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Global shares becalmed by lull in market-moving news

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 08:30:18 UT

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed Friday as trading was becalmed by a lull in market-moving news. [...] foreign exchange markets reacted by pushing the euro higher. [...] growing nervousness over U.S. politics and weak commodity prices has set a soft tone for this morning's market open, Ric Spooner of CMC Markets said in a commentary. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 18 cents to $47.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, added 29 cents to $49.59 a barrel in London.



China announces goal of AI leadership by 2030

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:00:07 UT

BEIJING (AP) — China's government has announced a goal of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting political muscle behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing self-driving cars and other advances. Artificial intelligence is one of the emerging fields along with renewable energy, robotics and electric cars where communist leaders hope to take an early lead and help transform China from a nation of factory workers and farmers into a technology pioneer. [...] previous initiatives to develop Chinese capabilities in solar power and other technologies have included research grants and regulations to encourage sales and exports.



Cops wage psychological warfare against online drug bazaars

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:09:26 UT

HOUSTON (AP) — In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace — then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. Darknet vendors are "pouring fuel on the fire of the national drug epidemic," he said, specifically citing cases of two U.S. teenagers killed this year, one a 13-year-old Utah boy, by overdoses of synthetic opioids purchased on AlphaBay. Other illicit wares for sale included weapons, counterfeit and stolen identification and malware. A California indictment named AlphaBay's founder as Alexandre Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian who died in Thai police custody on July 12. The country's narcotics police chief told reporters Cazes hanged himself in jail just prior to a scheduled court hearing. Nicolas Christin, a darknet expert at Carnegie Mellon University, called the one-two takedown punch "psychological warfare." Dutch cybercrime prosecutor Martijn Egberts said Dutch police had scooped up some 10,000 addresses for Hansa buyers outside Holland. Merchants and buyers keep their identities secret by using encrypted communications and anonymity-providing tools such as the Tor browser. According to the indictment, he accidentally broadcast his personal Hotmail address in welcome messages sent to new users.



Asian shares meander as ECB, BOJ hold monetary policy steady

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:02:51 UT

Asian shares meander as ECB, BOJ hold monetary policy steady TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Friday in muted trading after the European Central Bank announced no changes to its stimulus policies. [...] growing nervousness over U.S. politics and weak commodity prices has set a soft tone for this morning's market open, Ric Spooner of CMC Markets said in a commentary. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 3 cents to $46.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 5 cents to $49.35 a barrel in London.



IMF approves conditional $1.8 billion loan to Greece

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:19:24 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund's board on Thursday approved a $1.8 billion loan to Greece — but will only release the money if the country gets debt relief from its European creditors. [...] the lending agency is pressuring Greece's eurozone lenders to provide enough relief to ensure the battered country can pay its bills.



Cops wage psychological warfare against online drug bazaars

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:41:09 UT

HOUSTON (AP) — In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace — then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. Darknet vendors are "pouring fuel on the fire of the national drug epidemic," he said, specifically citing cases of two U.S. teenagers killed this year, one a 13-year-old Utah boy, by overdoses of synthetic opioids purchased on AlphaBay. Other illicit wares for sale included weapons, counterfeit and stolen identification and malware. A California indictment named AlphaBay's founder as Alexandre Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian who died in Thai police custody on July 12. The country's narcotics police chief told reporters Cazes hanged himself in jail just prior to a scheduled court hearing. Nicolas Christin, a darknet expert at Carnegie Mellon University, called the one-two takedown punch "psychological warfare." Dutch cybercrime prosecutor Martijn Egberts said Dutch police had scooped up some 10,000 addresses for Hansa buyers outside Holland. Merchants and buyers keep their identities secret by using encrypted communications and anonymity-providing tools such as the Tor browser. According to the indictment, he accidentally broadcast his personal Hotmail address in welcome messages sent to new users.



US says ban on laptops in airplane cabins has been lifted

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:33:25 UT

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that all airlines and airports with flights departing for the U.S. had met the agency's first phase of new security measures, which were announced in late June but not described in any detail. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the laptop ban was a "pause," a stopgap measure until airports could make other security improvements. [...] the Federal Aviation Administration is telling airlines that that devices with lithium batteries should be put in carry-on baggage and not placed in checked luggage — the advice that existed before the March order covering large electronics devices in the cabin.



