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Stocks mostly lower...Canada ‘encouraged’ on NAFTA...Microsoft to require paid child care leave for contract workers

August 30, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mostly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street, threatening to break a four-day winning streak. Banks are falling along with interest rates and the stronger dollar is sending industrial and basic materials companies lower. Technology companies are doing a bit better than the rest of the market, putting the Nasdaq composite index in positive territory while the Dow and the S&P 500 were lower.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Canada’s top trade negotiator says she’s “encouraged” by discussions on overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canadian negotiators are in Washington for talks aimed at reinstating Canada in a new version of the 24-year-old NAFTA. On Monday the United States and Mexico cut a deal on a revamped regional pact that excludes Canada. The U.S. Business Roundtable and the Business Council of Canada are urging trade negotiators to agree to a version of NAFTA that continues to include all three nations.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s top trade official says the bloc is in exploratory talks with the United States to see whether it would be possible to reach a limited trans-Atlantic agreement on the tariff of goods. But EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is rejecting suggestions that the EU is caving in to U.S. pressure. The two sides are likely to hold talks in Brussels in the coming weeks.

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government says it will make economic changes at its own pace regardless of U.S. pressure. A Commerce Ministry spokesman says the spiraling dispute over technology can only be settled through talks as equals. He gave no indication of possible plans for more negotiations after talks last week in Washington ended without progress.

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft says it’s requiring its contractors to offer their U.S. employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. It’s common for tech firms to offer generous family leave benefits for their own engineers, but experts say it’s rare to require similar benefits for janitors, landscapers and other contract workers. The new policy affects businesses with at least 50 U.S.-based employees that supply Microsoft with various services. It expands on Microsoft’s 2015 policy requiring contractors to offer paid sick days and vacation.