Asia markets slip as virus outbreaks mute hopes for rebound
TOKYO (AP) — Markets were mostly lower in Asia today as expanding coronavirus outbreaks dim hopes for a global recovery, despite an overnight rally in tech shares that pushed the Nasdaq composite to another record high.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 0.4% lower and South Korea’s Kospi lost early gains to decline nearly 1.0%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed, edging less than 0.1% lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite gained 1.2%.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 1.6%, closing up 49.71 points to 3,179.72 for its third gain of at least 1.5% in the last five days.
Stocks of the biggest companies once again led the way, and strength for Apple, Amazon and other tech-oriented titans helped lift the Nasdaq composite 2.2%, to a record high of 10,433.65.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.8% to 26,287.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks was up a more modest 0.8%.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-AIR NEW ZEALAND
Air New Zealand puts hold on new flight bookings
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s national carrier has put a temporary hold on new bookings for flights into the country while the government tries to find enough quarantined hotel rooms for people returning home.
Air New Zealand says the hold will last for three weeks and it is also trying to better align flights with the hotel locations. New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the coronavirus but is still getting cases at the border. For the most part, only residents and citizens are able to fly into the country and must remain in a quarantined hotel room for 14 days. Housing Minister Megan Woods says the government is currently housing nearly 6,000 people in 28 quarantine facilities and is seeing rapid growth in the number of returning residents as the pandemic worsens globally.
Facebook, others block requests on Hong Kong user data
HONG KONG (AP) — Social media platforms and messaging apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google and Twitter say they will deny law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong while studying ramifications of a national security law enacted last week.
Facebook and its messaging app WhatsApp said in separate statements Monday that they would freeze the review of government requests for user data in Hong Kong, “pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”
The policy changes follow the rollout last week of laws prohibiting what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities, or as foreign intervention in the territory’s internal affairs.
TikTok to leave Hong Kong as security law raises worries
HONG KONG (AP) — TikTok says it will stop operations in Hong Kong after the city enacted a sweeping national security law last week.
The company says in a statement that it decided to halt operations “in light of recent events.”
TikTok’s departure from Hong Kong comes as various social media platforms and messaging apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google and Twitter balk at the possibility of providing user data to Hong Kong authorities. The social media companies say they are assessing the ramifications of the national security law.
SOUTH KOREA-SAMSUNG EARNINGS
Samsung projects 23% jump in 2Q profit on strong chip sales
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics says its operating profit for the last quarter likely rose 23% from the same period last year, helped by robust demand for memory chips used in personal computers and servers as the coronavirus pandemic has more people working from home.
The South Korean technology giant will release more detailed information when it announces its finalized earnings later this month. It projected its operating profit during the April-June period will be 8.1 trillion won ($6.8 billion). The company’s revenue for the quarter is forecast to fall 7% to 52 trillion won ($43.6 billion).
Analysts say Samsung, which is the world’s largest provider of semiconductors, is continuing to benefit from robust chip demand generated by PCs and servers. It’s likely that the pandemic is also forcing the company to spend less on marketing due to traveling restrictions.
Court overturns order to have GM, Fiat Chrysler chiefs meet
DETROIT (AP) — An appeals court on Monday said the CEOs of General Motors and Fiat Chrysler don’t have to meet to settle a lawsuit between the two automakers.
The court overturned an extraordinary decision by a federal judge in Detroit who had ordered GM’s Mary Barra and FCA’s Mike Manley to get together and settle a dispute over FCA’s alleged role in corruption by union leaders. The appeals court said the lower court judge, Paul Borman, abused his discretion by singling out Barra and Manley and setting other conditions.
GM is suing crosstown rival FCA, alleging that it got an advantage by paying off union leaders to reduce labor costs during contract talks. FCA’s former labor chief, Al Iacobelli, is in prison, although the company denies that it directed any prohibited payments.
