Update on the latest in business:


Asian shares mixed on report of more US sanctions on China

UNDATED (AP) — Shares are mostly lower in Asia following a report that the U.S. is preparing to slap sanctions on a dozen more Chinese officials, ratcheting up tensions with Beijing.

That news coincided with data showing China logged a record high $75 billion trade surplus in November.

Benchmarks dropped today in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai but rose in Sydney. Stocks hit record highs on Wall Street on Friday as traders took a discouraging jobs report as a sign that Congress may finally move on delivering more aid for the pandemic-stricken economy. Investors are banking on hopes that roll outs of coronavirus vaccines will put the global economy on the path toward normalcy sometime next year.


UK gears up for huge vaccination plan watched by the world

LONDON (AP) — Shipments of the coronavirus vaccine developed by American drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have been delivered in the U.K. in super-cold containers. The deliveries arrived Sunday, two days before it goes public in an immunization program that is being closely watched around the world.

Tuesday will be the start of Britain’s biggest-ever immunization program involving around 800,000 doses of the vaccine.

Britain’s’ Health Secretary has reportedly dubbed Tuesday “V-Day,” a nod to triumphs in World War II.

Last week, the U.K. became the first country to authorize the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for emergency use. In trials, the vaccine was shown it has 95% efficacy.


China prepares large-scale rollout of coronavirus vaccines

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestic-made coronavirus vaccines, though the government has yet to say how well they work or how they may be distributed to its 1.4 billion people.

During a U.N. meeting last week, the Chinese foreign minster said developers are speeding up final testing as Britain issued approval for emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine candidate and providers scrambled to set up distribution.

Even without final approval, more than 1 million health care workers and others in China have received experimental vaccines. Chinese developers are testing at least five vaccines in more than a dozen countries.


Biden picks Calif. AG Becerra to lead HHS, pandemic response

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response.

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.

Separately, Biden has picked a Harvard infectious disease expert, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Mastercard, Visa investigate Pornhub business relationship

UNDATED (AP) — Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after a prominent newspaper columnist alleged that the pornographic website shows videos of rape and underage sex.

Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at The New York Times, wrote Friday that Pornhub carries rape scenes and other examples of explicit video taken without consent of the participants.

The online payment service PayPal last year stopped processing payments to Pornhub, which is owned by the pornography conglomerate MindGeek. In response to the story, Visa and Mastercard are investigating Pornhub practices.

American Express said company policy prohibits the Amex card from being used on “digital adult content websites.’’



China trade surplus hits record $75B as Nov exports soar

BEIJING (AP) — China has reported its politically sensitive trade surplus soared to a record $75.4 billion in November as exports surged 21% over a year earlier, propelled by strong demand from American consumers.

Exports to the United States rose 46% despite lingering tariff hikes in a trade war with Washington. Total exports rose to $268 billion, up from October’s 11.4% growth. Imports gained 5% to $192.6 billion, up from the previous month’s 4.7%, reflecting the growing strength of China’s economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Exporters are benefiting from China’s relatively early reopening after the Communist Party declared the disease under control in March while foreign competitors still are hampered by anti-virus controls.


German industrial production beats forecasts for October

BERLIN (AP) — Official data show that industrial production in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, was up 3.2% in October compared with the previous month. It was the second set of figures for October to beat economists’ expectations.

The Economy Ministry says that the sixth consecutive monthly rise in production was fueled in part by a large increase in the important auto sector. Economists had expected a 1.6% gain.

The figures point at least to a promising start to the fourth quarter. However, sharp rises in coronavirus infections led to partial shutdowns in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in November.

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