Update on the latest in business:


Asian stocks plunge on US-China trade war worries

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets plunged today after President Donald Trump’s surprise threat of tariff hikes on additional Chinese imports.

Tokyo’s main market index fell 2.5% and Hong Kong’s benchmark lost 2.3%. Markets in Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul also declined.


Trump’s announcement of 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods, due to take effect Sept. 1, surprised investors after the White House said Beijing promised to buy more farm goods. That came as their latest round of trade talks ended in Shanghai.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 fell for a fourth day, losing 0.9% to 2,953.56.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1% to 26,583.42. The Nasdaq composite ended 0.8% lower at 8,111.12.


Business and economic reports scheduled for today.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ There are two reports from the Commerce Department set to be released today: One report features international trade data for June: and the other covers June’s factory orders.

The Labor Department will also report the employment data for July.

Another big earning report is due out today.

Exxon Mobil Corp. reports quarterly results before the market opens.


US is thought to have added a solid 163,000 jobs in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers are thought to have sustained a steady pace of hiring in July, a reassuring sign for an economy that’s endured a series of ups and downs.

Data provider FactSet says economists have forecast that the government will report that 163,000 jobs were added in July. This would be roughly in line with the average monthly gain of 172,000 so far this year, though below the 224,000 jobs added in June.

The unemployment rate is believed to have remained at 3.7% for a second straight month, close to a 50-year low.

The economy’s overall growth, along with consumer spending, has been solid. But business investment has been declining, home sales have weakened and manufacturers have shown signs of struggling.


Budget, debt deal clears Senate, heads to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bipartisan budget and debt deal has passed the Senate and is heading to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

Thursday’s vote addresses a worrisome set of Washington deadlines as Trump’s allies and adversaries set aside ideology in exchange for relative fiscal peace and stability.

The measure would permit the government to resume borrowing to pay all its bills and would set an overall $1.37 trillion limit on agency budgets approved by Congress annually. It also would remove the prospect of a government shutdown in October and automatic spending cuts.

But a tea party senator, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, says the legislation really is a spectacular failure because it will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the country’s spiraling debt.


Texas joins states’ lawsuit to block T-Mobile-Sprint deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Texas is joining more than a dozen states suing to stop T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, arguing that the deal is bad for consumers because it would reduce competition.

The attorney general for Texas is the first Republican in the group, which now consists of 14 states and the District of Columbia.

California, New York and now Texas are leading the states’ case. The states are not satisfied with the Justice Department’s approval of the deal last week.

The federal government’s conditions would make satellite-TV company Dish a new U.S. wireless provider. Critics worry that because Dish would still be a weaker competitor than Sprint currently is, the deal would still lead to higher prices and fewer consumer perks.

T-Mobile says it won’t finalize the deal while litigation is ongoing.


Pentagon is reviewing the ‘war cloud’ contract Amazon wants

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Pentagon says new Secretary of Defense Mike Esper is reviewing the bid process for the military’s $10 billion cloud-computing contract.

President Donald Trump has criticized the process, citing complaints from other companies, as potentially biased toward Amazon. The e-commerce giant and Microsoft have been competing for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure plan, or JEDI.

In a statement, Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith says that no decision will be made on the program until the review is complete. Esper has previously said he wants to take a hard look at the JEDI contract.

The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources, that the White House ordered the Pentagon review. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Post.


Lowe’s cuts US store jobs

UNDATED (AP) _ Lowe’s Co. is laying off thousands of employees at its U.S. stores as it outsources some of their duties to outside companies.

The home-improvement chain, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, declined to say exactly how many employees are affected. But The Wall Street Journal reported that thousands of employees were told this week that their jobs have been eliminated, which the company confirms.

Lowe’s spokeswoman Jackie Pardini Hartzell said Thursday that the cuts are coming as the company moves to a third-party assemblers and facility services to allow store associates to spend more time on the sales floor serving customers.

Lowe’s, under its relatively new CEO Marvin Ellison, is trying to return its focus to its home improvement chain and streamline its business.


Pompeo takes aim at China after Trump tariff hit

BANGKOK (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hitting out at China for predatory trade practices and human rights abuses that harm economic development.

A day after President Donald Trump intensified pressure on China by announcing the imposition of new U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, Pompeo told an audience in Bangkok today that Asian nations are best served by private American rather than “state-led” investment. Pompeo told the Siam Society that “trade and freedom” are the keys to development and urged countries in the region to shun China until it reforms its practices.

Pompeo says the current unrest in Hong Kong is indicative of problems caused by authoritarian rule. And, he notes that China’s economy had entered a “new normal of slower growth.”


Japan OKs removing South Korea from preferred trade status

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has approved the removal of South Korea from a “whitelist” of countries with preferential trade status, escalating tensions between the neighbors.

Friday’s Cabinet decision expanding controls over exports of sensitive materials takes effect on Aug. 23.

It follows an earlier requirement that Japanese companies’ exports to South Korea be approved on a case-by-case basis for three materials used in semiconductors, smartphones and other high-tech devices.

The decision will fuel antagonism between the two neighbors already at a boiling point over the export controls and the issue of compensation for wartime Korean laborers.

It will ripple across the high-tech sector, further affecting supply chains already rattled by U.S.-China trade tensions.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s presidential office is expressing “deep regret” and vowing a stern response over Japan’s decision.

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