Asian markets mixed after Wall Street rises on dealmaking
UNDATED (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher today after Wall Street rose on a flurry of corporate deals and China’s economic activity improved.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.4% today while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.5%. The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney was down less than 0.1%. India’s Sensex opened up 0.1%. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul gained, while Tokyo retreated.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained to 3,383.54. That reversed part of the index’s 2.5% slide last week, its biggest weekly decline since June.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2% to 27,993.33. The Nasdaq, which includes many tech stocks, picked up 1.9% to 11,056.65.
Federal Reserve to meet after sharp changes to its outlook
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve policymakers will meet this week for the first time since they significantly revised the Fed’s operating framework in ways that will likely keep short-term interest rates near zero for years to come.
As a result, analysts expect the Fed will keep its benchmark rate unchanged after the two-day meeting that ends Wednesday. It has been pegged at nearly zero since March after the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it essentially shut down the economy.
The Fed will also issue its quarterly economic projections, which will for the first time include estimates for growth, unemployment and the Fed’s benchmark interest rate for 2023.
Daimler AG to pay $1.5B to settle emissions cheating probes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Automaker Daimler AG and subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA have agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the U.S. government and California state regulators to resolve emissions cheating allegations.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and the California attorney general’s office say Daimler violated environmental laws by using so-called “defeat device software” to circumvent emissions testing and sold about 250,000 cars and vans in the U.S. with diesel engines that didn’t comply with state and federal laws.
The settlement, which includes civil penalties, will also require Daimler to fix the vehicles, officials said. In addition, the company will pay $700 million to settle U.S. consumer lawsuits.
UNITED STATES-CHINA-FORCED LABOR
US halts imports from China’s Uighur region for forced labor
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has blocked imports from four companies and a manufacturing facility in northwestern China suspected of using forced labor from people detained as part of a sweeping crackdown on ethnic minorities in the region.
Companies that ship clothing and other cotton goods, computer parts and hair products from the Xinjiang region were named in the order issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The manufacturing facility is a center where Uighurs and other minorities have been detained and compelled to produce goods that have been exported to the U.S. and elsewhere.
Acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli dismissed the notion that the facility is a “vocational” center as has been portrayed by Chinese authorities, calling it “a concentration camp” where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions.
EPA sides with farmers on ethanol, rejects refinery waivers
UNDATED (AP) — Federal regulators have handed a victory to corn farmers and the renewable fuels industry by refusing to allow a group of petroleum refiners in 14 states to forego requirements to blend ethanol into the gasoline they make.
Members of Congress from farm states have heavily lobbied President Donald Trump to reject the waiver requests for months. Those representing oil producing states supported the waivers which were originally designed to help small refineries but were also granted by EPA in recent years to larger refineries.
The decision comes 50 days before the presidential election in which Trump needs support of farmers to help carry several Midwest states again.
Oracle and TikTok struck a deal. What it is, none will say
UNDATED (AP) — The short-video app TikTok has chosen Oracle as its corporate savior to avoid a U.S. ban ordered by President Donald Trump.
The U.S. government will review the prospective deal. That much is known. Everything else is confusion, at least to outsiders.
Will the U.S. and Chinese companies form a joint venture, or is Oracle just acquiring TikTok as a customer? Will President Trump like this arrangement? Will it avert Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok? Does it address the national-security concerns Trump raised around potential data siphoning by Beijing?
Experts say the whole process has been a mess.
WESTERN WILDFIRES-ECONOMIC IMPACT
Wildfires during pandemic intensify economic pain in West
UNDATED (AP) — The fires consuming the forests of California and Oregon and darkening the skies over San Francisco and Portland are also damaging a regional economy already singed by the coronavirus outbreak.
Wildfires are destroying property, running up huge losses for property insurers and putting a strain on economic activity along the West Coast that could linger for a year or more.
The credit rating agency A.M. Best estimates that insured losses from the blazes in California could top the unprecedented $13 billion recorded in 2017 when the state was hit by three of the five costliest fires in U.S. history.
NEW JERSEY GAMBLING REVENUE
New Jersey sets US sports betting monthly record at $668M
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey gamblers set a nationwide record for the most money bet on sports in a single month, plunking down almost $668 million in August on events including resurgent baseball, basketball and hockey seasons that had been interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
That smashed the previous record of $614 million set in Nevada in Nov. 2019.
The extra money helped cushion the blow of months of losses incurred by New Jersey’s casinos and two racetracks that offer sports betting, helping them start to rebound financially.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement shows the casinos and tracks collectively won $326.3 million from gamblers in August.
UK unemployment edges up in July but much worse expected
LONDON (AP) — Official figures show that unemployment in the U.K. edged up in July even though large sections of the British economy reopened after the coronavirus lockdown.
The 104,000 rise in the number of people unemployed during the three-month period to July raised the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points to 4.1% — the biggest increase in the rate since the pandemic emerged.
Analysts worry that unemployment will start to rise more markedly in the coming months as a salary-support government package, which encouraged over a million companies to keep nearly 10 million employees on payroll rather than fire them, is coming to an end.
ADB forecasts developing Asian economies in recession in ’20
UNDATED (AP) —The Asian Development Bank has forecast that developing economies in the region will contract in 2020, the first such downturn in nearly 60 years.
The update of the ADB’s outlook estimates the regional economy will contract 0.7% this year, recovering to 6.8% growth in 2021. It said conditions could deteriorate, however, if the coronavirus pandemic worsens significantly.
The report says that China, where the pandemic began, has already begun to recover and will see its economy grow 1.8% this year. The regional lender’s latest update downgrades growth estimates for many countries in the region, where outbreaks of coronavirus have surged in some countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia.