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Business Highlights: Afghanistan database, railroad battle

September 7, 2021 GMT

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Elizabeth Holmes’ trial to dissect downfall of a tech star

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Elizabeth Holmes once seemed destined to fulfill her dream of becoming Silicon Valley’s next superstar. Her promises to revolutionize medicine running her startup, Theranos, were being publicly hailed by former President Bill Clinton and then Vice President Joe Biden. But after the scandalous collapse of a company once valued at $9 billion, Holmes is heading into a San Jose, California, courtroom to defend herself against criminal allegations depicting her as the devious mastermind of a fraud that duped investors, former U.S. government officials and patients whose lives were endangered by a blood-testing technology that never came close to fulfilling her bold promises.

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US stocks close mostly lower, but Nasdaq still inches higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed mostly lower on Wall Street Tuesday as traders returned from the Labor Day holiday, even as gains for some Big Tech companies nudged the Nasdaq composite barely higher. The benchmark S&P 500 slipped 0.3%. Meanwhile gains for Apple, Facebook and a few other tech heavyweights nudged the Nasdaq up just under 0.1%, enough for another record high. The Dow industrials lost 0.8%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.37%, which helped lift bank stocks like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Energy prices fell broadly. The price of benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 1.4%.

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US-built databases a potential tool of Taliban repression

BOSTON (AP) — Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal was to promote law and order and government accountability, and to modernize a war-ravaged land. But in the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power, most of that digital apparatus fell into the hands of an unreliable ruler. Built with few data-protection safeguards, that system now risks becoming a high-tech tool of a surveillance state. As the Taliban get their governing feet, many Afghans worry the databases, including biometrics for tracking individuals, will be wielded to enforce social control and punish perceived foes.

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Kansas City Southern in talks on Canadian Pacific’s $31B bid

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kansas City Southern is in talks with Canadian Pacific to determine whether its $31 billion bid is the best offer on the table after regulators rejected a key part of Canadian National’s $33.6 billion offer last week. Kansas City Southern said Saturday that its board believes CP’s lower offer could be the better deal because the Surface Transportation Board said Canadian National won’t be able to use a voting trust to acquire Kansas City Southern. Canadian Pacific and Kanas City Southern have all week to work out their differences, but CP has put a Sept. 12 deadline on its latest offer.

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Ford hires exec formerly in charge of Apple’s car project

NEW YORK (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has hired a former Apple and Tesla executive to be the company’s head of advanced technology and new embedded systems. It’s a critical position for Ford as the auto industry moves to adopt vehicles powered by electricity and guided by computers. Before Doug Field joined Ford, he was a vice president of special projects at Apple and a engineer at Tesla. Apple has been rumored to be working on its own car project for some time, but the details of that project have been kept under tight wraps. Field also worked on Tesla’s Model 3 vehicle.

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Biden seeking additional funds for Ida relief and Afghans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is asking Congress to approve an additional $24 billion in spending to handle the costs of Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters. It also is seeking $6.4 billion for the resettlement of evacuees from Afghanistan to help with transportation, government processing and public health screenings. Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, laid out the stopgap funding requests in a blog post Tuesday. She says “it’s clear” that Congress will need more time to pass a full 2022 budget to avert a government shutdown when the 2021 fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

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Revlon CEO discusses pandemic beauty habits, staying nimble

NEW YORK (AP) — Revlon was already facing big challenges when Debra Perelman took over as the first woman CEO in its 89-year history in 2018. The publicly traded company backed by her billionaire father Ron Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. had been struggling for years. That includes a heavy debt load, changing consumer tastes and intense competition. Revlon’s problems only intensified with the pandemic, which hurt sales of lipsticks as people masked up and stayed home. But Perelman says she is optimistic about the brand’s future, pointing to steps she has taken to accelerate e-commerce and being more nimble in the face of competition.

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German industrial production picks up after several declines

BERLIN (AP) — Official figures show that German industrial production increased in July after three consecutive months of declines that have reflected supply chain problems. The Economy Ministry said Tuesday that overall production increased by 1% compared with the previous month. In June, it had dropped 1%. There were bigger increases in the production of cars and car parts, which was up 1.9%, and machinery, which rose 6.9%. The ministry said that while delivery problems with semiconductors that have weighed on production are likely to continue for a while, the latest figures suggest that the worst may be over.

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The S&P 500 fell 15.40 points, or 0.3%, to 4,520.03. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 269.09 points, or 0.8%, to 35,100. The Nasdaq rose 10.81 points, or 0.1%, to 15,374.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies shed 16.44 points, or 0.7%, to 2,275.61.