Update on the latest in business:


Asian stocks fall after Fed discusses cut in US stimulus

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have declined after the Federal Reserve discussed a possible reduction in U.S. stimulus and Japanese officials recommended declaring a coronavirus state of emergency during the Olympics.

Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong retreated while Sydney advanced. Wall Street closed at a record high overnight, boosted by technology, industrial and health care stocks. Japanese officials recommended the state of emergency due to a surge in infections. South Korea reported a one-day record increase of 1,275 new cases.

The Fed released minutes of its latest meeting that gave an upbeat view of the U.S. economic outlook and showed board members discussed how and when they might reduce bond purchases that inject money into the financial system.


Dozens of states target Google’s app store in antitrust suit

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Dozens of states are taking aim at Google in an escalating legal offensive on Big Tech.

A lawsuit filed late Wednesday targets Google’s Play store, where consumers download apps designed for the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones. The complaint represents the fourth major antitrust lawsuit filed against Google by government agencies across the U.S. since last October.

It also comes against a backdrop of proposed laws in Congress tailored to either break up or undermine the power amassed by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon while each have built trillion-dollar empires that reflect the immense popularity of their services.


More states agree to settlement plan for opioid-maker Purdue

UNDATED (AP) — More than a dozen states have dropped their objections to OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s reorganization plan, edging the company closer to resolving its bankruptcy case.

The proposed settlement will transform Purdue into a new entity that helps combat the U.S. opioid epidemic through its own profits.

The agreement from multiple attorneys general, including those who had most aggressively opposed Purdue’s original settlement proposal, was disclosed late Wednesday night in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. To win the support, the company agreed to make more documents public and members of the family that owns it will kick in more money.


Judge sets July hearing on Boy Scouts settlement agreement

DOVER, Del.(AP) — A bankruptcy judge has set a July 29 hearing on the proposed $850 million settlement agreement the Boy Scouts of America have reached with attorneys representing some 60,000 victims of child sex abuse. That gives insurance companies and others who oppose more time to weigh in.

The proposed settlement was reached last week by attorneys for the Boy Scouts, abuse victims, local Boy Scouts councils and lawyers appointed to represent victims who might file future claims.

The Judge pushed the hearing back from July 20.

Attorneys who represent insurance companies, thousands of other abuse victims and local scout sponsoring organizations such as churches said they needed more time to gather information about the agreement and file objections.


US raises concerns on Mexico’s nationalistic energy policy

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. trade representative says she has raised the concerns about Mexico’s energy policies that favor state-owned Mexican companies. Katherine Tai spoke Wednesday following meetings with Mexico’s economy secretary and Canada’s top international trade official to mark the first year of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Tai says that “we are raising our concerns” about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s energy sector policies.

López Obrador has pushed through a law allowing the government to seize private gas stations in case of “imminent danger to national security, energy security or the economy” and give them to the state-owed oil company to run.

His pet projects include building oil refineries in Mexico, and is trying to rein in foreign companies that built wind and solar farms to produce electricity in Mexico. He has also put on hold long-anticipated bidding on oil exploration contracts.


Mexico asks US retailer to stop copying Indigenous design

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Institute of Indigenous Peoples is calling on the U.S. retailer Anthropologie to stop copying a design used by the Mixe (MEE’-heh) Indigenous community.

The institute says in a Wednesday statement that Anthropologie’s “Marka embroidered shorts” copy a Mixe embroidery design from the impoverished village in Southern Mexico’s.

The shorts bear a pattern of blue flowers or stars that the villagers say copies a traditional blouse design. The institute says the Mixes did not give permission for their design to be used and urges Anthropologie to stop selling the shorts.

Anthropologie’s parent, Urban Outfitters Inc., has not comment.


Michael Avenatti faces sentencing in Nike extortion scheme

NEW YORK (AP) — A California lawyer who publicly sparred with then-President Donald Trump before criminal fraud charges disrupted his rapid ascent to fame faces sentencing today after a jury concluded he tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

Michael Avenatti is scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court.

Avenatti appeared regularly on cable news programs in 2018 at the height of his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Trump. The 50-year-old Avenatti was convicted early last year. Prosecutors have requested a “very substantial” sentence. Avenatti’s lawyers say six months in prison is enough.


Free samples are back, but with safety in mind

NEW YORK (AP) — With vaccinations rolling out and the threat of COVID-19 easing in the U.S., stores are feeling confident enough to revive the longstanding tradition of offering free samples.

For customers, sampling makes it fun to shop and discover new items, not to mention getting all the freebies. For retailers, they’re critical tools to keep shoppers coming back and battle against online retailers like Amazon.

The NPD Group says food sampling converts browsers into buyers at a 20% higher rate than if customers weren’t allowed to test. The conversion rate is 30% higher when beauty products are sampled.

But while sampling is back, it’s not clear if everyone is ready to bite. With that in mind, some retailers are putting various safety protocols in place to ease concerns.

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