Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Shares advance in Asia after S&P 500 logs all-time high

UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher today after the S&P 500 logged a fresh all-time high.

Markets in Hong Kong were closed due to a tropical storm. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3%.

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Yesterday, Wall Street clawed back the last of the dizzying losses unleashed by the new coronavirus, as the S&P 500 picked up 0.2% to 3,389.78, surpassing its previous record closing high of 3,386.15. It was set on Feb. 19, before the pandemic shut down businesses around the world and knocked economies into their worst recessions in decades.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% on Tuesday to 27,778.07 and is still 6% below its record set in February. The Nasdaq composite had already returned to a record, thanks to huge gains for the big tech stocks that dominate it. It hit a new one Tuesday, climbing 0.7%, to 11,210.84.

ELECTION 2020-POSTAL SERVICE

Postal Service halts some changes amid outcry, lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing mounting public pressure and a crush of state lawsuits, President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general says he is halting some operational changes to mail delivery that critics blamed for widespread delays and warned could disrupt the November election.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he would “suspend” several of his initiatives — including the removal of the distinctive blue mailboxes that prompted an outcry — until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”

The abrupt reversal from DeJoy, who is set to testify Friday before the Senate, comes as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be suing to stop the changes. Several vowed they would press on, keeping a watchful eye on the Postal Service ahead of the election. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing ahead with Saturday’s vote to prevent election-year mail changes and provide emergency postal funds.

JAPAN-TRADE

Japan’s exports plunge 19.2% amid pandemic

UNDATED (AP) — Japan’s exports in July plunged 19.2% from a year ago, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to slam the world’s third largest economy.

The Finance Ministry’s provisional numbers showed Japan’s imports in July fell 22.3%. Exports to the U.S. especially suffered, declining 19.5% last month. They include plastic goods, iron and steel and computer parts. But Japan recorded its first trade surplus in four months on the back of a recovery in China.

Japan’s export-reliant economy has been ailing since the outbreak caused some plant production to be temporarily halted, squelched tourism and generally hurt economic activity. Japan has never imposed a lockdown but has encouraged people to work from home, wear masks and social distance. Some stores have closed or shortened their hours.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIA

S. Korea has highest daily increase since March

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has reported 297 new cases of the coronavirus, its biggest daily rise since early March, as the country began restricting gatherings in the greater capital area amid fears that transmissions are getting out of control.

The figures released by the South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 16,058, including 306 deaths. It was the sixth straight day the country reported daily increases in triple digits, with most of the cases coming from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to contain transmissions linked to various sources, including churches, restaurants and workers.

US-CHINA-FLIGHTS

US and China agree to double airline flights between them

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to double the number of airline flights that each other’s airlines can operate between the countries, from four to eight per week.

The deal marks a further easing of a standoff between the world’s two biggest economies over travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. The U.S. Transportation Department announced the increase Tuesday, saying that China’s aviation authority decided this week to permit expanded flights by United and Delta.

Shortly after the announcement, Chicago-based United Airlines said it will go from two to four flights per week between San Francisco and Shanghai via Seoul, starting Sept. 4. The Transportation Department said Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is also eligible to increase its two weekly flights to four.

ENBRIDGE ENERGY-LINE 3

Walz administration keeps up fight against Line 3

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz’s administration said Tuesday it will appeal the latest approvals by state utility regulators for Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its old and corroding Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The state Commerce Department faced a deadline of today to ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to take another look at the project. Environmental and tribal groups opposed to the pipeline have already filed their appeals. Walz said in a statement that the state must follow “the process, the law, and the science” for any project that impacts Minnesota’s environment and economy.

LNG-RAIL-SHIPMENTS

Rule allowing LNG rail shipments in US challenged in court

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A coalition of six environmental advocacy groups asked a federal judge on Tuesday to block a new Trump administration rule to allow rail shipments of liquefied natural gas, a new front in the movement of energy products backed by both the natural gas and rail freight industries.

The groups will argue in court that, among other things, the administration did not adequately study the new rule to ensure that the activity it is authorizing is safe for workers, communities and the environment. That’s according to Jordan Luebkemann, a lawyer for Earthjustice, which is representing the groups court.

The rule, they said, would allow shipments of the flammable and odorless liquid known as LNG by rail in tanker cars that are untested and that cannot withstand high-speed impacts.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FRENCH CHAMPAGNE

Champagne makers fix harvest quotas, as virus kills the fizz

PARIS (AP) — French Champagne producers decided Tuesday to put unprecedented limits on the quantity of grapes they’ll harvest this year in hopes of propping up prices and containing damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, record amounts of grapes may need to be destroyed or sold to distilleries at discounted prices. But for the Champagne Committee, the influential group that represents 16,000 vintners around France’s Champagne region, that’s the price to pay for saving their luxury business.

Vintners in Champagne country will only be allowed to collectively harvest 8,000 kilograms of grapes per hectare this season, or the equivalent of 230 million bottles for the whole region, according to Tuesday’s decision. That is 21% less than the amounts allowed last year.

CARNIVAL CRUISE-HACKED

Carnival Corp. hacked; guest and worker information accessed

MIAMI (AP) — Carnival Corp. says it was the victim of a ransomware attack that likely got some personal information about the cruise company’s guests and employees.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the attack was first detected Saturday. The attack accessed an encrypted portion of technology systems for one of the cruise line’s brands and certain data files were downloaded. Carnival operates Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and other lines, but the company didn’t say in the filing which cruise line was affected.

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