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Update on the latest in business:

May 20, 2019


Asian shares mixed; election results buoy India, Australia

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday, with India and Australia leading gains for the region following elections that looked set to keep incumbents in office.

Voting in India’s election, which lasted more than five weeks, ended with exit polls predicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and its allies will win another five years in office.

The outcome appeared to please investors, as the benchmark Sensex added 2.7% to 38,950.96.

Economists had been forecasting a contraction, but strong residential demand and government spending helped keep the economy expanding for a second straight quarter.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $63.50 per barrel.

The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.


Google says services on Huawei phone still will function

BEIJING (AP) — Google is assuring users of Huawei smartphones the American company’s services still will work on them following U.S. government restrictions on doing business with the Chinese tech giant.

Google said Monday it is complying with and “reviewing the implications” of an order that requires export licenses for technology sales to Huawei Technologies Ltd.

Last week’s order follows U.S. government accusations that Huawei is a security risk and might help Beijing spy abroad.

Huawei, which uses Google’s Android operating system, is the No. 2 global smartphone brand by number of handsets sold, behind South Korea’s Samsung Electronics.

Google said on Twitter, “We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.”


Report: More companies in China handing over technology

BEIJING (AP) — A business group says the number of foreign companies in China that feel compelled to hand over technology in exchange for market access has doubled since two years ago.

The issue is one of the complaints behind President Donald Trump’s tariff fight with Beijing.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China’s report Monday highlighted enduring complaints about “forced technology transfer” despite official denials and promises of change.

The chamber said one in five companies that responded to a survey said they feel compelled to hand over technology. The number was higher in some industries — 30 percent in petroleum and chemicals and 28 percent in medical devices.


Nearly all states use drones for range of work

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new survey shows that public transportation agencies are using drones in nearly every state.

The report obtained by The Associated Press shows a sharp increase in their use over the last few years, reflecting the rapid adoption of the technology by governments.

In Utah, drones are hovering near avalanches to watch roaring snow. In North Carolina, they’re searching for the nests of endangered birds. In Kansas, they could soon be identifying sick cows through heat signatures.

The report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials shows a sharp increase in their use over the last few years, reflecting the rapid adoption of the technology by governments as well as hobbyists.

In 2016, the nonprofit group found no state transportation agency was using drones on a daily basis. Now, 36 states have certified drone pilots on staff. When the survey was done this month, all but one state was using drones in some way. Since then, the lone holdout — Rhode Island — has bought a drone, said Tony Dorsey, a spokesman for the group.

The small, unmanned aircraft are often used for prosaic tasks, like inspecting bridges and roads. With sophisticated cameras and thermal technology, they can detect tiny cracks and identify potential potholes before they’re visible to the human eye.


Business and economic reports due out

WASHINGTON (AP) _ There are no major business or economic reports scheduled for release today.

However, on Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors issues its report on existing home sales in April.


China’s ban on scrap imports a boon to US recycling plants

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — China’s decision to restrict scrap imports created big challenges for U.S. recycling programs last year. But it has also spurred investment in plants that process recyclables no longer being shipped overseas.

The investors include Chinese companies that still need access to wastepaper or flattened bottles as raw material for manufacturing.

Dylan de Thomas of the nonprofit Recycling Partnership says about $1 billion in investment in U.S. paper processing plants has been announced in the past six months.

The Northeast Recycling Council said last fall that 17 North American paper mills had announced increased capacity to handle recyclable paper since the Chinese cutoff in January 2018.

De Thomas says Chinese companies are investing in plastic and scrap metal recycling plants in Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina.


US to roll out economic part of Mideast peace plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will roll out the first phase of its Middle East peace plan next month at a conference in Bahrain on the economic benefits that could flow from an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The plan envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work in the Palestinian territories. But the central political elements remain mostly unknown. And the economic workshop June 25-26 is not expected to tackle the major points of contention: borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and Israel’s security.

The White House announced the forum on Sunday, saying it’ll give government, civil and business leaders a chance to gather support for economic initiatives that could be possible with a peace agreement.

But with the details of the political plan under wraps, commitment for economic development won’t come easily.


UAE energy minister hints at support for oil production cuts

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The United Arab Emirates’ energy minister says he does not think relaxing the oil production cuts in place is the right measure.

