Asian stocks marginally higher on backdrop of US-China talks
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were marginally higher on Friday as U.S. and Chinese officials held a new round of talks seeking to avert a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The Trump administration has proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products to punish Beijing for forcing American companies to turn over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market. China has countered by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products. Neither country has imposed the tariffs.
U.S. stock indexes closed slightly lower, with the S&P 500 index down 0.1 percent to 2,720.13. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2 percent to 24,713.98. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.2 percent to 7,382.47. But the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 0.6 percent to 1,625.29.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $71.50 per barrel.
The dollar rose against the yen and weakened against the euro.
As talks resume, China ends anti-dumping probe of US sorghum
HONG KONG (AP) — As China-U.S. trade talks resumed in Washington, China said Friday it is dropping anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imported U.S. sorghum, saying it is not in the public interest.
The Commerce Ministry said it was ending the anti-dumping probe because it would have raised costs for consumers.
The announcement was a possible sign Beijing is willing to make a deal with Washington amid talks between senior U.S. and Chinese officials aimed at averting a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
China started investigating U.S. sorghum in February after finding that large volumes and falling prices hurt Chinese producers. Preliminary anti-dumping tariffs of 178.6 percent on the crop, which is used primarily for animal feed and liquor, took effect on April 18.
The government said it had received many reports that the investigation would result in higher costs for the livestock industry, adding that many domestic pig farmers were facing hardship because of declining pork prices.
The probe had also sparked fears among American farmers that they would lose their largest export market for the crop.
Trump met Thursday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the leader of China’s delegation for the negotiations in Washington. Trump had told reporters earlier that he had doubts about the potential for an agreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the talks with Chinese officials.
Rise of Chinese middle class fuels interest in craft beers
SHANGHAI (AP) — Hundreds of craft beer enthusiasts, investors and brewers are attending an exhibition in Shanghai dedicated to expanding the palette of Chinese consumers and promoting sales of high-end brews.
Local brewers from across China and the world are at the 2018 Craft Beer of China Exhibition to share tips on latest technology and sales trends as beer consumption grows in China beyond legacy brews to more experimental, refined, and expensive flavors.
Craft beer is far from upstaging local beer behemoths like Tsingtao and Yanjing in the $28 billion national beer market, but it is quickly growing with craft breweries opening up in major and smaller cities across China.
Exhibition organizer Darren Guo says as China’s middle class grows, so too does its tastes for finer products.
Canada’s Trudeau to talk about tech at MIT gathering
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (troo-DOH’) is scheduled to speak at a gathering of tech entrepreneurs at MIT.
Trudeau will visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus on Friday to headline the annual meeting of the school’s Solve initiative.
The project connects tech entrepreneurs with leaders in government, business and academia to tackle world problems.
MIT says it will be Trudeau’s first visit to Cambridge since he was elected prime minister in 2015.
Trudeau’s three-day trip to the U.S. also included a stop at New York University, where he gave a commencement speech on Wednesday urging graduates to embrace diversity and not cocoon themselves in an ideological “bubble.”
The visit comes amid talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico over whether to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement.
CBS approves dividend in face of likely veto
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Most of CBS Corp.’s board has approved a special dividend that could enable the company to break free from its controlling shareholder, but the power struggle’s outcome still hinges on an ongoing legal battle.
National Amusement Inc., currently CBS’s majority shareholder, would have its voting stake reduced from 79 percent to 17 percent if the dividend is issued.
But that can’t happen unless CBS can overturn a recent change requiring the dividend be approved by a “supermajority” of its 15-member board.
The dividend was approved by all of CBS’s directors not affiliated with NAI. That means NAI can still veto the dividend and preserve its control.
NAI, led by the daughter of media mogul Sumner Redstone, indicated it would block the dividend in a statement that called Thursday’s vote “pure pretext.”
CBS postponed an annual shareholder meeting scheduled for Friday until the matter is resolved in Delaware court.
