TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed today after another U.S. rally spurred by positive economic data, even while the coronavirus pandemic has regions around the world battling recessions.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 0.5% higher. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.8%. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped nearly 0.1% while the Shanghai Composite was little changed.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 jumped 0.8% to 3,526.65. The index set several new highs last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered from early losses, climbing 0.8% to 28,645.66.
The Nasdaq composite rose 1.4%, to 11,939.67. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks also bounced back from an sluggish start, adding 16.71 points, or 1.1%, to 1,578.58.
NEW ZEALAND-CYBER ATTACKS
Scale of New Zealand cyber attacks unprecedented: minister
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s justice minister says the nation is confronting cyber attacks on an unprecedented scale, targeting everything from the stock market to the weather service.
Andrew Little says tracking down the perpetrators will be extremely difficult, as the attacks are being routed through thousands of computers. The distributed denial of service attacks stopped share trading for up to several hours at a time over four days last week.
The attacks have also hit the TSB and Westpac banks and the MetService weather organization. Little says he’s confident the country can overcome the attacks.
HHS cancelling ventilator contracts, says stockpile is full
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration announced Tuesday it is canceling some of its remaining orders for ventilators, after rushing to sign nearly $3 billion in emergency contracts as the COVID-19 pandemic surged in the spring.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement affirming that the national stockpile has now reached its maximum capacity for the life-saving breathing machines, with nearly 120,000 available for deployment to state and local health officials if need. Though the orders were billed as a cost-saving measure, Democrats said the cancellations show the White House vastly overspent in its quest to fulfill President Donald Trump’s pledge to make the United States the “King of Ventilators.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASSISTED LIVING
Feds to ship fast COVID-19 tests to assisted living sites
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal official said Tuesday the government plans to ship rapid coronavirus tests to assisted living facilities, moving to fill a testing gap for older adults who don’t need the constant attention of a nursing home.
Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said assisted living facilities will be followed by senior day care centers and home health agencies in getting the tests.
The tests will come from a supply of 150 million ordered from test maker Abbott Laboratories. Abbott’s rapid test, the size of a credit card, is the first that doesn’t require specialty computer equipment to process. It delivers results in about 15 minutes and is priced at $5, significantly lower than similar older tests.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION APPS
Apple, Google build virus-tracing tech directly into phones
UNDATED (AP) — Apple and Google are trying to get more U.S. states to adopt their phone-based approach for tracing and curbing the spread of the coronavirus by building more of the necessary technology directly into phone software.
That could make it much easier for people to get the tool on their phone even if their local public health agency hasn’t built its own compatible app. The tech giants on Tuesday launched the second phase of their “exposure notification” system, designed to automatically alert people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Until now, only a handful of U.S. states have built pandemic apps using the tech companies’ framework, which has seen somewhat wider adoption in Europe and other parts of the world.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-FRONTIER OUTLINES
Colorado attorney general wants Frontier refund probe
Colorado’s attorney general asked the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday to investigate complaints that Frontier Airlines failed to refund the cost of flights cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak and made it virtually impossible for people to use vouchers for other flights during the pandemic.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Attorney General Phil Weiser said his office had received more than 100 complaints from Colorado and 29 other states about the Denver-based low cost carrier since March, more than any other company.
People said that Frontier refused to issue them a refund when flights were canceled because of the pandemic, which Weiser said violated department regulations that refunds are due even when cancellations are due to circumstances beyond airlines’ control.
Drilling, mines, other projects hastened by Trump order
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including oil and gas drilling, hazardous fuel pipelines, wind farms and highway projects in multiple states. That’s according to documents provided to The Associated Press.
The plan to speed up project approvals comes after President Donald Trump in June ordered the Interior Department and other agencies to scale back environmental reviews under special powers he has during the coronavirus emergency. More than 60 projects targeted for expedited environmental reviews were detailed in an attachment to a July 15 letter from Assistant Interior Secretary Katherine MacGregor to White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow. Included on Interior’s list are oil and gas industry proposals such as the 5,000-well Converse gas field in Wyoming, the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas terminal in Oregon, and the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in Virginia.
Report: Algorithm question complicates TikTok sale
NEW YORK (AP) — The Wall Street Journal reports that sale talks for TikTok’s U.S. operations have been complicated by the key question of whether the app’s core algorithms can be included as part of a deal.
Those algorithms decide what videos users see without first requiring them to follow other users or specify their preferences. The Journal report stated the algorithms were considered part of the deal negotiations up until Friday.
That’s when the Chinese government introduced export restrictions on artificial intelligence technology that appear to cover content-recommendation algorithms such as the one powering TikTok. The move followed President Donald Trump’s effort to force a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations by Sept. 20.
Swiss authority opens case against Credit Suisse over spying
GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s financial market oversight body has opened “enforcement proceedings” against Credit Suisse in the wake of a spying scandal that has marred the image of the elite bank.
Today’s move by FINMA, the Swiss market supervisory authority, comes after an independent investigation ordered by the bank unearthed and detailed a scandal involving the spying of a former executive, Iqbal Khan, after he left to join rival bank UBS, and another employee.
FINMA took the action after the conclusion of an independent investigation that it, too, had ordered late last year.