Suhail al-Mazrouei spoke to reporters Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the world’s major oil producers. His comments suggest there’s support within OPEC to extend the 1.2 million barrels a day cut in place since January.

As part of the six-month deal reached, OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were expected to cut production by 800,000 barrels a day while non-OPEC countries, including Russia, trim 400,000.

The cuts were aimed at propping up oil prices after a sharp fall last year. Oil is now trading above $70 a barrel and closer to what’s needed to balance state budgets among Persian Gulf producers.


Vast gasoline lines form in oil-rich Venezuela

MARACAIBO, Venezuela (AP) — U.S. sanctions on oil-rich Venezuela appear to be taking hold, resulting in mile-long lines for fuel in the South American nation’s second-largest city, Maracaibo.

Russ Dallen of the Miami-based brokerage firm Caracas Capital Markets said Sunday that Venezuelan produces roughly 15 percent of capacity, as output falls.

It already had been declining before the Trump administration this year hit Venezuela with sanctions to force socialist President Nicolás Maduro from power. Dallen says those measures are starting to cause more pain as Venezuela’s refineries also collapse under decay.

Some motorists say they’ve had to wait 24 hours in line. Maracaibo physician Yoli Urdaneta says she’s been trying to fill up for four days so she can get to work.

She says her empty tank puts patients’ lives at risk.


Average US price of gas drops 3 cents per gallon to $2.93

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline fell 3 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) over the past two weeks, to $2.93.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says Sunday that it’s the first price drop at the pump in four months.

Lundberg says the price is 6 cents lower than it was one year ago.

The highest average price in the nation is $4.08 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The lowest average is $2.35 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The average price of diesel fell a penny over the past two weeks, to $3.16.


‘John Wick 3’ dethrones ‘Avengers: Endgame’ with $57 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The box office has a new king and his name is John Wick.

The third installment of the hyper violent Keanu Reeves franchise has taken the top spot at the North American box office and ended the three-week reign of “Avengers: Endgame.” Studios on Sunday say “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” has grossed an estimated $57 million in its opening weekend.

“Avengers: Endgame” slid to second place in its fourth weekend with $29.4 million. Domestically, it’s now second only to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” placed third with $24.8 million and “A Dog’s Journey” opened in fourth with an underwhelming $8 million.

The young adult adaptation “The Sun Is Also a Star” fizzled in its debut, grossing only $2.6 million and landing in eighth place.


Japan’s economy expanded for 2nd straight quarter

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese government says the economy grew at an annual pace of 2.1% in the first quarter, marking the second straight quarter of expansion.

The Cabinet Office said Monday seasonally adjusted real gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, grew 0.5% in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

The annual pace shows how much GDP would have grown if that pace had continued for the year.

Healthy public investment and private residential investment helped boost growth during the quarter, according to the data.

Japan’s economy has recorded moderate growth under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” anti-deflation programs but contracted some recent periods because of natural disasters.

A slowdown in Pacific trade as China’s economy slows over President Donald Trump’s tariffs would hurt export-reliant Japan.


APNewsBreak: Schumer calls for probe of Chinese rail tech

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate’s top Democrat wants an investigation into whether a plan for new subway cars in New York City designed by a Chinese state-owned company could pose a threat to national security.

Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday he’s asked the Commerce Department to conduct a “top-to-bottom review” after CRRC won a design contest for new subway cars in New York City.

The company hasn’t won a contract in New York, although it has been awarded contracts for new rail cars in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.

Rail security experts are warning of prior cyberthreats and hacking attacks from China.

CRRC says it welcomes any inquiry. It says there’s no evidence of any manufacturer intentionally opening railcars to cyberthreats.


Graduation speaker pledges to pay class of 2019 student debt

ATLANTA (AP) — A billionaire technology investor and philanthropist says his family is providing grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 class at Morehouse College.

Robert F. Smith made the announcement Sunday morning in front of nearly 400 graduating seniors and elicited the biggest cheers of the morning.

Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the ceremony. He had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the pledge to eliminate the student debt for the class has been estimated at $40 million.

Morehouse College is an all-male historically black college located in Atlanta.

Smith is the Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.