Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian markets lower after Wall St declines for third week

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are lower today after Wall Street declined for a third straight week and Britain reported a rise in coronavirus infections.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.9%. The Kospi in Seoul was up less than 0.4% while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 sank 0.6%.

On Wall Street Friday, the S&P 500 declined to 3,319.47. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9% to 27,657.42. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.1% to 10,793.28.

TRUMP-JAPAN-SUGA

Japan’s Suga holds 1st phone talks with Trump as leader

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held his first talks with President Donald Trump since Suga took office, a diplomatic phone call that was one of his first as the country’s leader and one that highlights the close tie between the two allies.

Suga was elected as Japan’s new prime minister last Wednesday, replacing Shinzo Abe, who forged close personal ties and regularly held meetings and phone calls with Trump.

Abe stepped down due to ill health after nearly eight years in office. Suga said he told Trump “the Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of regional peace and stability, and we agreed to continue to coordinate closely.”

Known for his political prowess on domestic issues, Suga has hardly traveled overseas and his diplomatic skills are largely unknown, though he is expected to pursue Abe’s priorities.

IRAN-US

Iran dismisses US efforts for UN sanctions as currency drops

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president has dismissed U.S. efforts to restore all U.N. sanctions on his country, as mounting economic pressure from Washington has pushed the local currency down to its lowest level ever.

Iran’s currency dropped to 272,500 to the U.S. dollar on Sunday at money exchange shops across Tehran. The rial has lost more than 30% of its value to the dollar since June. Sweeping U.S. sanctions on Iran continue to crush its ability to sell oil globally.

The U.S. move to try to restore U.N. sanctions has been rejected as illegal by most of the rest of the world, including other Security Council nations.

WECHAT BAN-RULING

Judge agrees to delay US government restrictions on WeChat

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has approved a request from a group of U.S. WeChat users to delay looming federal government restrictions that could effectively make the popular app nearly impossible to use.

In a ruling dated Saturday, Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in California said the government’s actions would affect users’ First Amendment rights, as an effective ban on the app would remove their platform for communication.

WeChat is a messaging-focused app popular with many Chinese-speaking Americans that serves as a lifeline to friends, family, customers and business contacts in China. It’s owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.

The group of WeChat users requested an injunction after the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it would bar WeChat from U.S. app stores and keep it from accessing essential internet services in the country beginning Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

GERMANY-PUBLIC SECTOR STRIKES

Public sector strikes to hit Germany next week over wages

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing public sector workers in Germany says it will start staging short-term warning strikes after the latest round of wage negotiations failed to produce an agreement.

The Ver.di union, which represents around 2.3 million federal and local employees, said Sunday that strikes will start Tuesday. Warning strikes are a typical tactic in German labor negotiations and typically last between several hours to a day or two.

The union is demanding a 4.8% raise for its workers over the next year.

Government negotiators are seeking a longer-term solution and say the demands are too high with the German economy struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

RARE WILDFLOWER-PLANTS-DESTROYED

Massive damage of rare plants probed at Nevada mine site

RENO, Nev. (AP) — State and federal authorities are investigating the mysterious loss of a significant swath of a rare desert wildflower that’s being considered for federal protection at a contentious mine site in Nevada.

The Australian mining company, Ioneer Ltd., and state biologists are investigating the unprecedented incident 200 miles southeast of Reno. They believe small mammals most likely caused the damage to thousands of plants at the only place Tiehm’s buckwheat is known to exist on earth.

Conservationists suspect a more sinister scenario. They think somebody dug up as many as 17,000 plants while U.S. wildlife officials are considering declaring the plant endangered.

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