Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks in Asia post gains

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are higher after Wall Street hit a record and Japanese inflation eased. Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney advanced. Hong Kong declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index advanced 0.3%, putting it on track for a weekly gain. Investors are shifting focus from corporate earnings to the longer-term outlook for global economies and whether central banks might feel pressure to cool rising prices by rolling back stimulus faster than planned.

Japan’s government reported October consumer inflation eased to 0.1% over a year earlier from the previous month’s 0.2%.

The U.S. government reported the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for a seventh week to a pandemic low of 268,000.

JAPAN-FINANCIAL PACKAGE

Japan proposes record stimulus package to fix ailing economy

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s prime minister has outlined a record 56 trillion yen, or $490 billion stimulus package, including cash handouts and aid to ailing businesses, to help the economy out of the doldrums worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan includes doling out 100,000 yen, or $880, each in monetary assistance to those 18 years or younger, and aid for ailing businesses. It’s set for Cabinet approval later Friday and needs approval by the parliament when it convenes next month.

Although Japan has never had a lockdown, and infection cases have been kept relatively low, the world’s third largest economy has suffered.

CALIFORNIA-EMISSIONS TESTING

California to expand emissions testing with new $419M center

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — California has a new $419 million research facility that will allow state air quality regulators to expand emissions testing for heavy duty vehicles.

Officials on Thursday dedicated the center in the city of Riverside that will allow for more checks on heavy duty vehicles such as trucks, buses and bulldozers in addition to passenger cars. It replaces a nearly 50-year-old lab in nearby El Monte that state officials credit with helping to detect the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The state of about 40 million people has long been viewed as a clean air regulations leader.

OFFSHORE WIND

Work starting on 1st commercial-scale US offshore wind farm

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has joined with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to mark the groundbreaking of the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the United States.

Haaland said Thursday on Cape Cod that the Vineyard Wind 1 project is the first of many that will contribute to President Joe Biden’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. The farm will generate enough electricity annually to power more than 400,000 homes.

Fishing groups have said the federal government did not adequately account for impacts on their industry.

META-INSTAGRAM-STATE INVESTIGATIONS

State attorneys general probing Instagram’s effects on kids

UNDATED (AP) — A group of state attorneys general are investigating Instagram and its effects on children and young adults, saying its parent company Facebook — recently renamed Meta Platforms — ignored research about the harms it causes to young people.

The investigation is led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. It comes on the heels of damning newspaper reports, first by The Wall Street Journal, that found that the company knew about the harms Instagram can cause to teenagers when it comes to mental health and body image issues.

FLORIST-SAME-SEX COUPLE

Florist in same-sex legal battle pays settlement, retires

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A florist in Washington state who was in an eight-year legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court will retire after settling with the same-sex couple whose wedding job she refused.

The Tri-City Herald reports Barronelle Stutzman of Richland, Washington, announced the settlement Thursday, saying she has paid $5,000 to Robert Ingersoll. She also wished Ingersoll “the very best.”

Ingersoll and husband Curt Freed plan to donate the settlement payment to a local PFLAG chapter, and personally match the $5,000.

According to her attorneys, the agreement allows Stutzman to “preserve her conscience” by not forcing her to act against her Southern Baptist religious beliefs.

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