Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares extend rally after S&P 500 nears record

UNDATED (AP) — Shares advanced across Asia today after Wall Street closed broadly higher on encouraging economic reports, starting off August by closing within 3% of the record high it set in February.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.8% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 2.2%. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 jumped 2.1% and the Kospi in Seoul picked up 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.5% higher.

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Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 added another 0.7% onto its four-month winning streak, closing within 3% of the record high it set in February, at 3,294.61.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9% to 26,664.40, while the gains for tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq composite 1.5% higher, to 10,902.80, another record.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIA

Manila back under lockdown as virus cases surge

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the Philippine capital today and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.

Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorized businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were cancelled, and night curfews will return in places.

Crowds trooped to some supermarkets Monday to stock up on food after the hasty return to a lockdown sparked panic-buying.

The lockdown is milder than was first one imposed, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently. It is being imposed in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces for two weeks.

TRUMP-TELEHEALTH

Trump wants broader role for telehealth services in Medicare

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is taking steps to give telehealth a broader role under Medicare, with an executive order that serves as a call for Congress to make doctor visits via personal technology a permanent fixture of the program.

The order applies to one segment of Medicare recipients — people living in rural communities. But administration officials said it’s intended as a signal to Congress that Trump is ready to sign more significant legislation that would permanently open up telehealth as an option for all people with Medicare.

The telehealth measure directs the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies, to work together to promote the availability of services in rural communities.

BORDER WALL-TEXAS

Builder pitched to Trump wins new border wall contract

HOUSTON (AP) — A construction company whose CEO has made direct appeals on Fox News to build President Donald Trump’s border wall won another major contract Monday, this time for nearly $300 million of new barriers in South Texas.

Fisher Industries was awarded a $289 million contract for 17 miles in Laredo, Texas, a border city of 250,000 people next to the Rio Grande, the river separating Texas and Mexico.

The North Dakota-based company had already received $1.7 billion in two contracts elsewhere on the border. The announcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection came the same day as a court-ordered inspection of a 3-mile section of private border wall further down the Rio Grande. Fisher Industries installed fencing just 35 feet from the river, much closer than the government normally builds walls near the Rio Grande due to concerns about erosion and re-routing water in potential violation of treaties with Mexico.

Fisher built the fence as a showcase of his company’s wall technology for roughly $40 million. After initial reports of erosion this summer, Trump disavowed the project in a tweet and claimed it was done “to make me look bad.”

FAA-BOEING PLANE

FAA spells out design changes needed in grounded Boeing jet

UNDATED (AP) — Federal regulators on Monday outlined a list of design changes they will require in the Boeing 737 Max to fix safety issues that were discovered after two deadly crashes that led to the worldwide grounding of the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed software changes to a flight-control system implicated in the crashes. It also plans to require a warning light to pilots that wasn’t working on the planes that crashed, changes to on-board computers, and the rerouting of some wiring.

The document and an accompanying 95-page summary, following an 18-month review, provide the most detailed look yet at the FAA’s examination of factors that contributed to the crashes, which killed 346 people.

It is not clear when the FAA will lift its March 2019 order grounding all Max jets, which followed similar orders by regulators in the rest of the world. Boeing officials said last week they hope to win regulatory approval to resume deliveries of completed Max jets in the fourth quarter of this year.

FISH FARMS-LAWSUIT

Appeals court: NOAA can’t make rules for offshore fish farms

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a decision that throws out rules regulating fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in deciding that the law granting authority over fisheries to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not also let the agency set rules for offshore fish farms. The farms use enormous open-topped nets or submersible pens to raise huge numbers of fish, including tuna, salmon, seabass and cobia, out in open water.

The government says fish farming, including that on the open sea, is vital to seafood production and can both provide jobs and protect species and habitats. Opponents say huge numbers of fish confined in nets out in the ocean could hurt ocean health and native fish stocks, and the farms would drive down prices and devastate commercial fishing communities.

GOOGLE-BUDGET PHONE

Google unveils budget Pixel phone as pandemic curbs spending

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) – Google has started selling a long-delayed budget smartphone boasting the same high-quality camera and several other features available in fancier Pixel models that cost hundreds of dollars more.

The Pixel 4a unveiled Monday will be available Aug. 20 after months of delay caused by supply problems triggered by the pandemic.

It will cost $349, a $50 discount from a cheap Pixel released last year. It’s also a major markdown from other higher-end models in the existing product line-up that start at $799. The next versions of Google’s top-of-the-line Pixel phones will be released sometime this fall, Google said, without revealing their price.

The budget-minded Pixel 4a is coming out four months after Apple released a discount iPhone, the SE, priced at $399. The low price helped spur iPhone sales at a time of soaring unemployment, as the economy plunged into a deep recession that is causing millions of households to curb their spending so they can pay rent and buy food.

BRITAIN-EARNS-BP

BP to cut dividends as it prepares for fossil fuel decline

LONDON (AP) — BP plc says it plans to slash dividends as the global oil company prepares for declining sales of fossil fuels by boosting investment in alternative energy projects.

London-based BP says it plans to increase spending on low-carbon technology, including renewable energy projects, 10-fold to $5 billion a year over the next decade. The company expects oil and gas production to drop by about 40% over the same period.

BP announces the shift as it reports a second-quarter operating loss of $6.68 billion as the COVID-19 pandemic cuts oil prices and demand for energy.

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