Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares extend rally; S&P 500 within 1% of record

UNDATED (AP) — Shares advanced in Asia today, extending another rally that took the S&P 500 to within striking distance of its all-time high set in February.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.9% and Hong Kong gained more than 2%, even as the tally of confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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The gains followed President Donald Trump’s announcement over the weekend of stopgap moves to aid the economy, after talks on Capitol Hill for a bigger rescue package faltered.

In South Korea, the Kospi picked up 1.4% and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite index gave up earlier gains, slipping 0.2%.

India’s Sensex gained 0.8%. Shares rose in Taiwan but fell in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.3%, to 3,360.47, after wavering between small gains and losses. The benchmark index is now within 1% of its last record high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.3% to 27,791.44. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.4%, to 10,968.36.

TRUMP-SOCIAL SECURITY

Dems say Trump’s payroll tax break weakens Social Security

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s move to defer Social Security payroll taxes could be taking him into treacherous political territory.

His directive — aimed at boosting an economy shaken by the coronavirus pandemic — doesn’t affect retirement benefits but impacts how they’re paid for. Democrats seized on it Monday as a signal that Trump would cut the social safety net and break a promise he made as a candidate in 2016 not to touch Social Security and Medicare. Some nonpartisan experts also expressed concerns.

Deferral of the 6.2% payroll tax on employees for the last three months of this year could mean that up to $100 billion in payments to the Social Security Trust Fund would be delayed. That’s according to an updated estimate by the nonpartisan Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for reducing government deficits.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT-STATES

States strain to carry out Trump order on unemployment aid

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — Governors and state labor department officials are scrambling to determine whether they can implement President Donald Trump’s executive order to partially extend unemployment assistance payments to millions of Americans struggling to find work in the pandemic-scarred economy.

Trump’s order allocates $44 billion in federal dollars from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to boost unemployment aid for the jobless and calls on states to kick in roughly $15 billion. The Trump administration says states can pull from federal coronavirus relief funds already distributed to states earlier in the crisis.

But some states have already fully allocated that money for other critical needs.

PENTAGON-5G

Pentagon offers military airwaves for 5G wireless networks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon plans to free up a big chunk of its military airwaves in the U.S. for high-speed internet service, part of a broader push to get ahead of China in the deployment of 5G wireless technology.

The Trump administration announced Monday that it has identified radio spectrum used for radar defense systems that can be shared with commercial telecommunications providers without compromising national security.

5G is a new technical standard for the “fifth generation” of wireless networks that promises faster speeds; less lag, or “latency,” when connecting to the network; and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down. 5G networks will ideally be better able to handle more users, lots of sensors and heavy traffic.

AIR TRAVEL-GUNS

Air traffic is down, gun seizures up at US airports

DALLAS (AP) — With air traffic nearing a five-month high, airport security is finding guns in passenger carry-on bags at three times the rate recorded before the pandemic. And 80% of the guns are loaded.

The discoveries at airports comes at a time when U.S. gun sales are surging, and analysts believe many of those purchases are being made by first-time buyers.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, officers seized just over 300 guns in July, or 15.3 guns for every million people screened, compared with 5.1 per million people in July of last year.

CALIFORNIA-RIDE-HAILING LAWSUIT

California judge rules Uber, Lyft drivers are employees

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft to treat their California drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. Such a shift that would guarantee benefits like overtime, sick leave and expense reimbursement for workers who make up much of the freewheeling gig economy.

But the ruling from San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan P. Schulman won’t take effect right away as both Uber and Lyft said Monday they will immediately appeal to a higher court, which could put the ruling on hold as the case continues. Advocates praised the ruling as a milestone in their fight to apply traditional worker protections to a fast-growing segment of the labor force.

GM-FIAT CHRYSLER

Fiat Chrysler calls GM’s bribery allegations ‘preposterous’

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles say in court documents that allegations by General Motors that FCA bribed union officials are “preposterous” and read like a script from a “third-rate spy movie.”.

GM, in a motion last week, alleged that Fiat Chrysler used foreign bank accounts to bribe union officials so they would stick GM with higher labor costs. FCA called those claims “defamatory and baseless.”

GM alleged in its motion that FCA spent millions on bribes by stashing the money in foreign accounts. The assertion that there is new evidence came as GM asked a federal judge to reconsider his July dismissal of a federal racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler.

In trying to revive the lawsuit, GM alleged that bribes were paid to two former United Auto Workers presidents, as well as a former union vice president and at least one former GM employee.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

UK employment falls by biggest quarterly amount since 2009

LONDON (AP) — Official figures show that the number of people in employment in the U.K. fell by 220,000 in the three months after the country was put into lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

That quarterly decline, which took the total number of people in employment to 32.92 million, is the biggest since the deep recession in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

So far, Britain has been partly spared the sharp rises in unemployment seen in the United States, for example, because of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which pays the majority of the salaries of workers who have not been fired.

CHINA-HONG KONG

Hong Kong residents buy newspaper to support free press

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong residents are buying up copies of the Apple Daily newspaper in support for press freedom, one day after police arrested the owner of the paper and raided its premises under a new national security law.

One buyer says, “The government is suppressing freedom of the press.”

The arrests of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and activist Agnes Chow have stoked fears that authorities are using the new law to suppress dissent and free speech in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

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