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Update on the latest in business:

May 16, 2019 GMT


Asian stocks mixed on trade jitters, reported tariff delay

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Thursday amid worries over trade tensions, leavened by media reports that President Donald Trump may delay a decision on auto tariffs.

On Wall Street, a promising update on the Trump administration’s efforts to reach a trade deal with Canada and Mexico by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put investors in a buying mood.

Sentiment also got a boost from reports that the White House plans to delay new tariffs on car and auto parts imports from Europe by up to six months.


Mnuchin also said he expected to travel soon to Beijing to resume talks on the trade dispute that has rattled financial markets and cast doubt over the global economic outlook.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index gained 0.6% to 2,850.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5% to 25,648.02. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, added 1.1% to 7,822.15. Small-company stocks lagged the market. The Russell 2000 index picked up 0.3% to 1,548.27.

But the rally fizzled in Asia.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just below $62.50 a barrel.

The dollar fell against the yen and the euro.


Schools turn to technology to reduce toll during shootings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Efforts to combat the intractable problem of school shootings are starting to shift from preventing the violence to reducing the number of victims through technology that speeds up law enforcement’s response and quickly alerts teachers and students to danger.

School districts are using products like gunshot detection systems that identify where shots are fired and apps that allow teachers to report attacks and connect with police. While a focus on gun control often emerges after shootings, technology can be a less partisan solution that’s quick to implement — though some experts say funding preventive mental health resources should be the priority.

The tech approach comes amid rising concern over the inability to prevent shootings like the one last week at a suburban Denver high school. Student Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed after charging one of the gunmen and was honored at a memorial service Wednesday.

While school attacks are relatively rare, they have been among the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.


Business and economic reports scheduled today:


WASHINGTON (AP _ The Commerce Department releases its report on April’s housing starts today.

And Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reports on this week’s average mortgage rates.

Also, Walmart reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.


Mnuchin sees progress on steel tariffs with Mexico, Canada

NEW YORK (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the U.S. is making progress in talks with Canada and Mexico over steel tariffs, potentially overcoming a key hurdle toward approval of a trade agreement between the three countries.

Appearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, Mnuchin also said he expects to soon travel to Beijing with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to resume negotiations on the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

The positive comments on trade from Mnuchin helped turn losses on Wall Street into gains by midday.

The U.S. has negotiated a trade deal with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA. But some U.S. lawmakers say they won’t vote to approve the deal unless the U.S. lifts tariffs on steel from the two countries put in place last year.


Perdue says farmer aid package still a work in progress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says his agency is still “in the throes of constructing” an aid package for farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs, but he is not saying when it will be ready.

Perdue says the Agriculture Department is reviewing feedback from producers about the strengths and weaknesses of last year’s relief package, valued at nearly $12 billion.

Perdue says he believes this year’s assistance will be enough to offset losses caused by the tariffs. He also predicts the current trade battles with China will not cause long-term harm to U.S. farmers.

Perdue, speaking from South Korea, has been tasked by President Donald Trump to assist farmers who have seen prices for their products fall because of tariffs imposed by China in response to tariffs that Trump initiated.


Trump issues order that appears to target China’s Huawei

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is issuing an executive order to help protect the United States against foreign adversaries that are taking advantage of technological vulnerabilities to threaten U.S. communications systems.

The order the White House announced Wednesday does not name specific countries or companies, but the administration has been trying to keep allied nations from using equipment from the Chinese tech company Huawei. In August, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government from using equipment from Huawei and China’s ZTE Corp.

The U.S., which is embroiled in an escalating trade war with China, also has sounded warnings about Huawei’s efforts to expand into Europe. The U.S. worries that China could use Huawei to gain access to private, commercial or other information that could compromise NATO and allied intelligence operations.


Governor aims to block extension for utility

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. shouldn’t get an extra six months to reorganize.

The utility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January as it faced tens of billions of dollars in potential costs related to deadly California wildfires.

Its reorganization plan is due by the end of May, but the utility has requested an extension until November.

In a Wednesday court filing, Newsom said the utility’s request continues to show it lacks an urgent focus on improving safety. He’s asking the court to instead grant an extension through August.

Newsom and lawmakers are working on proposals around utility liability for wildfires that could affect the bankruptcy.

California investigators on Wednesday found PG&E power lines were responsible for last year’s wildfire that killed 85 people.


Judge orders FDA to begin regulating e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge is ordering the Food and Drug Administration to begin reviewing the health effects of e-cigarettes.

The ruling handed down Wednesday says the agency abdicated its legal duty when it postponed reviewing all U.S. vaping products by several years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other groups filed the federal lawsuit in Maryland last year. The groups say the lack of FDA oversight has led to an explosion in underage vaping by teenagers, threatening to hook a generation of Americans on nicotine.

The FDA gained authority to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, but it has allowed thousands of products to remain on the market without formal rules or safety standards.

The agency has said government and industry need more time to prepare for regulation.


Met Museum: No more money from family connected to OxyContin

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Museum of Art says it will stop taking money gifts from members of the Sackler family connected to the pharmaceutical company that makes OxyContin.

The museum announced the policy change on Wednesday.

The Sackler family has a longstanding philanthropic history with the Met and other cultural institutions. But there has been increasing criticism over institutions accepting money from the branches of the family that are connected to Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin.

Purdue and the Sacklers connected to it have been sued over accusations revolving around their role in the nation’s opioid crisis.

In a statement to The New York Times, the Sacklers linked to Purdue say the allegations against them are “false and unfair” but they understand accepting gifts “would put the Met in a difficult position.”


Historic JFK terminal gets new life as luxury hotel

NEW YORK (AP) — The famous winged TWA terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport has come out of its decades-long retirement with a new life as a luxury hotel.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand Wednesday for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Finnish architect Eero Saarinen (EHR’-oh SAHR’-ih-nehn) didn’t have a hotel in mind when he designed the futuristic structure that opened in 1962.

Those were the heady jet-age days of the first space flights and President John F. Kennedy’s promise of a moon landing.

Now, hospitality executive Tyler Morse hopes the proximity to the airport will draw travelers who don’t want to fight nightmarish traffic to catch their flights.