Update on the latest business

^FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in midday trading on Wall Street as traders hope for progress in the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks getting underway in Washington.

Markets were encouraged Thursday after President Donald Trump said he would meet with the head of China’s negotiating team at the White House on Friday.

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Apple and Intel are leading technology stocks higher. Bed Bath & Beyond soared after naming a new CEO, and PG&E plunged after a federal bankruptcy judge allowed input into the restructuring of the troubled utility from creditors.

^CONSUMER PRICES

US consumer prices unchanged in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Overall consumer prices were unchanged in September as a big decline in energy costs offset small gains in other areas.

The Labor Department says the flat reading in its Consumer Price Index for September followed a tiny 0.1% August increase and left prices over the past 12 months rising at a modest annual rate of 1.7%.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, was up a tiny 0.1% in September and 2.4% over the past 12 months. That was the same 12-month rise for core prices as in August and both of those 12-month gains were the biggest July 2018.

^SOCIAL SECURITY-COLA

Retiree checks to rise modestly amid push to expand benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — Social Security says millions of retirees will get a modest 1.6% cost-of-living increase in 2020 — and that comes to about $24 more a month more the average retired worker.

That news could have political consequences in an election year when Democrats are pushing more generous inflation protection, along with better benefits overall.

After a significant boost this year, the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2020 is reverting to its pattern of moderate gains.

Seniors and advocates complain that the inflation yardstick used to determine the annual adjustment doesn’t adequately reflect their costs, mainly for health care.

The COLA affects household budgets for about 1 in 5 Americans, meaning nearly 70 million people, and that includes Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

^EARNS-DELTA AIR LINES

Delta posts strong earnings as fuel prices fall

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines is reporting better-than-expected profits for the third quarter as fuel prices fall.

Adjusted fuel expenses fell 10% during the three month reporting period.

Net income rose more than 13% to $1.5 billion, or $2.31 per share. Adjusted per-share earnings were $2.32, a nickel better than Wall Street projections, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

The airline, based in Atlanta, reported record revenue of $12.56 billion in the quarter, though that was just shy of expectations.

Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. rose about 2% before the opening bell Thursday.

^CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES-POWER SHUTOFF

PG&E begins restoring power to some customers

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — The largest U.S. utility has turned power back on for nearly a fifth of the nearly 2 million people who lost power in California over a two-day span in a deliberate move to prevent its equipment from sparking.

Pacific Gas & Electric spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin the utility cut power to about 750,000 customers starting Wednesday but was working to restore power Thursday, starting in the northern and rural Humboldt County.

Experts estimate there are between two to three people for each electrical customer.

Subbotin says the utility is closely monitoring strong winds developing in central California’s Kern County, where 4,000 customers could lose power later Thursday.

The utility began cutting electricity Wednesday to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and starting wildfires amid heavy winds and extreme fire danger.

^GOOGLE-WATER PERMIT

South Carolina: Google can pump drinking water for servers

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

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina is allowing Google to cool its servers by pumping nearly 550 million gallons of water annually from a declining aquifer.

The State reports the Health and Environmental Control Department approved a groundwater permit on Wednesday that runs through 2023.

Google promised to be sustainable and touted its nearly $2 billion investment in the region.

But critics said Google shouldn’t be allowed to draw from the dwindling drinking-water supply.

Clay Duffie, Mount Pleasant Waterworks manager, said Google should get its water from rivers, not “pristine” groundwater.

The Post and Courier reported that the water would flow into the sewage system after cooling the servers. Returning water to an aquifer is costly. But there are alternatives: The National Security Agency cools its massive data center in Maryland with treated wastewater.

^OPIOID CRISIS-LAWSUITS

Court denies attempt led by Ohio to stop opioid trial

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal appeals court has denied an effort led by Ohio’s attorney general to stop a bellwether trial over the opioid crisis from starting this month in Cleveland.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Ohio didn’t object when lawsuits filed by Summit and Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) counties were included in what has become a sprawling case involving around 2,600 local governments and other entities.

The attempt by state attorneys general was led by Ohio’s Dave Yost. They argued in August that states have the sole authority to pursue claims against drug companies on behalf of their citizens.

But a three-judge panel based in Cincinnati noted that preparations are far along for the first federal opioid crisis trial, scheduled to start Oct. 21.

Yost says that “we are reviewing our options.”

^BREXIT

UK, Irish leaders ‘see a pathway’ to Brexit deal

LONDON (AP) — The leaders of Britain and Ireland say they “could see a pathway to a possible deal” on Brexit after meeting to try to find common ground three weeks before the U.K. is set to leave the European Union.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar issued a joint statement following a private lunch meeting in northwest England on Thursday.

The statement said “they agreed to reflect further on their discussions and that officials would continue to engage intensively on them.”

Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31. Attempts to find a withdrawal deal have foundered over plans for the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.

The currently all-but-invisible border underpins both the regional economy and Northern Ireland’s peace process.

^CHINA-BILLIONAIRES

Survey: China’s rich got richer in 2019 despite tariff war

BEIJING (AP) — An annual survey of China’s wealthiest businesspeople found they got richer this year despite a tariff war with Washington and slowing economic growth.

The Hurun Report said Thursday the average net worth of China’s richest 1,800 people rose 10% over 2018 to $1.4 billion.

Jack Ma, who retired last month as chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba, was No. 1 with a net worth of $39 billion. Ma Huateng of Tencent, a games and social media company, was second with $37 billion.

The results reflected the growing importance of China’s consumer market at a time when U.S. tariff hikes have battered export-oriented manufacturing.

The number of businesspeople on the list from the tech, pharma and food industries rose while manufacturing declined.

^MALL SALE-STRANGER THINGS

Georgia mall featured in ‘Stranger Things’ to go up for sale

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Most of the Georgia mall heavily featured in the latest season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” is going up for sale.

News outlets report Moonbeam Capital Partners is ready to sell its portion of the long-struggling Gwinnett Place Mall, which has been so empty that a body went unnoticed near the food court for about two weeks in 2017.

A senior vice president for real estate firm Colliers International Atlanta, Tony D’Ambrosio, says no asking price has been set for the mall’s interior retail portion and much of its parking lots. The mall’s anchor tenants and their surrounding parking spaces, including Macy’s and a now-shuttered Sears store, are owned separately.

^3D PRINTER-BOAT

You’re gonna need a bigger boat? UMaine has printer for that

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The world’s largest 3D printer and the largest object ever printed have been unveiled at the University of Maine.

The university showed off a 25-foot, 5,000-pound boat Thursday that researchers think is just the beginning of the type of product that companies can bring to the market faster with 3D printing.

The boat was printed at the university’s Advanced Structures & Composite Center. The school and Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee are collaborating on the project, which aims to help businesses innovate with larger, faster prototypes.

The university says Guinness World Records confirmed it’s the world’s largest 3D-printed boat, the largest 3D-printed object and largest prototype polymer 3D printer.

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