Asian stocks follow Wall St higher after Fed ups bond buys
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose today, cheered by fresh moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to support markets battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 4.9% higher, South Korea’s Kospi gained 5.3% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 3.9%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 2.6%. The Shanghai Composite edged up 1.4%.
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Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.8% to 3,066.59, which is 9.4% below its record set in February.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6%, to finish at 25,763.16 after earlier falling as much as 762 points. The Nasdaq composite added 1.4% to 9,726.02.
Businesses, colleges plead with Trump to preserve work visas
BOSTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is expected to announce new restrictions on work visas, and businesses and universities are pleading for restraint.
They say cutting off access to talented foreign workers will further disrupt the economy and stifle innovation.
But Republicans in Congress, conservative groups and other influential immigration hard-liners have been calling for stronger action after Trump’s prior visa restrictions didn’t go far enough for them.
The administration has yet to say which, if any, visas will be temporarily eliminated. But a relatively obscure work permit for foreign students called the Optional Practical Training program is among those drawing attention in recent weeks.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COMPANY WAIVERS
Many businesses ask customers, workers to waive legal rights
WASHINGTON (AP) — Many businesses are requiring customers and workers to sign forms saying they won’t sue if they catch COVID-19.
Businesses are afraid they could face lawsuits even if they follow social distancing and other government guidelines as they reopen across the U.S. after coronavirus shutdowns.
Lawyers say it depends on state law whether the waivers can be enforced. And worker advocates say the waiver forms force employees to make the difficult choice between returning to work and signing away their legal rights.
PG&E to plead guilty to deaths from California wildfire
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SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric is expected to plead guilty to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter for a wildfire that wiped out most of a Northern California town.
In a court hearing today, the nation’s largest utility will be confronted by the death and destruction caused by its history of neglect and greed.
The hearing before Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems comes nearly three months after PG&E reached a plea agreement in the November 2018 fire.
Investigators found the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise was ignited by PG&E’s rickety electrical grid.
The company agreed to pay a $3.5 million fine and $500,000 for the criminal investigation.
Fed moves to ensure companies can tap bond market for funds
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve said Monday that it will begin purchasing corporate bonds as part of a previously announced plan to ensure companies can borrow through the bond market during the pandemic.
The program will purchase existing bonds on the open market, as opposed to newly issued debt. The central bank said will seek to build a “broad and diversified” portfolio that will mimic a bond-market index. The bonds will have to be from highly rated, investment-grade companies, or ones that fit that description before the viral outbreak struck.
The Fed’s purchases should hold down corporate bond yields, making it cheaper for companies to borrow. But by also lowering the return from investing in those bonds, the Fed’s actions will likely encourage investors to shift money from corporate bonds to stocks in hopes of achieving a higher return.
House demands coronavirus loan info from Treasury, banks
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House subcommittee investigating billions of dollars in coronavirus aid is demanding that the Trump administration and some of the nation’s largest banks turn over detailed information about companies that applied for and received federal loans intended for small businesses.
The requests Monday came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress last week that the names of loan recipients and the amounts disbursed as part of the $600 billion-plus Paycheck Protection Program are “proprietary information” and do not have to be made public.
Democrats say there is nothing proprietary or confidential about businesses receiving millions of taxpayer dollars. They are urging more transparency so taxpayers can “understand whether federal funds are helping vulnerable businesses and saving jobs.”
OFFICERS SICKENED-SHAKE SHACK
Shake Shack ‘horrified’ officers’ drinks may have had bleach
NEW YORK (AP) — Three New York City police officers have been treated at a hospital after drinking Shake Shack milkshakes that may have been contaminated with a disinfectant.
A police union released a statement Monday saying the officers had been assigned to work a protest in Manhattan when they stopped at the restaurant for a meal.
The officers determined a toxic substance was added to their beverages. Another union says the officers weren’t seriously harmed.
The police department says it’s unclear whether the officers were targeted. Shake Shack tweeted that it is horrified by the reports and is working with police.
Asia Today: More controls used in Beijing as outbreak grows
BEIJING (AP) — China reported 40 more coronavirus infections Tuesday as it increased testing and lockdown measures in parts of the capital to control what appeared to be its largest outbreak in more than two months.
The new cases included 27 in Beijing where a fresh outbreak has been traced to the city’s largest wholesale market and bring the city’s total to 106 since Friday.
Tests were administered to workers at the Xinfadi market, anyone who had visited it in the past two weeks or anyone who had come in contact with either group. Fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China was also being inspected.
Philippines puts city back under virus lockdown
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials have placed a central city back under strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved in a televised meeting Monday night with key Cabinet officials a recommendation to lock down Cebu city anew and retain quarantine restrictions in metropolitan Manila where many of the nearly 26,500 infections and more than 1,000 deaths have been recorded.
First imposed in mid-March, the COVID-19 restrictions in Metro-Manila, the seat of government of more than 12 million people, have been among the longest in the world.
Driller charged over contamination in ‘Gasland’ town
UNDATED (AP) — An energy company faces felony charges that it polluted residential water wells in a Pennsylvania community that has long been a battleground in the national debate over natural gas drilling and fracking.
Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. was charged Monday following a grand jury investigation that found the company has failed to fix faulty gas wells that are leaking methane into residential water supplies in Dimock and surrounding communities.
The company has racked up hundreds of civil violations since 2007, and it has been banned from drilling in a 9-square-mile area of Dimock.
The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office charged Cabot with a total of 15 criminal counts, including illegal discharge of industrial wastes and unlawful conduct under the state’s Clean Streams Law.
The company has long insisted the gas in Dimock’s aquifer is naturally occurring.
Feds: eBay staff sent spiders, roaches to harass couple
UNDATED (AP) — Six former eBay employees have been charged with waging an extensive campaign to terrorize and intimidate the editor and publisher of an online newsletter with threats and disturbing deliveries to their home, including live spiders and cockroaches.
Federal authorities said Monday that senior eBay employees set out to terrorize the Massachusetts couple because executives were upset about the newsletter’s coverage of the company.
The employees are alleged to have sent a funeral wreath, bloody pig face Halloween mask and other alarming items to their home, and pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on it to their neighbor’s house.
NAVY SUBMARINE FRAUD
US: Company provided subpar steel for Navy submarine hulls
SEATTLE (AP) — Federal prosecutors say the Navy’s leading supplier of high-strength steel for submarines provided subpar metal for decades because one of the company’s longtime employees falsified lab results.
The Justice Department said Monday the supplier, Kansas City-based Bradken Inc., paid $10.9 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.
The company provides steel castings made at a foundry in Tacoma, Washington, that are used to make submarine hulls.
Prosecutors say Bradken discovered the fraud in 2017 but failed to fully disclose its scope to the Navy. The foundry’s lab director also has been charged criminally. The company said the incident is not representative of the organization.
FDA approves video game for treating ADHD in kids
BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has for the first time approved a video game for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
The FDA said Monday the game built by Boston-based Akili Interactive Labs can improve attention function.
The game, called EndeavorRx, requires a prescription and is designed for children ages 8 to 12 with certain symptoms of ADHD.
It’s the first time the FDA has cleared a digital therapy for improving ADHD symptoms, and the first time the agency has ever authorized marketing of a game-based therapy for any condition.
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