Business Highlights

February 6, 2020 GMT


Global tourism takes major hit as virus halts Chinese travel

This should have been a good year for global tourism, with trade tensions gradually easing, certain economies growing and banner events like the Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo. But the viral outbreak in China has thrown the travel industry into chaos, threatening billions in losses and keeping millions of would-be travelers at home. Thirty airlines have suspended service to China. Cruise lines have cancelled more than a dozen Chinese cruises. And hotel rooms in China are largely empty. Before the outbreak, the United Nations World Tourism Organization was forecasting growth of 3-4% in global tourism this year, up from 1.5 billion tourist arrivals in 2019.


China cuts tariffs on $75B of US imports in trade truce

BEIJING (AP) — China has cut tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports including soybeans, pork and auto parts in a trade truce with Washington as Beijing struggles with a costly virus outbreak. The cuts follow last month’s signing of a “Phase 1” agreement toward ending a long-running tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus. Both sides have made conciliatory gestures but the lingering dispute threatens to chill global economic growth. There was no indication Beijing altered its own reductions in response to the impact of measures imposed to contain a virus outbreak that have closed factories, restaurants and shops.


Uber loses $1.1B investing in food delivery, driverless cars

NEW YORK (AP) — Uber is still losing money as it invests in its food delivery business and developing technology for driverless cars. But revenue for its rides business nearly tripled in the final three months of last year as the company picked up more passengers around the world. Uber says it expects to turn a profit earlier than it expected. The ride-hailing giant lost $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, about 24% more money than the same time last year. Uber brought in $4.1 billion in revenue, up 37% from a year ago.


US lets autonomous vehicle bypass human-driver safety rules

DETROIT (AP) — For the first time, the U.S. government’s highway safety agency has approved a company’s request to deploy a self-driving vehicle that doesn’t need to meet the same federal safety standards for cars and trucks driven by humans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it granted temporary approval for Silicon Valley robotics company Nuro to run a low-speed autonomous delivery vehicle without side- and rear-view mirrors necessary for human drivers.


Twitter shares jump on rise in user numbers, revenue

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Shares in Twitter have surged after the social media company said its revenue and user numbers exceeded forecasts. The company averaged 152 million daily users during the last three months of the year, up from 145 million during the previous quarter. As for quarterly revenue, Twitter surpassed $1 billion for the first time. But fourth-quarter profits fell 53% as expenses rose. Twitter has been increasing staff to deal with misinformation, abuse, hate speech and spam.


Online mattress pioneer Casper soars in debut trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of online mattress pioneer Casper Sleep Inc. popped on their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock closed at $13.50, up 13% above the $12 IPO price. Casper became the first well-known name to reveal plans to go public this year, serving as a test for investors’ appetite for unprofitable startups. Still, Casper has plenty of challenges ahead to prove that it can become a profitable business.


Victims: PG&E still has rickety power line near Paradise

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric is still operating a rickety power line near the one that ignited a 2018 wildfire that wiped out the Northern California city of Paradise. That’s the finding of an expert inspector hired by lawyers for wildfire victims who lost family members and homes. PG&E filed for bankruptcy last year because of $50 billion in claimed losses from wildfires in 2017 and 2018. PG&E says it re-inspected the power line after being alerted about the problems, but found no immediate safety issues. But the utility also acknowledged some equipment on the line still needs to be fixed.


NY Times publisher’s 4Q profit grows as it adds subscribers

NEW YORK (AP) — The publisher of The New York Times posted a higher profit for its fourth quarter as the paper continued to add digital subscribers, although ad revenue declined both online and on paper. The Times in 2019 set a goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025, and has hit the halfway mark with 5.3 million print and digital subscribers. Fourth-quarter earnings rose 20% to $68.2 million, while revenue rose 1% to $508.4 million.


Stocks post 4th gain in a row, extending a weeklong rally

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Thursday, extending the market’s solid rebound this week and delivering another round of record highs for the major indexes. The S&P 500 index, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq each hit all-time highs as they extended their winning streak to a fourth day. The latest gains came as investors assessed more company earnings reports. China’s decision to cut tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports also helped keep investors in a buying mood.


The S&P 500 index rose 11.09 points, or 0.3%, to 3,345.78. The Dow gained 88.92 points, or 0.3%, to 29,379.77. The Nasdaq climbed 63.47 points, or 0.7%, to 9,572.15. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 4.46 points, or 0.3%, to 1,677.46.