Update on the latest business

^FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rally

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving broadly higher on Wall Street as traders applaud signs of progress in scaling back the trade tensions between China and the U.S.

Technology stocks and banks led the way higher in midday trading. Chipmaker Qualcomm soared 8% after reporting earnings that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. JPMorgan Chase climbed 1.2%.

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The gains came after China said it had agreed with the U.S. to gradually ease tariffs on each other’s exports as long as talks continue to make progress.

Bond prices fell sharply. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.93%.

^MORTGAGE RATES

US mortgage rates fall this week from 3-month high

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates slipped this week from the highest level since July and remain at historically low levels that are helping would-be home buyers.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.69% from 3.78% last week. That’s also down more than a full percentage point from a year ago when it was 4.94%.

Lower rates are helping support the housing market. Sales of existing homes rose nearly 4% in September from a year ago, while new home sales have soared 16% during that time. Yet potential homebuyers still face a shortage of available homes, which is pushing prices higher.

The average rate on a 15-year mortgage fell to 3.13% this week from 3.19% a week ago.

^EARNS-PG&E

PG&E expects more than $6B in wildfire costs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting substantial losses for the third quarter driven by catastrophic wildfires. The company anticipates those costs could escalate to as much as $6.3 billion.

The state’s largest utility on Thursday swung to a loss of $1.62 billion, after a profit of $564 million in the same period last year.

That’s a per-share loss of $3.06, or $1.11 when one-time costs are removed. Revenue was $4.43 billion.

The bankrupt company is facing criticism for blackouts intended to limit wildfires, but that have left millions without power.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called PG&E CEO Bill Johnson into a closed-door meeting Tuesday.

^EXXON-CLIMATE LAWSUIT

Exxon denies that it misled investors on climate risks

NEW YORK (AP) — Attorneys for New York state say climate change may be the defining risk for oil and gas companies in coming decades and that Exxon Mobil misled investors about how it was handling that risk.

Lawyers made closing arguments Thursday in a case that accused the energy giant of downplaying the impact of stricter climate regulations in a warming world.

New York’s attorneys say Exxon Mobil used two sets of books to account for how potential regulations would impact its business. They say Exxon wanted to make its oil and gas development projects look more attractive to investors.

Exxon attorney Ted Wells says the company took climate risks seriously. He denies that Exxon used two sets of books and says the state failed to prove any investors were harmed.

^OPIOID CRISIS-NEW YORK

New York judge sets opioid crisis trial for January

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — A New York judge has scheduled what could be the second state-level trial in the U.S. on the toll of opioids.

Judge Jerry Garguilo on Wednesday set a trial date of Jan. 20 for claims brought by the state attorney general and the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk against a group of drug manufacturers and distributors.

He is not hearing claims against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma or members of the Sackler family who own it. They are attempting to settle some 2,700 claims against the company through federal bankruptcy court.

Other companies have also been trying to reach a settlement of more than 2,000 cases across the U.S.

An Oklahoma judge this year ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in the nation’s first opioid liability trial.

^T-MOBILE-POST-MERGER PROMISES

T-Mobile promises consumer benefits if Sprint deal OK’d

NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile is promising a new $15 wireless plan if its $26.5 billion Sprint deal goes through.

T-Mobile is also promising free internet to emergency first responders for 10 years and to low-income households with children for five years. The $15 plan is for anyone, but comes with just 2 gigabytes of data per month.

Federal regulators have approved the deal.

But attorneys general of 15 states and the District of Columbia aim to block it, saying it will raise prices for consumers. A trial is to start in December.

T-Mobile has already made promises to get the deal done, including providing coverage in rural areas and not raising prices for three years.

Regulators could fine T-Mobile for breaking the earlier promises, but T-Mobile isn’t legally required to fulfill the new ones.

^EUROPE-US-CHINA TECH

Trump adviser warns China exporting tech authoritarianism

LONDON (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s technology adviser has warned about China exporting authoritarianism globally in parallel with its rise as a tech power.

Michael Kratsios told a major technology conference on Thursday, “if we don’t act now, Chinese influence and control of technology will not only undermine the freedoms of their own citizens, but all citizens of the world.”

Kratsios’s speech at Portugal’s Web Summit was the latest salvo in the U.S.-China battle for global tech dominance.

He said while the U.S. and its allies have been cooperating to develop technology for good, China’s government “continues extending its authoritarianism abroad,” and specifically cited tech giant Huawei (WAH’-way).

The U.S. is lobbying allies to shun Huawei, which it says can be forced to facilitate Chinese cyberespionage, though the company has repeatedly denied the allegations.

^EUROPE-ECONOMY

EU cuts growth forecasts for eurozone for this year and next

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s executive branch has cut its growth forecasts for the 19-country eurozone for this year and next.

The European Commission said Thursday that the single currency bloc is expected to grow 1.1% this year, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous forecast. And next year, growth is expected to be 0.2 percentage point lower than previously estimated 1.2%. Growth in 2021 is also expected at 1.2%.

The outgoing commissioner responsible for economic affairs, Pierre Moscovici, said all European economies are set to grow over the coming two years “in spite of increasingly strong headwinds.”

He said the fundamentals are “robust” and that after six years of growth, unemployment across the wider 28-country EU is at “its lowest since the turn of the century.”

^BRITAIN-BREXIT-JOHN BERCOW

AP Interview: Ex-speaker Bercow brands Brexit a huge mistake

LONDON (AP) — John Bercow, the former British House of Commons speaker, says Brexit is a historic mistake and the country should not be bound by the close 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

Bercow retired last week after a decade overseeing the business and debates of Parliament.

In that job he had to be neutral. But he now says that Brexit is the U.K.’s biggest foreign policy “blunder” since World War II and that it will leave the country weakened economically and in terms of global standing and influence.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Thursday, Bercow says “the best course for the U.K. is to remain” in the EU.

He says Britain’s 2016 referendum to leave the bloc “isn’t the final word on the subject” and says it would be democratic to hold a new public vote.

^CUBA-US

UN votes overwhelmingly to condemn US embargo on Cuba

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the American economic embargo of Cuba for the 28th year, rejecting U.S. concerns about human rights on the Caribbean island.

The vote in the 193-member assembly on Thursday was 187-3 with the U.S., Israel and Brazil voting “no” and Ukraine and Colombia abstaining. Last year, the assembly voted 189-2 with no abstentions.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and are unenforceable, but they reflect world opinion and the vote has given Cuba an annual stage to demonstrate the isolation of the U.S. on the embargo.

The United States imposed the embargo in 1960 following the revolution led by Fidel Castro and the nationalization of properties belonging to U.S. citizens and corporations. Two years later it was strengthened.

^NATIONAL TOY HALL OF FAME

Matchbox cars, coloring book, Magic make Toy Hall of Fame

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Matchbox cars, the coloring book and the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The newest honorees debuted decades ago but occupy store shelves even today.

The Class of 2019 was installed Thursday from a group of finalists that also included Care Bears, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Jenga, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Nerf Blaster, Risk, the smartphone and the top.

Anyone can nominate a toy, but to make it into the hall a toy has to be innovative, widely recognized, and foster creativity or discovery through play.

A national selection committee picks the winners.

The National Toy Hall of Fame is inside The Strong museum in Rochester.

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