Asian shares higher, Korean Kospi falls after missile launch
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares rallied today after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs, though South Korea’s Kospi declined after North Korea launched two short range missiles into the sea.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.2% while the Kospi lost 0.4%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite index climbed 0.2%. Australian’s S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.6%. India’s Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 37,881.80. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the Nasdaq rose 0.8% to 8,321.50, while the S&P 500 index rose 0.5% to 3,019.56, putting it on track for a weekly gain. Both indexes logged fresh record highs. But Boeing and Caterpillar weighed down the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell 0.3% to 27,269.97.
Alphabet, Amazon.com and Starbucks report earnings after the market closes.
Nissan to slash 12,500 jobs to cut costs, achieve turnaround
TOKYO (AP) — Nissan says it is slashing 12,500 jobs or about 9% of its global workforce in an effort to cut costs and achieve a turnaround, as its profits tumble.
Nissan Motor Co. reported the job cuts today with its fiscal first quarter earnings statement.
Company officials did not immediately give details on a regional breakdown or how the job cuts will be achieved.
The Japanese automaker is struggling to restore its brand image and revive growth following the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in November for alleged financial misconduct. He says he is innocent. He is awaiting trial in Japan.
Yokohama-based Nissan reported its global vehicle sales fell 6% in April-June, compared to the same period the year before.
European Central Bank debates stimulus jolt for economy
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank could cut interest rates or signal it is close to doing so as it meets today to discuss how to support the economy through uncertainties including trade wars and Brexit.
The ECB, which sets interest rates for the 19 countries that use the euro, is expected by many analysts to at least tweak its promise to keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels into next year. New wording would emphasize that the next move down the road could be a cut.
But a rate cut today is not out of the question— even though one of the rate benchmarks is already below zero.
The meeting comes as central banks around the globe are moving, or at least preparing, to support the global economy.
^UNITED NATIONS-INNOVATIVE ECONOMIES
US back in top 5 innovative economies, China climbs to 14th
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States has reclaimed its ranking in the top five countries in the world for economic innovation, while China climbed from 17th to 14th position in the new list of nearly 130 nations.
The Global Innovation Index 2019 released Wednesday by the U.N. intellectual property agency says that “innovation is blossoming around the world.”
The list keeps Switzerland in the No. 1 spot, a position it has held since 2011. Next are Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and Britain. The United States had fallen from fourth place in 2017 to sixth in the 2018 rankings.
Israel entered the top 10 for the first time this year at No. 10, while South Korea edged closer to the top 10 at number 11.
Brazil in diplomatic impasse with Iran over US sanctions
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil is entangled in a diplomatic spat with the Iranian government that could seriously damage a long-standing commercial relationship with Iran, which is the biggest buyer of Brazilian corn.
Iran’s ambassador said Wednesday that Tehran would reconsider imports from Brazil if it continues to refuse to refuel two Iranian vessels stranded there.
Brazilian oil giant Petrobras is refusing to supply fuel to the ships, which it says could lead to significant fines since they appear on a list of U.S. sanctions.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is actively seeking a rapprochement with President Donald Trump and has backed U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The Brazilian company seeking to export corn aboard the two Iranian ships contends the sanctions do not apply to corn as agricultural commodities are protected under a “humanitarian exception.”
Privacy case settled, Facebook discloses FTC antitrust probe
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook says it is under antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The company made the announcement just hours after the agency slapped it with a record $5 billion fine and new oversight on its privacy practices.
Facebook said Wednesday that it was informed of the FTC’s antitrust investigation in June. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice also announced a broad antitrust probe of technology companies. Though that agency didn’t name any companies, broad antitrust concerns have long swirled around Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Facebook also faces various probes in Canada and Europe as regulators seek to crack down on the growing power of these U.S. technology companies.
Following on Facebook’s public disclosure, the FTC confirmed the antitrust probe, but would not give details such as how long the probe has been underway.
Tesla posts $408M loss in 2Q, causing stock to plummet
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tesla suffered a loss of $408 million during its latest quarter as the company continues to struggle to prove it can make money while producing electric cars at prices that a mass market can afford.
The setback announced Wednesday had already been telegraphed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, but it still underscored an ongoing challenge that helps explains why the company’s shares have plunged by more than 20% so far this year while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has surged by 20%.
On the upside, Tesla’s revenue climbed 47% from the same time last year to $5.2 billion. The company also generated $614 million in cash during the quarter.
But the loss was larger than analysts projected.
House passes bill in latest step to fight robocalls
UNDATED (AP) _ The House has passed a bill aimed at combatting robocalls, the latest attempt to counter the wave of spam calls as complaints pile up.
Federal agencies have also stepped up anti-robocall measures, allowing carriers to block unwanted calls by default and encouraging the wireless industry to roll out technology that guarantees the number showing up on your caller ID isn’t faked to fool you into answering a scammer.
The Senate passed a bill similar to the House one, the Traced Act, in May, with near-unanimous support. The House version, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, goes further in attempting to stop companies from making telemarketing calls. Both bills have support from consumer groups and the telecom industry.
The House has passed the robocall bill by a 429-3 vote.
Madoff seeks sentence reduction for epic Ponzi scheme
NEW YORK (AP) — Epic Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff is seeking an early release from prison.
The Department of Justice confirmed on Wednesday that Madoff has a pending request to get his 150-year sentence reduced.
It was unclear when the 81-year-old Madoff made the bid for President Donald Trump to commute his sentence. The lawyer who represented him in his criminal case declined comment on Wednesday.
Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He swindled thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over decades.
A court-appointed trustee has recovered more than $13 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that investors put into Madoff’s business.
Madoff is serving his term in a North Carolina prison.
China to fund 85% of Malaysia’s revived rail project
DUNGUN, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s Transport Minister says China’s Export-Import Bank is expected to finance 85% of a 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion) rail link project that will bolster economic development in rural eastern states.
The East Coast Rail Link was suspended a year ago shortly after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad won a historic election, but the government said in April it will revive it after the Chinese contractor agreed to slash cost by a third. The project connects Malaysia’s west coast to poorer eastern states and is a key part of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
At a ceremony today to relaunch the project, the transport minister said Malaysia is expected to sign the financing agreement with China’s EXIM Bank soon but didn’t give further details.