EPA-CHEMICAL PLANT SAFETY
Pruitt rescinding safety rules prompted by fatal plant blast
WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to rescind some safety measures proposed after a deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer plant.
Pruitt on Thursday signed changes to proposed Obama-era safety rules that would affect 12,500 U.S. chemical plants, refineries and other facilities.
The safety rules were prompted by a 2013 explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 people.
Pruitt’s changes eliminate some requirements for safety training and investigations after an accident.
Eric Schaeffer with the Environmental Integrity Project says the changes also would make it harder for people living near facilities to get basic information about chemical risks.
Pruitt says the revised rules improve emergency planning and reduce regulation. Alex Formuzis of the Environmental Working Group calls it a “hollowing out” of the safety upgrades.
House votes to leave US sugar program alone
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has voted decisively to leave the government’s much-criticized sugar program alone.
Thursday’s 278-137 vote gave the nation’s powerful sugar lobby an easier-than-expected victory over food processors, soft drink manufacturers and candy makers who complain that the sugar program drives up prices and gouges consumers.
The sugar program, a web of price supports, loans and tariffs, was one of the key battles in this year’s farm bill, a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.
GOP leaders are promoting this year’s renewal of the farm and food bill as tightening work and job training requirements for food stamps.
The sugar program is part of an amalgam of commodity support programs that have sweeping backing in Republican-leaning farm country.
FDA-NEW MIGRAINE DRUG
US approves 1st drug developed to prevent chronic migraines
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. regulators have approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines.
Thursday’s action by the Food and Drug Administration clears the monthly shot for sale. Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) is the first in a new class of long-acting drugs for preventing migraines. Three other shots are expected to win approval by next year, and several pills are being tested.
Current prevention treatments include pills originally developed for epilepsy and other conditions and the wrinkle reducer Botox, but many patients abandon them because they don’t help much or cause serious side effects.
Migraines can cause disabling symptoms: throbbing headaches, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
PayPal gains bigger in-store presence with $2.2B acquisition
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — PayPal is buying financial services startup iZettle for $2.2 billion to expand its digital payment service into thousands of brick-and-mortar stores in Europe and Latin America.
The deal announced Thursday marks the largest acquisition in PayPal’s 20-year history and intensifies its competition with Square, a payment processor started by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.
Both PayPal and Square are vying to help mostly small- and medium-sized retailers process sales that aren’t paid with cash.
After the deal closes, PayPal will gain a presence in stores located in 11 new markets: Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
PayPal, based in San Jose, California, says Stockholm-based iZettle is on pace to process about $6 billion in payments this year.
DATA LEAK-PHONE LOCATION
Website flaw exposes real-time locations of US cellphones
UNDATED (AP) — A security researcher says a website flaw at a U.S. company could have allowed anyone to pinpoint the location of nearly any cellphone in the United States.
The lapse at LocationSmart, a company that gathers real-time data on cellular wireless devices, is the latest to highlight how little protection consumers have from trafficking in data about their location. LocationSmart says it has access to data on 95 percent of U.S. wireless subscribers.
The case was first reported by independent journalist Brian Krebs.
Carnegie Mellon researcher Robert Xiao says LocationSmart took the flawed webpage offline Thursday, a day after he discovered the flaw and notified the company. LocationSmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kushner Cos. in talks to sell stake in struggling skyscraper
NEW YORK (AP) — The company owned by the family of Jared Kushner is in talks to sell a stake in its struggling Manhattan skyscraper to a real estate fund.
A source familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it and requested anonymity says a fund overseen by Brookfield Properties is negotiating to buy a stake in the Kushner Cos.’s flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue.
Kushner Cos. has been losing money ever since it bought the 41-story skyscraper for a record $1.8 billion more than a decade ago when Kushner was CEO.
The company’s global hunt for investors in places such as China and Qatar has drawn criticism because of the potential conflicts it could pose with Kushner’s current role as a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.