Supreme Court deals blow to Keystone oil pipeline
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has handed another blow to the disputed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada by keeping in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key permit for the project.
But Monday’s order also puts on hold the lower court ruling out of Montana as it pertains to other oil and gas pipelines across the nation. The Trump administration had argued a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer permit program that has been in the place since the 1970s was functioning properly when it was cancelled by a Montana judge in April. But environmentalists had argued the program allowed companies to skirt responsibility for damage done to water bodies.
Industry representatives had warned that the April ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris blocking the program would delay more than 70 pipeline projects across the U.S. and add as much as $2 billion in costs.
KOBE BRYANT-HELICOPTER PILOT
Company that flew Kobe Bryant’s helicopter gets federal help
UNDATED (AP) — The operator of the helicopter that crashed, killing former NBA star Kobe Bryant and eight others, received between $150,000 and $350,000 from taxpayers under a program to help small businesses hurt by the virus pandemic.
Island Express Helicopters Inc. of Long Beach, California, was approved for the funds to help preserve 20 jobs, according to government records. The Treasury Department on Monday identified companies that received at least $150,000 in help for small businesses.The Treasury Department had previously disclosed that Island Express was expected to receive about $600,000 in virus relief set aside for passenger airlines.
The money for both small businesses and airlines was contained in a $2.2 trillion measure that Congress and the Trump administration approved to help businesses withstand the pandemic.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-BREAD DOUGH
Georgia sub shop workers fired for making bread dough noose
WOODSTOCK, Ga. (AP) — Four employees of a Georgia sandwich shop were fired after making a noose out of bread dough and filming themselves playing with it.
A video posted to social media of the workers at a Jimmy John’s restaurant in Woodstock shows one employee draping the bread dough noose over the neck of another and yanking it. The other workers watch and laugh. A “Happy 4th of July” banner appears across the bottom of the video. The workers who are shown in the video appear to be white.
The Telegraph of Macon reports that the clip was posted on Snapchat and later shared across social media, receiving thousands of views. Customers threatened to boycott the sandwich shop over the incident, calling the video hateful and racist. Jimmy John’s condemned the video in a statement on Twitter.
BIG BUSINESS TAX-SEATTLE
Seattle City Council approves new tax on big business
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has approved adopting a new tax on big businesses, two years after the council repealed a similar tax amid pressure from corporations such as Amazon and the prospect of a voter referendum.
The council voted Monday to approve the tax expected to raise more than $200 million per year.
The new tax called “JumpStart Seattle” by lead sponsor council member Teresa Mosqueda will target companies with many highly paid employees, whereas the 2018 “head tax” would have applied to all employees at large companies.
The council voted 7-2 on the measure, which is expected to raise more than $200 million per year.
Court overturns order to have GM, Fiat Chrysler chiefs meet
DETROIT (AP) — An appeals court says the CEOs of General Motors and Fiat Chrysler don’t have to meet to settle a lawsuit between the two automakers. The court overturned an extraordinary decision by a federal judge in Detroit. The judge had ordered GM’s Mary Barra and FCA’s Mike Manley to get together and settle a dispute over FCA’s alleged role in corruption by union leaders. The appeals court says Judge Paul Borman abused his discretion by singling out Barra and Manley and setting other conditions. GM is suing crosstown rival FCA, alleging that it got an advantage by paying off union leaders to reduce labor costs during contract talks.
Nevada court considering Wynn defamation claim against AP
LAS VEGAS (AP) – The Nevada Supreme Court is being asked to reinstate a defamation lawsuit against The Associated Press based on a story about accounts to Las Vegas police from two women who alleged sexual misconduct by former casino mogul Steve Wynn.
In oral arguments on Monday, a lawyer for Wynn argued that an AP article in February 2018 citing police documents failed to fully describe what he called “fantastical” elements of one woman’s account that would have cast doubt on her claims.
An attorney representing AP argued the published report was fair and the dismissal should stand.