Asian shares mixed on US-China tensions, Wall Street gains
TOKYO (AP) —Asian shares are mixed today as investors eyeball surging coronavirus cases in the region.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 2.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was flat. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1% higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.8%, while the Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.4%.
On Friday, Wall Street closed outs its fourth straight winning month as Big Tech shares continued to steamroll through the pandemic. The S&P 500 rose 24.90 points, or 0.8%, to 3,271.12 following blowout profit reports from Apple and several other tech titans.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down as many as 300 points before finishing the day up 114.67, or 0.4%, at 26,428.32. The Nasdaq composite jumped 157.64, or 1.5%, to 10,745.27 on the strength for tech stocks, which also accelerated in the last hour of trading.
COVID relief bill remains up in air as negotiations resume
WASHINGTON (AP) — Slow, grinding negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill are set to resume, but the path forward promises to be challenging.
Both the Trump administration negotiating team and top Capitol Hill Democrats reported progress over the weekend even as they highlighted their differences.
Ahead of Monday’s talks, all sides predict a long slog ahead despite the lapse of a $600-per-week supplemental COVID jobless benefit, the beginning of school season, and the call of lawmakers’ cherished August recess.
Several more days of talks are expected, if not more.
Microsoft confirms talks seeking to buy US arm of TikTok
NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is confirming that it is in talks with Chinese company ByteDance to acquire the U.S. arm of its popular video app TikTok and has discussed with President Donald Trump his concerns about security and censorship.
The deal it seeks would result in Microsoft owning and operating the TikTok service in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The company says that it expects those acquisition talks to conclude by Sept. 15.
The Trump administration has raised a broad array of national security risks it says are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok’s catchy videos and ease of use has made it popular, and it says it has tens of millions of users in the U.S. and hundreds of millions globally.
TikTok’s Chinese ownership has raised concern about the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials as well as censorship of videos critical of the Chinese government. TikTok says it does not censor videos and it would not give the Chinese government access to U.S. user data.
Ransomware feared as possible saboteur for November election
WASHINGTON (AP) — As state and local governments brace for November’s election, federal authorities are sounding the alarm about the potential for a well-timed ransomware attack that could block access to voter registration data and paralyze critical election operations. Such attacks lock data until a payment is made.
They have long targeted local governments and companies, but officials view election systems as attractive targets themselves — or potentially collateral damage in an attack aimed at another part of a network.
Even if a ransomware attack fails to disrupt elections, it could nonetheless rattle confidence in the vote.
With loan money gone, restaurants are at mercy of coronvirus
NEW YORK (AP) — Many restaurants that got coronavirus relief loans have spent the money and now find themselves in the same precarious position as in the pandemic’s early days. Owners are still struggling with revenue far below normal, and that has forced them to again lay off staffers.
With that Paycheck Protection Program money now spent, many restaurants are in the same precarious position they were during the outbreak’s early days: Thousands of restaurants are being forced to close down again on mandates from state and local officials combating the virus’s resurgence, particularly in the South and West.
Even in parts of the country where the outbreak appears contained, revenue is far below normal because social distancing requirements — and wary diners — meaning fewer tables, fewer customers and limited hours.
Congress is debating another relief bill that potentially will have more help for small businesses; while restaurant owners will welcome the aid, they will remain at the mercy of the virus that has decimated their business.
Lord & Taylor is latest retailer to file for bankruptcy
NEW YORK (AP) — New York landmark retailer Lord & Taylor has filed for bankruptcy.
The company, which was sold to the French rental clothing company Le Tote Inc. last year, filed Sunday for bankruptcy protection in the Eastern Court of Virginia.
Like many retailers, it was already struggling with the shift to online shopping even before the pandemic struck this spring.
The company was founded as a dry goods store in 1826. Last year, it sold its flagship building on New York’s Fifth Avenue after more than a century in the 11-story building. There are several dozen Lord & Taylor stores across the country.
HSBC says net profit plunged 96% in 2Q as pandemic took hold
LONDON (AP) — Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC, is reporting that its net profit plummeted 96% in the second quarter of this year as lower interest rates combined with the downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic stunted business activity.
The bank says its net profit was $192 million in the April-June quarter, down from $4.37 billion in the same period a year earlier. Near-zero interest rates meant to help businesses keep running with cheap credit are squeezing margins for lenders.
The bank forecasts expected credit losses of $8 billion-$13 billion in 2020. London-based HSBC has most of its business in Asia.