Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.5% and Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets also retreated. New Zealand gained.
On Wall Street Wednesday, stocks extended their losses into a second day as railroad operator CSX had its biggest drop in 11 years, pulling other industrial companies down with it. CSX plunged 10.3% after saying it expects this year’s revenue to decline as much as 2%, after previously saying it expected growth.
Washington talks could soon yield spending, debt deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington negotiators are closing in on a budget and debt deal that would stave off a government shutdown this fall and speed through must-do legislation to increase the government’s borrowing cap. The emerging framework would satisfy demands from defense hawks and Washington’s pragmatic class to complete $1.3 trillion in agency operating budgets, and it puts off battles over political land mines like immigration.
Microsoft reports hundreds of election-related cyber probes
UNDATED (AP) _ Microsoft says it has detected more than 740 infiltration attempts by nation-state actors in the past year targeting U.S.-based political parties, campaigns and other democracy-focused organizations including nonprofits. A company spokeswoman would not name or further characterize the targets. All subscribe to Microsoft’s year-old AccountGuard service. It provides free cyber-threat detection to candidates, campaigns and other groups, not all election-related.
Microsoft did not say how many infiltration attempts were successful but noted in a blog post Wednesday that such targeting similarly occurred in the early stages of the 2016 and 2018 elections.
A year ago, Microsoft said it had detected attempts to infiltrate the networks of U.S. senatorial candidates and think tanks.
^HEALTH CARE TAX
House Dems, GOP unite to repeal Obama health care tax
WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democrats and Republicans are joining in a rare show of unity, voting overwhelmingly to repeal an unpopular tax on generous health insurance that’s a symbol of former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The “Cadillac tax” has never gone into effect, since lawmakers kept delaying it.
It would slap a 40% levy on the value of health insurance above roughly $11,000 for single coverage and $30,000 for family policies. The Senate seems likely to follow the House in voting for its repeal.
Top senator calls for FBI to review popular photo app
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The top Senate Democrat is calling on the FBI to review a Russian company’s trendy smartphone app that transforms faces from photos into younger and older images of the person, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Senator Chuck Schumer says in the letter Wednesday to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission that he’s concerned FaceApp could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens.”
The New York Democrat is asking the agencies to assess the situation. He says it would be “deeply troubling” if sensitive personal information was provided “to a hostile foreign power actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States.”
Many popular apps collect user data, but concerns have circulated about FaceApp, which is developed in Russia by Wireless Lab.
Grounding of Boeing jet complicates United’s 2020 planning
CHICAGO (AP) _ The grounding of Boeing’s top-selling jet is making it harder for airlines that use the plane to plan for next year. A top United Airlines executive says his airline won’t get all the Boeing 737 Max jets it expected through 2020. That means United won’t grow quite as fast as it would otherwise.
United expected to have 30 Max jets in its fleet by now and to receive another 28 next year. But the plane has been grounded since March after deadly accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and Boeing suspended deliveries.
Japan’s exports fall in June, hit by global trade wars
TOKYO (AP) _ Japan says exports declined in June as shipments of goods were hit by global trade wars. The data released by the Finance Ministry Thursday show Japan’s exports declined 6.8% compared to the same month last year, while imports fell 5.2%. The ministry also reported that the trade surplus for the month totaled $5.5 billion. The Japanese economy is dependent on exports and has been hurt by the conflict between the U.S. and China.
President Donald Trump has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Beijing has countered by taxing $110 billion in U.S. goods.
^SOUTH KOREA-INTEREST RATE
South Korea’s central bank lowers rate amid Japan trade row
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s central bank has cut its policy rate for the first time in three years to combat a faltering economy that faces further risks from a heated trade dispute with Japan.
The Bank of Korea on Thursday lowered the key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.50% following a meeting of its monetary policy committee. The bank had hiked the rate by 0.25% points in November and last lowered borrowing costs in June 2016.
The move comes amid an escalating row between South Korea and Japan over Tokyo’s move to tighten controls on high-tech exports to its neighbor.
California pot regulators struggling with job, audit says
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An audit finds that the agency overseeing California’s legal marijuana market has been overmatched by the job and is struggling to hire sufficient staff and set an overall strategy for the nation’s largest cannabis economy.
According to an audit by the state Finance Department, about two-thirds of the 219 staff positions authorized for the Bureau of Cannabis Control remain unfilled. A shortage of staff in the enforcement unit is hindering the agency’s ability to conduct investigations.
The audit says that while the cannabis bureau is in its relative infancy and has established a foundation to oversee the market, “the current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities throughout California.”
^AU PAIR PAY
Au pairs could soon learn whether they will get payments
DENVER (AP) — Low-paid childcare workers from around the world could soon learn whether they will be getting payments from a proposed $65.5 million class action settlement.
A federal judge in Denver is scheduled to hold a hearing today on whether to grant final approval to the deal, which was announced in January.
The proposed settlement covers nearly 100,000 young people, mainly women, who came to the United States to work as au pairs from 2009 to late 2018. However, only those who filed claims are eligible to get payments, which are expected to average several thousand dollars each.
The deal also requires that agencies that connect au pairs with families notify both that au pairs can negotiate to be paid more than the minimum $195.75 a week required by the federal government.