Microsoft 4Q gets boost from cloud computing

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:45:45 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft's cloud computing business helped boost its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings above Wall Street's expectations, further validating a strategy pushed by CEO Satya Nadella since he took over in 2014. The company reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $6.51 billion, or 83 cents per share. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for adjusted earnings of 71 cents per share. On Thursday it recorded $306 million in fourth-quarter employee-severance expenses related to a sales and marketing restructuring plan.



Alexa, turn up my Kenmore AC; Sears cuts a deal with Amazon

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:06:06 UT

Sears, which also owns Kmart, said that its Kenmore Smart appliances will be fully integrated with Amazon's Alexa, allowing users to control things like air conditioners through voice commands. "The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.," Sears Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert said in a company release. Sears has struggled with weak sales for years, and announced more store closings earlier this month, partly due to the emergence of Amazon.com and other internet operators.



Business Highlights

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:02:17 UT

BEIJING (AP) — China is tightening control over use of virtual private networks in a move that foreign companies worry might disrupt their operations or jeopardize trade secrets and information about customers. In a letter to corporate customers, the biggest Chinese internet service provider says VPNs can connect only to a company's headquarters abroad — not to any other sites outside China. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department is imposing a $2 million fine on Exxon Mobil Corp. for showing "reckless disregard" for U.S. sanctions on Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil giant's CEO. NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks wobble between little gains and losses and finish about where they started after Europe's central bank leaves its economic stimulus policies unchanged. Health care companies rise following some solid earnings reports while rough results hurt companies that make basic materials. CHICAGO (AP) — President Donald Trump's administration has ended Affordable Care Act contracts that brought assistance into neighborhoods in 18 cities, meaning shoppers on the insurance exchanges will have fewer places to turn for help signing up for coverage. PARIS (AP) — Two of the world's most notorious digital marketplaces have been knocked out in a one-two punch that officials say yielded a trove of new intelligence about the drug merchants that operate in the hidden corners of the internet. The darknet, a part of the internet accessible only through specialized anonymity-providing tools, is an attractive place for sales of drugs, weapons and other illegal merchandise. DETROIT (AP) — In a tantalizing Tweet, Elon Musk says he has "verbal government approval" to build a tunnel for high-speed transportation from New York to Washington. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 33 cents to $46.79 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, sank 40 cents to $49.30 a barrel



Visa's third-quarter profit beats expectations

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:45:35 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Payment processing giant Visa said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose sharply from a year earlier, following its purchase of Visa Europe. The company's fortunes are directly tied into how much consumers spend on its network versus using cash, an American Express card or MasterCard. The high-end premium credit card has become one of the most popular credit cards on the market, and has been particularly well-liked by younger customers. The dollar amount of credit card transactions processed on Visa's network was up 18 percent from year earlier, compared with a more modest growth in debit card processing of 5.4 percent.



Musk says government likes plan for high-speed tunnels

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:43:07 UT

DETROIT (AP) — Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk says he has "verbal government approval" to build a tunnel for high-speed transportation from New York to Washington that could break ground by the end of this year. [...] the White House confirmed it had "positive discussions" about the tunnel with Musk and executives from his underground drilling enterprise, The Boring Co. A White House spokesman wouldn't say who talked to Musk or whether he met with officials in person. Musk runs electric car company Tesla Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp., among other ventures. [...] some cast doubt on his timeline, pointing out that Musk would have to get approval from dozens of players, including federal, state and local officials.



PPG and C.H. Robinson slip while Abbott and Sears advance

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:21:03 UT

The maker of infant formula, drugs and medical devices reported second-quarter results that were better than expected. The equipment rental company raised its sales forecast after the amount of equipment being rented climbed in the second quarter. The manager of loyalty and rewards programs cut its profit forecast because of weak results from its brand loyalty business.



How major US stock market indexes fared on Thursday

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:33:58 UT

How major US stock market indexes fared on Thursday NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes essentially hit the snooze bar Thursday as investors were relieved the European Central Bank didn't announce any changes to its stimulus policies. The Nasdaq composite added 4.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,390.



