Asian shares mixed after China stabilizes currency
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed today as markets calmed after China’s decision to stabilize its currency.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei lost 0.2% in afternoon trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7%. South Korea’ Kospi slipped 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped nearly 0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.2%.
Wall Street regained its footing a day after its biggest decline in a year, which had been set off by news that China allowed its currency to depreciate against the dollar to its lowest level in 11 years.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index rose 37.03 points, or 1.3%, to 2,881.77. The index dropped 3% on Monday, its worst loss since December. The Dow climbed 311.78 points, or 1.2%, to 26,029.52 Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite gained 107.23 points, or 1.4%, to 7,833.27. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 14.67 points, or 1%, to 1,502.09.
Former Fed leaders defend Powell against Trump’s attacks
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a strong rebuke to President Donald Trump, the four living former leaders of the Federal Reserve say that the head of the nation’s central bank should be free of political pressure and the threat of being removed or demoted.
The former chairs — Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen — argued in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal that history has proven that central banks deliver the best results for the economy when they act “independently of short-term political pressures.”
Current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has come under heavy attacks from Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Powell’s decisions and has reportedly explored the possibility of either firing Powell or demoting him as Fed chairman.
China yuan weakens after signs of stability calm markets
BEIJING (AP) — China’s yuan has weakened again after signs its decline was stabilizing helped to reassure jittery financial markets.
The currency edged down to 7.0488 to the U.S. dollar today, about 0.4 percent below its level late the previous day.
Financial markets tumbled after Beijing allowed the yuan to fall to an 11-year low against the dollar this week. That prompted Washington to label China a currency manipulator, opening the way to possible sanctions.
The central bank promised to keep the currency stable, which helped to reassure investors.
Despite that, the central bank set the opening level for trading Wednesday at 6.9996 to the dollar, almost 0.5 percent below Tuesday’s starting level.
Japan says export step not aimed at hurting ties with Seoul
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s government spokesman says his country’s downgrading of South Korea’s trade status is not intended as retaliation for disputes over court rulings ordering Japanese companies pay compensation for their treatment of Korean laborers during World War II.
A decision by the Cabinet last Friday to drop South Korea from a list of countries granted preferred trade status became official today, and will take effect on Aug. 28.
The step adds to Japan’s export controls imposed in July on three key materials for South Korea’s semiconductor industry, triggering outrage there.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the measures are about Japan’s national security concerns and not countermeasures for the court rulings.
Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula 1910-1945, and insists all compensation issues were settled under a 1965 agreement normalizing ties.
Official: Nuke program serves as ‘ultimate insurance policy’
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the U.S. agency that maintains the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal says the country is facing the most complex and demanding global security environment since the Cold War.
National Nuclear Security Administration chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty made the comments Tuesday during a business expo in Albuquerque.
Gordon-Hagerty told the crowd that Russia and China are investing significant resources to upgrade and expand their capabilities, Iran has increased its nuclear stockpile beyond limits set by a 2015 accord and North Korea’s intentions remain unclear.
She described the United States’ nuclear program as the “ultimate insurance policy” against those wishing to do harm.
Gordon-Hagerty’s visit comes as the NNSA faces pressure to ramp up production of plutonium pits at facilities in New Mexico and South Carolina. The pits are key components for nuclear weapons.
Judge approves sale of Blackjewel coal assets
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge has approved Contura Energy’s bid for three mines owned by the bankrupt Blackjewel coal company.
A Blackjewel spokesman says U.S. District Judge Frank Volk in West Virginia approved the sale Tuesday. The deal still needs the federal government’s approval before it’s finalized.
Contura has said it wants to reopen and rehire staffers from Blackjewel’s Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming but still needs to determine employment decisions at the Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.
A Contura spokesman declined to comment Tuesday pending the federal government’s approval. The Tennessee-based company had bid nearly $34 million for the three mines.
The judge also approved bids for several other Blackjewel mines in the two-day sales hearing.
Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 1.
Panels overturns settlement approval in Google privacy suit
DOVER, Del. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Google spied on users’ online activity using tracking “cookies,” even when privacy settings were set to prevent the snooping.
A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that a Delaware judge erred in approving the settlement in 2017.
The settlement called for Google to stop using the cookies for Safari browsers and to pay $5.5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal expenses, incentive awards to class representatives, and contributions to data privacy organizations, some with prior ties to Google.
In return, Google was released from potential liability for money damages.
The appeals panel said the judge’s “cursory” settlement analysis was insufficient. It expressed particular concern about the broad release of claims for money damages and the payments to outside groups.
FDA says Novartis withheld data problem before drug approval
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. regulators want to know why Novartis didn’t disclose a problem with testing data until after the Swiss drugmaker’s $2.1 million gene therapy was approved.
The Food and Drug Administration said the manipulated data involves testing of the therapy on animals, not on patients. The FDA on Tuesday said it’s confident the drug should remain on the market. The agency said it will consider criminal or civil penalties if appropriate.
Zolgensma, the most expensive treatment ever, was approved in May. It’s expected to be a one-time treatment for a rare inherited condition, spinal muscular atrophy. It was approved for children under 2.
Novartis had no immediate comment.
Walgreens to shut 200 US stores as part of cost-cutting plan
NEW YORK (AP) — Pharmacy chain Walgreens plans to close 200 stores in the United States as it seeks to cut costs.
The company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday the closings are part of its previously announced plan to trim costs by $1.5 billion in a few years. In May, the company announced plans to close 200 stores in the United Kingdom.
The Deerfield, Illinois-based company operates more than 18,000 stores worldwide. In June it reported a 24% decline in quarterly net income and predicted that annual earnings would be roughly flat with the prior year. Walgreens has been hit by challenges including reimbursement cuts and lower price increases for branded drugs.
In the year to date, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. shares are down nearly 25% while the broader S&P 500 is up 13%.
^INGLEWOOD STADIUM-AMERICAN AIRLINES
American Airlines first sponsor for Rams, Chargers stadium
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The new stadium at Hollywood Park being built for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers will have American Airlines as one of its corporate sponsors.
The LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park announced that American will be a founding partner. The airline will be the naming rights partner for American Airlines Plaza, which will be a 2½-acre, two-level open-air space that will serve as the main entrance into the 70,000-seat stadium and 6,000-seat performance venue.
The announcement took place Tuesday in front of the stadium, which is 75 percent complete and slated to open next July.
The stadium will also host the Super Bowl in 2022, the College Football Playoff championship in 2023 and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Olympics.
The nearly $5 billion complex — which sits on 298 acres in Inglewood, is being built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. It will also include retail and office space as well as apartments.