Update on the latest in business:


Asia stocks sink

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are falling as fears about the virus outbreak once again dominate financial markets. Benchmarks fell Friday in Japan, South Korea, Australia and China after a sharp fall on Wall Street. Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 969 points, or 3.6%, wiping out most of its gains a day earlier.  Markets have endured roller coaster ups and downs for weeks because of uncertainty about how much damage the outbreak of the new coronavirus will do to the global economy. The growing understanding that the spread of infections — and resulting damage to the economy — may not slow anytime soon is pulling sharply on markets.

(NOTE: Following item becomes dated at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time)



US hiring was likely solid in February before virus spread

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy likely added jobs at a solid pace in February before an escalation of the coronavirus outbreak disrupted factory supply chains, slowed business travel and heightened economic fears.

Economists estimate that employers added 170,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate held at a very low 3.6%, according to data provider FactSet. The government will release its report Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The forecast suggests that the viral outbreak has yet to produce a measurable impact on the job market. The data for Friday’s jobs report was gathered mainly in the second week of February, before the virus began to spread through the United States.

Most economists expect some slowdown in hiring in the coming months. If employers were to start slashing jobs, it could significantly escalate the economic damage. For that reason, a range of job market barometers will provide some of the most vital signals about how the economy is withstanding the virus’ impact.


China’s virus outbreak steady, with 143 new cases

BANGKOK (AP) — China’s outbreak of the new coronavirus is holding steady. Health officials on Friday reported 143 new cases of infection and 30 new deaths, almost all in the epicenter of Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei where the virus was first detected in December.

That brings China’s totals to 3,042 deaths and 80,552 cases. It still has more than 80% of the world’s cases even though outbreaks are surging elsewhere, particularly Italy, Iran and South Korea.

China said 53,726 people have been declared cured and released. Of those sent home, 27,354 were in Wuhan.


Sweeping renewable energy bill poised for final passage

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A sweeping energy bill that supporters say would make Virginia a national leader in addressing climate change passed the state House Thursday amid warnings by critics that it will carry a steep price tag.

The legislation, called the Virginia Clean Economy Act, moved to the Senate for its expected final passage.

One of the new Democratic majority’s priorities this session, the bill would overhaul how Virginia utilities generate electricity, laying out a path toward zero carbon emissions by 2045. It paves the way for an enormous expansion of offshore wind generation, solar or onshore wind generation, and the use of battery storage technology.

The legislation requires utilities to meet certain energy efficiency standards utilities, creates a mandatory renewable portfolio standard, and contains provisions advocates say will remove barriers to rooftop and shared solar energy.


Facebook drops Trump ads after Pelosi cites census confusion

Facebook on Thursday began taking down ads for the reelection campaign of President Donald Trump that direct people to a survey labeled a “census,” hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said people would confuse it with the once-a-decade head count. Pelosi called the survey sponsored by the Trump reelection campaign “an absolute lie.” In a statement, the Republican National Committee said it would add language to future mailings, making it clear what it is.

Facebook said in a statement that it was enforcing its policies to prevent confusion over the 2020 census, which begins next week for most people.


JPMorgan CEO Dimon has emergency heart surgery, recovering

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan says its CEO Jamie Dimon has had emergency heart surgery but is recovering. The nation’s largest bank by assets said in a message to its more than 250,000 employees that Dimon was awake and alert following the surgery Thursday. It says that the bank’s co-presidents, Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith, will lead its operations while Dimon recuperates.

Dimon, who turns 64 next week, is one of the nation’s most influential CEOs. He took over as JPMorgan’s chief executive on New Year’s Eve 2005, was named chairman of the board a year later and steered the bank through the financial crisis of 2008. Dimon had a health scare in July 2014, when he disclosed he was battling throat cancer. The treatment was successful and Dimon said he was cancer free in December of that year.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. had a record year in profits and revenue in 2019, posting a full-year profit of $36.4 billion on revenue of $115.63 billion.

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