Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mixed as investors mull US data

UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares are mixed after a hodge-podge of economic data led Wall Street to close mostly lower.

Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul but fell in Shanghai and Sydney.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each lost about 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to eke out a gain of 0.1%. More stocks fell than rose in the S&P 500, and most of the index’s sectors took slight losses. Industrial and health care companies did the worst, while some retailers rose after the government reported a surprise gain in retail sales last month.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.33% from 1.30% a day earlier.

CONGRESS-DEBT LIMIT

McConnell unmoved on debt limit, risking turmoil for Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has been enlisting one emissary after another to convince Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to help raise the federal debt limit. It’s not working.

Despite the high-level conversations, including a call from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the GOP leader is digging in and playing political hardball. He’s telling all who will listen that it’s up to the Democrats, who have narrow control of Congress, to take the unpopular vote over federal borrowing on their own.

McConnell’s stance is deepening a political standoff and risking turbulence in the financial markets that could ripple into the broader economy. His refusal to rally Republican votes leaves Democrats with only tough choices as they rush to ensure the nation does not default on any of its accumulated debt, which now stands at $28.4 trillion.

CHINA-PACIFIC TRADE GROUP

China applies to join Pacific trade pact abandoned by Trump

BEIJING (AP) — China has applied to join an 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade group in an effort to increase its influence over international policies.

The Commerce Ministry says Beijing submitted an application to New Zealand, which acts as a representative of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The CPTPP previously was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was promoted by then-President Barack Obama as part of Washington’s increased emphasis on relations with Asia. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, pulled out of the group in 2017. The CPTPP, which took effect in 2018, includes agreements on market access, movement of labor and government procurement.

HUNGARY-BITCOIN STATUE

Hungary: Statue honoring mysterious Bitcoin founder unveiled

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A bronze statue was unveiled in Hungary’s capital on Thursday which its creators say is the first in the world to pay homage to the anonymous creator of the Bitcoin digital currency.

Erected in a business park near the Danube River in Budapest, the bust sits atop a stone plinth engraved with the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of the mysterious developer of Bitcoin whose true identity is unknown.

The featureless face of the bust, wrapped in a hoodie emblazoned with the Bitcoin logo, is heavily polished to make it reflective like a mirror in which viewers can see themselves. Its creators say they hoped to convey the basic idea of Bitcoin: that it belongs to everyone and no one at the same time.

CHINA-ONLINE GAME RULES

China sets up platform to police gaming firm violations

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese regulators have set up a platform that allows the public to report on gaming companies they believe are violating restrictions on online game times for children.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration set up the platform. It empowers holders of Chinese ID cards to report violations and furnish proof. This follows China’s decision to impose the time limits of just three hours a week for minors to combat internet games addiction in children.

Gaming companies are expected to enforce the limit of 1 hour of online games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. An earlier limit allowed 90 minutes per day.

BRITAIN-PIERS MORGAN

Piers Morgan to launch new TV show in deal with News Corp

LONDON (AP) British presenter Piers Morgan will join News Corp and Fox News Media and host a TV show that will air in the U.S., Britain and Australia. News Corp executive chair Rupert Murdoch said Thursday that Morgan is “the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire.”

The show is billed as the primetime draw on the new channel talkTV, expected to launch in the U.K. in early 2022. It will also air on the video streaming service FOX Nation in the U.S. and on Sky News Australia.

Morgan left Britain’s ITV in March after sparking a record 50,000 viewer complaints with controversial comments about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Morgan said he did not believe Meghan’s claims — made during a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey — about how the monarchy allegedly ignored her struggles with mental health.

THAILAND-TAXI GARDENS

Idled Thai taxis go green with mini-gardens on car roofs

BANGKOK (AP) — Taxi fleets in Thailand are giving new meaning to the term “rooftop garden,” as they utilize the roofs of cabs idled by the coronavirus crisis to serve as small vegetable plots.

Workers from two taxi cooperatives assembled the miniature gardens this week using black plastic garbage bags stretched across bamboo frames, on top of which they added soil in which a variety of crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans, were planted.

The result looks more like an eye-grabbing art installation than a car park. That’s partly the point — to draw attention to the plight of taxi drivers and operators who have been badly hit by coronavirus lockdown measures.

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