from Anthem in 2015 in the biggest known health care hack in U.S. history. Indianapolis-based Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, agreed last October to pay the government a record $16 million to settle potential privacy violations.
An FBI wanted poster says Wang resides in Shenzhen, China. The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with China.
A Justice Department spokeswoman had no comment when asked how confident it is that it will prosecute Wang.