Asian shares slip on pandemic worries despite Wall St rally
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly lower today amid uncertainty about the prospects for a global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Benchmarks in Japan, South Korea, Australia and China fell in afternoon trading. The regional market dips came despite some signs of an economic rebound in data on growth in South Korea and a tick lower in unemployment in Japan.
On Wall Street, stocks ended higher on Thursday after the government reported the economy grew at a 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter. It was the latest indication of recovery from the recession brought on by the pandemic.
Chinese manufacturing rises in April but growth might slow
BEIJING (AP) — Two surveys show Chinese manufacturing expanded in April but growth appeared to be slowing after a rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
Monthly purchasing managers’ indexes issued by business magazine Caixin and a Chinese industry group both rose compared with March. But a production sub-index in the industry group’s survey declined.
Chinese manufacturing and consumer spending have rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels, but the recovery is slowing. Economic growth in the first three months of 2021 slowed to 0.6% over the previous quarter.
Beijing warns fintech firms against anti-monopoly behavior
HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese financial regulators have summoned 13 companies engaged in online finance services, including Tencent and Bytedance, and told them to strengthen anti-monopoly measures. Regulators warned against the “disorderly expansion” of capital.
The government has increased scrutiny of technology and internet companies that have branched into the lucrative financial services sector, offering services such as digital wallets and wealth management services.
As part of their crackdown on online financial services, authorities abruptly halted a $34.5 billion initial public offering by Ant Group, which is affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba. The concern is that reckless growth in online financial services could endanger China’s financial system.
Best Buy president to leave after 17 years at chain
NEW YORK (AP) — Best Buy said Thursday that its president and chief operating officer is stepping down in July after more than 17 years with the chain.
According to a memo to employees, the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics retailer will not replace Mike Mohan, 53. The company says his duties will be spread out among members of the executive team.
According to the memo, some of the executives who directly reported to Mohan will now report to its CEO Corie Barry. They include: Rob Bass, who continues to run the company’s supply network and global property organizations; Damien Harmon, head of omnichannel operations; and Jason Bonfig, chief merchant.
All aboard! Biden to help Amtrak mark 50 years on the rails
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to help the nation’s passenger rail system celebrate 50 years of service.
As a U.S. senator, Biden rode Amtrak between his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., just about every day the Senate was in session. He occasionally rode the train as vice president.
Since it’s harder to ride the train as president, Biden will fly to Philadelphia on Friday for Amtrak’s celebration. His infrastructure plan sets aside $621 billion to improve roads, bridges and public transit, with $80 billion earmarked for Amtrak.
California trucks salmon to Pacific; low river levels blamed
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California officials will again truck millions of young salmon raised at fish hatcheries in the state’s Central Valley agricultural region to the Pacific Ocean because projected river conditions show that the waterways the fish use to travel downstream will be historically low and warm due to increasing drought.
Officials announced the massive trucking operation on Wednesday, saying the effort is aimed at ensuring “the highest level of survival for the young salmon on their hazardous journey to the Pacific Ocean.”
California is now in its second year of drought after a winter with little precipitation. The California Department of Water Resources says it’s the state’s fourth-driest year on record, especially in the northern two-thirds of the state.
Appeals court tells EPA to ban pesticide or decide it’s safe
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly determine whether a pesticide linked to brain damage in children should be banned. The court says the EPA had delayed acting on the widely used bug-killer chlorpyrifos for nearly 14 years.
The EPA has been ordered to act within 60 days. The Obama administration had initiated a ban, but the EPA reversed that decision shortly after President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
The EPA rejected a legal challenge in 2019, saying environmental groups had failed to prove that a ban was warranted. A spokesman says the EPA is reviewing the court decision.
NUCLEAR LAB-NEW MEXICO
US pushes ahead with nuclear plans despite watchdog concerns
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal agency that oversees U.S. nuclear research and bomb-making has signed off on the design and cost range for investments needed for a project to manufacture key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
The plan calls for making at least 30 plutonium cores per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.
The National Nuclear Security Administration says design and construction could cost upwards of $4 billion initially. Lab Director Thom Mason said the goal is not to expand the arsenal but to extend the life of the existing stockpile. The nuclear agency says most of the cores in the stockpile date back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Critics are fearful that the project will result in factories that resemble the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, which had a long history of leaks, fires and environmental violations and needed a $7 billion cleanup that took years to finish.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Disneyland is reopening today, after a 13-month closure.
The iconic theme park in Southern California that was closed under the state’s strict virus rules will swing open its gates, albeit with limited capacity. Also, only in-state visitors are allowed, and hugs and handshakes with Mickey are out.
Industry experts say the reopening could encourage more Californians to travel following a lengthy shut-in in a state that’s now seeing life spring back after a deadly winter virus surge.
California has the country’s lowest rate of new coronavirus cases, and more than half of eligible residents have received a vaccine dose. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he hopes to broadly reopen the state in mid-June.