Asian shares decline on jitters over new outbreaks of virus
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly lower today in Asia as worries over fresh outbreaks of coronavirus cases overshadowed hopes over reopening economies.
The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.4%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% lower and South Korea’s Kospi gave up 0.4%.
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Shares also fell in Taiwan, Singapore and Jakarta, while Bangkok gained 0.5%.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended the day at a virtual standstill, up just 0.52 points at 2,930.32, rallying back from a 0.9% loss in the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4% to 24,221.99, while the Nasdaq composite added 0.8%, to 9,192.34.
Tesla CEO Musk restarts California factory amid lockdown
FREMONT, Calif. (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed Monday that the company has restarted its California factory, a move that defied local government orders involving measures to contain the coronavirus.
In a tweet, Musk practically dared authorities to arrest him, writing that he would be on the assembly line and if anyone is taken into custody, it should be him.
State law allows a fine of up to $1,000 a day or up to 90 days in jail for operating in violation of health orders. The plant in Fremont, a city of more than 230,000 people south of San Francisco, had been closed since March 23.
The restart defied orders from the Alameda County Public Health Department, which has deemed the factory a nonessential business that can’t open under virus restrictions.
China auto sales fall in April but loss narrows
BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales declined again in April, but losses narrowed in a sign the industry’s biggest global market is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic as Beijing eases anti-disease controls.
An industry group reported sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans in the industry’s biggest global market were down 2.6% from a year earlier at 1.5 million, an improvement over March’s 48.4% contraction.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said the market shows “obvious signs of recovery.” Sales plunged 81.7% in February after dealerships and other businesses were shut down to fight the try to stop the virus’s spread.
Toyota profit drops on virus outbreak but recovery expected
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. expects a sharp plunge in its fiscal fourth quarter profit after the global pandemic slammed vehicle sales and halted production at its auto plants.
Japan’s top automaker reports a profit of $590 million for the quarter that ended in March, nose-diving 86% from the previous year.
Toyota officials say it was difficult to project the future, given the varying degrees of lockdowns around the world and uncertainties on how the coronavirus outbreak may develop.
The company did not give a net profit forecast for the fiscal year through March 2021. Sales are expected to recover as the pandemic is brought under control.
Honda sinks deeper into quarterly losses on virus outbreak
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. sank deeper into losses for the fiscal quarter that ended in March, as the damage to the industry from the coronavirus outbreak hurt sales and crimped production.
Tokyo-based Honda reports a January-March loss of $276 million. Quarterly sales declined nearly 15%from a year earlier.
The maker of the Odyssey minivan and Asimo robot did not provide forecasts for the current fiscal year because of uncertainties caused by the pandemic. It says it will give projections as soon as possible.
Honda stresses that it’s putting the safety of its workers, dealers, suppliers and customers first.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLORADO RESTAURANT
Colorado restaurant shut down for allowing sit-down dining
DENVER (AP) — A Colorado restaurant that opened for full service on Mother’s Day in defiance of state rules banning sit-down dining was ordered to close Monday and had its license suspended indefinitely by health officials.
A video posted by Colorado Community Media showed people sitting at tables and waiting close together in line at the counter of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen while others lined up outside.
Except for one person wearing a mask, the scene at the eatery in Castle Rock about 30 miles south of Denver appeared similar to a busy day at many restaurants before the government allowed only takeout service due to the coronavirus.
Gov. Jared Polis said the restaurant was “causing an immediate health hazard,” and its business license will remain suspended until it is no longer a threat.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-DEFIANT BARBER
Small-town barber wins early victory in fight to stay open
DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Monday declined to stop a defiant Michigan man who reopened his barber shop despite a state order that has closed businesses for weeks because of the coronavirus.
The judge rejected a request for a restraining order and said Karl Manke deserves a hearing if the state wants to shut down his business in Owosso, a small town 40 miles northeast of the state Capitol.
The 77-year-old has become a symbol of resistance to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s sweeping stay-home order and other restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
Feds: Arsenal found in the home of Walmart threat suspect
HORIZON CITY, Texas (AP) — Federal officials say agents found multiple firearms, including a machine gun, at the West Texas home of a man accused of making online threats that included a photo of a weapon and a reference to Walmart.
The FBI said it received a tip Friday about a social media post with a picture of a weapon and some of the text reading “#watchoutwalmartimcoming #droplikeflys.” According to a joint statement from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in El Paso, a warrant to search the Horizon City home of Alex R. Barron turned up the weapons cache, including at least one fully automatic firearm equipped with a suppressor,
Barron, 29, was arrested Friday evening and charged with a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and a charge of possession of a machine gun. Barron had been convicted in El Paso County of a drug-related felony in 2012.
Arkansas professor accused of not disclosing ties to China
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) —The University of Arkansas has suspended an electrical engineering professor without pay after he was arrested on an allegation that he failed to disclose that he had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese businesses.
Sixty-three-year-old Simon S. Ang of Fayetteville, Arkansas was arrested Friday on a wire fraud count after failing to make the disclosure on an application for a NASA grant. That’s according to a statement from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Little Rock, Arkansas.
A federal complaint says such materially false representations to NASA and to the university led to numerous wire messages that facilitated a scheme to defraud. A university spokeswoman said the school suspended Ang and is cooperating with federal investigators.
Ang remained in Fayetteville without bond.
OIL TRAIN RESTRICTIONS
US says Washington state overstepped with oil train law
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration on Monday moved to block a Washington state law that imposed safety restrictions on oil shipments by rail following a string of explosive accidents.
The Department of Transportation determined federal law preempts the rules adopted last year in Washington that had mandated crude from the oil fields of the Northern Plains have more of its volatile gases removed prior to being loaded onto rail cars.
With backing by the rail and oil industries, the attorneys general for Montana and North Dakota had argued the law effectively banned crude from their states. In July, they asked the Trump administration to overrule the law.
The volatility of oil trains drew widespread public attention following several explosive derailments, including one in 2013 in Quebec that killed 47 people. Washington’s law was aimed at boosting safety for schools and homes that are near passing oil trains.
ARMY CORPS-UTILITY PERMITS
US judge says new pipelines need more review
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge in Montana has revised a recent court ruling that held up numerous utility projects crossing streams and wetlands but left in place a requirement for new oil and gas pipelines to undergo further environmental review.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris means the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can again use a disputed permitting program to approve electrical lines and other utility work through streams and wetlands. Maintenance and repair work on existing pipelines also would be allowed, but not construction of new pipelines.
The Army Corps program, known as Nationwide Permit 12, was blocked by Morris last month. In a lawsuit over the Keystone XL pipeline, the judge sided with environmentalists who argued companies were using the program to skirt water protection laws and ignore the cumulative harm from thousands of stream and wetlands crossings.
Biggest US solar project approved in Nevada despite critics
RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Trump administration announced final approval Monday of the largest solar energy project in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the world despite objections from conservationists who say it will destroy thousands of acres of habitat critical to the survival of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise in Nevada.
The $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas is expected to produce 690 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 260,000 households — and annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars. The first phase of the project covering about 11 square miles of federal land is expected to be completed next year with 440 MW of solar capacity for use in Nevada.
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