Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stock markets rebound, following Wall Street higher

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on today, at least temporarily shaking off jitters about China’s virus outbreak.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.6% while the S&P-ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.5%. India’s Sensex opened up 0.9%. New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia also advanced.

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Asian markets slid Monday after analysts warned investor optimism that China’s disease outbreak was under control might be premature.

On Wall Street Monday, the S&P 500 rose 0.7% to 3,352.09 on gains by technology stocks, retailers and restaurants.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% to 29,276.82. The S&P 500 closed at a new high of 3,352.09, recovering from Friday’s decline. The Nasdaq climbed 1.1% to 9,628.39.

Traders shifted money into U.S. government bonds and bid up the price of gold. Both can signal unease. Investors mostly shunned energy and materials stocks, which depend upon economic growth more than other sectors do.

CHINA-EQUIFAX HACK-CORPORATE TARGETS

Equifax breach is the latest of many hacks linked to China

BOSTON (AP) — In 2014, the Obama administration accused five Chinese military agents of targeting Pittsburgh-area industrial companies including Westinghouse Electric, Alcoa and U.S. Steel. Since then, the number of companies allegedly targeted by Chinese hackers has only grown.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) assured then-President Barack Obama in 2015 his military would stop stealing commercial secrets from U.S. companies. The evidence indicates that pledge was short-lived, if it was honored at all.

The latest in a string of China-linked hacking incidents came with the Monday indictment of four members of the Chinese military for breaking into the credit-reporting agency Equifax in 2017. Cybersecurity experts say the motives, as with several others hacks that preceded it, appear to be more about espionage than stealing trade secrets.

TRUMP-ENVIRONMENT

US environmental law scale-back effort draws ire

DENVER (AP) — The Trump administration today will host the first of two hearings on a proposal to roll back a landmark environmental law, and activists say the abbreviated schedule is limiting the very public input that’s long been guaranteed by the 50-year-old law itself.

Tickets to speak at the Denver hearing of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality on the proposal were snapped up in minutes. So, too, were speaking slots for a second hearing in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25.

Officials added speaking sessions at both hearings to accommodate demand.

President Donald Trump on Jan. 9 proposed narrowing the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act, signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. Along with the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, it spells out the nation’s principal environmental protections.

NEPA requires federal agencies to determine if a construction or commercial project would harm the environment or wildlife. It gives the public the right of review and input.

GOVERNMENT LOAN-LORDSTOWN

Trump budget targets loan program that could help Lordstown

DETROIT (AP) — The Trump administration’s budget proposal scraps a loan program that could help an upstart electric vehicle company’s plans to reuse the now-closed General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio.

In a summary of the budget for the coming fiscal year, the administration said Monday it wants to eliminate the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which was created in 2007 to foster development of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Lordstown Motors Corp., a new venture that’s trying to reopen the former Lordstown GM factory east of Cleveland to build electric trucks, is considering asking for a $200 million from the loan fund. It’s also getting a $40 million loan from GM.

RIVER PCBs

Agreement will help speed cleanup of the Housatonic Rive

LENOX, Mass. (AP) — Federal environmental officials have unveiled a plan to speed the cleanup of the Housatonic (hoos-uh-TAH’-nihk) River in western Massachusetts and require General Electric to pay local communities $63 million.

Under the long-awaited deal, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, highly contaminated sediment will be removed from the river and floodplains and transported to existing licensed hazardous waste landfills in other locations in the country.

Lower-level PCB-contaminated materials will be consolidated into a double-lined upland disposal facility to be built in Lee, Massachusetts. The agreement also calls for the removal of more contaminated sediment from the river than previously required by the EPA’s 2016 cleanup plan.

PHOENIX-AIRPORT-RIDE-HAILING

Growing dispute over ride-hailing apps and Phoenix airport

PHOENIX (AP) — A dispute between ride-hailing companies and the city of Phoenix deepened on Monday, as Arizona state lawmakers introduced legislation that would bar raising fees on Uber and Lyft at Sky Harbor airport.

The latest salvo in the growing fight is an attempt by state lawmakers to keep a free-flow of ride-hailing companies serving the main airport in one of the U.S.’s largest cities. Uber and Lyft have threatened to stop service at the airport if the new fees are imposed.

Phoenix wanted to add the fees on Feb. 1. But they are on hold after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich found last month that they are “very likely” unconstitutional.

VAPING LAWSUIT-PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania sues Juul over marketing e-cigarettes to teens

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office sued electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. on Monday over how its products are marketed and sold to teenagers.

The agency is seeking an injunction from Philadelphia courts to halt Juul’s e-cigarette sales in Pennsylvania or force it to dramatically change business practices.

Nearly a quarter of high school students in Pennsylvania report using e-cigarettes, according to the suit. A Juul Labs spokesman said the company has not reviewed the complaint but wants to focus on combating underage use and converting adult smokers from traditional cigarettes.

GERMANY-EARNS DAIMLER

Daimler profits slump as auto industry comes under pressure

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, saw profit slump in 2019 and turned in a loss for the fourth quarter.

The weaker results announced today underline the pressures on the global auto industry from economic headwinds and the need to invest in electric cars to meet tougher European Union limits on greenhouse gases. The company also saw deductions to earnings from regulatory troubles regarding the emissions of its diesel cars.

Net profit for the full year fell to 2.71 billion euros ($2.94 billion) from 7.58 billion euros. In the fourth quarter of the year the Stuttgart-based company lost 11 million euros, compared to a profit of 1.64 billion euros in the year-earlier quarter.

CEO Ola Kallenius says “we cannot be satisfied” with the results but adds that the company is on track to cut costs and improve its earnings performance.

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