Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares boosted by stronger China factory data

BEIJING (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher today, buoyed by further signs of recovery in China’s manufacturing sector.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 1.4%, while South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.2%, while the Shanghai Composite inched less than 0.1% lower. Shares slipped 0.1% in India but were higher in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Last week on Wall Street, the S&P 500 dropped 1.2% to 3,269.96, ending the week with a 5.6% loss, its worst in seven months. Sharp drops in big technology stocks drove much of the selling, reflecting worries that expectations built too high for some of the market’s biggest stars, including Apple and Amazon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% to 26,501.60. The Nasdaq composite gave up 2.5% to 10,911.59.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

Construction spending figures released today

UNDATED (AP) — The Commerce Department issues its September snapshot of construction spending today.

Spending increased 1.4% in August, led by a surge in single-family home construction. Strong demand for single-family homes has helped fuel new home construction. Meanwhile, spending on hotels, office buildings, shopping centers and other nonresidential projects has declined as the pandemic leads to more online shopping and working from home, and less travel.

US ELECTION-EUROPEAN TARIFFS

EU faces knotty trade fights with US — no matter who wins

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European officials and businesses are closely watching the U.S. election to see which way U.S. trade policy goes. Donald Trump’s America First tariffs on steel and aluminum provoked Europe to retaliate against U.S. bourbon and motorcycles. Europeans’ views are closer to Joe Biden’s.

But analysts are cautioning that many trade irritants will be tough to solve no matter who wins. A sweeping free trade deal to lower tariffs probably isn’t in the cards. Some of Europe’s stances will present difficulties for any president — like proposed European taxes on Google and Amazon.

Tit-for-tat tariffs over the past four years have affected companies and people making and selling a whole host of goods.

Among them are German makers of sweet biscuits, who have been sideswiped by tariffs imposed by the U.S. after the World Trade Organization ruled European governments had broken the rules with subsidies for Airbus. The German confectionery association, known by its German acronym BDSI, says that affected producers have lost 30% of their export volume in the first half of this year.

LAOS-STARBUCKS

Starbucks targets new market, in coffee exporting Laos

BANGKOK (AP) — Starbucks says it plans to open an outlet in Laos as it expands its more than 10,000 stores across Asia. The company says it plans to open the shop in the Laotian capital (Vientiane) by next summer. The outlet will be operated by Coffee Concepts (Laos) Ltd., a part of Maxim’s Caterers Ltd.

Laos Starbucks says it wants to use its global scale to have a positive impact and career opportunities in the impoverished, landlocked country bordered by Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

Many Laotians drink powdered coffee drinks that include milk and sugar, as is true across much of Asia, but the country of 7.2 million is a coffee exporter and has its own artisanal coffee roasters and shops.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Laos was drawing growing numbers of foreign tourists, with more than 4 million visiting in 2018. Local incomes have been rising, but still average around $300 a month.

The company says it intends to take a “locally relevant approach” for its customers.

GOOGLE-SMALL BUSINESS

Google ad costs, not its alleged monopoly, irks businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Monopoly or not, small business owners’ biggest complaint about Google is that its advertising policies favor companies with big marketing budgets. Companies covet the top spots in Google search results — the first page of rankings, and the top of subsequent pages.

But if too many companies are interested, the cost of one of these spots can jump out of reach for a small business, just like the price for prime time TV commercials. Google controls about 90% of global internet searches.

The Justice Department sued Google last week, charging that it uses monopoly power in search to squelch competition.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-PLASMA CONTRACT

Trump admin. funds plasma company based in owner’s condo

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press investigation has found that the Trump administration awarded emergency coronavirus funds to a well-connected Republican donor’s company to test a possible COVID-19-fighting blood plasma technology. In discussing the contract, the administration noted Plasma Technologies LLC’s “manufacturing facilities” in Charleston, South Carolina.

The AP investigation found that Plasma Tech has no manufacturing facilities in Charleston. Instead, the company exists within the luxury condo of its owner, Eugene Zurlo.

Now, the 83-year-old Zurlo’s company may be in line for as much as $65 million in taxpayer dollars.

And it’s another in a series of contracts awarded despite concerns over their proposals voiced by government scientists. The others include an $21 million study of the heartburn drug Pepcid as a COVID therapy, and more than a half-billion dollars to ApiJect Systems America, a startup with an unapproved medicine injection technology and no factory to manufacture the devices. In addition, a government whistleblower claimed that a $1.6 billion vaccine contract to Novavax Inc. was made over objections of scientific staff.

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