Target Corp. to phase out Cartwheel Perks rewards program

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:25:20 UT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target Corp. is ending the Cartwheel Perks rewards program that it began testing in five markets last year. The Star Tribune reports (http://strib.mn/2uDMb1A ) that the program was part of the company's Cartwheel app, which provides in-store shoppers with digital coupons for extra savings when they check out.



Markets Right Now: US struggle to a mixed finish

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:08:57 UT

U.S. stocks are struggling to a mixed finish after a day of up-and-down trading. The Dow Jones industrial average's loss was due entirely to Home Depot, which slumped 4 percent after Sears announced a deal to sell appliances on Amazon.com. Health care companies including Abbott Laboratories rose, while weaker reports put a dent in industrial and basic materials companies. U.S. stocks are wavering between small gains and losses in midday trading, a day after closing at record highs. Health care companies are gaining Thursday, but industrial companies are lower. Major U.S. stock indexes are inching further into record territory early Thursday, led by more gains in health care and technology companies.



Seattle's priciest new listing is a $5.95M Mediterranean gem

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:05:49 UT

Broadmoor has not carved out a space as one of the more notorious Seattle neighborhoods like, say, Capitol Hill or Fremont have. But nestled between Madison Park and Washington Park Arboretum, it's definitely still a distinctive Seattle neighborhood.




Corporate career to entrepreneur: How to prep for the leap

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:09:07 UT

After two decades in the workforce, Ohio businesswoman Deborah Wasylko found herself faced with the prospect of having to move to keep her job while dealing with challenges in her family life. In addition to many logistical and financial challenges, the transition from employee to entrepreneur involves a distinct shift in mentality. The best way to prepare for the jump from a corporate job to calling the shots is to talk with those who have already made the transition. Ask other entrepreneurs how their roles in corporate America prepared — or failed to prepare — them to run a small business. A mentor can help you turn your understanding of corporate goals into a business strategy by clarifying your vision. The skills you developed in a corporate environment — project management, organizational skills, employee management — will be even more important, says Posner. Wasylko particularly appreciates having learned in the corporate arena how to remain calm in the spotlight, giving presentations in front of executives or large crowds. After JJ DiGeronimo transitioned from Silicon Valley startups to running a consulting firm for women in tech fields, she found she had to redefine what success looked like. In a corporate environment, you've likely already dipped your toes in the networking pool. Networking events are also a good place to meet other business owners with whom you can collaborate, Posner says.



US weekly requests for jobless aid fall to 233,000

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:02:30 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, as the number of people seeking benefits stayed near historic lows, pointing to a robust job market. Consistent hiring has helped sustain the gradual recovery, although the expansion is starting to show its age as the pace of job gains has slowed this year. The Labor Department's report for June showed that U.S. employers added a robust 222,000 jobs, the most in four months and a reassuring sign that businesses may be confident enough to keep hiring despite a slow-growing economy.



Honorably discharged veterans will soon get to shop tax-free

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:47:08 UT

Adding 13 million potential new customers will give extra ammunition to the group that runs the stores on U.S. Army and Air Force bases worldwide as it fights Amazon and other retailers for veterans' online shopping dollars. Since hiring its first civilian CEO five years ago, the Exchange has upgraded the brands at base stores to include items like Disney toys, Michael Kors fashions and other top names. Under Shull's leadership, the Exchange stores have traded their industrial feel and reliance on off-brand merchandise for a more modern look featuring well-known labels. Two-thirds of the main Exchange store at Offutt Air Force Base resembles any department store, with prominent displays of name-brand makeup, Nike fitness gear and Carter's clothes for kids. The Exchanges don't pay rent for their military base locations, and the government transports some of their supplies and goods to far-flung locations, but otherwise they operate mostly like an independent retailer. Of last year's profit, $225 million was returned to the defense department to help pay for quality-of-life programs on bases like child development and fitness centers. Besides the main stores, the Exchanges also operate more than 70 movie theaters and bring in franchise restaurants and other vendors for the shopping malls it operates on bases.



Average US mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 3.96 percent

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:18:50 UT

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average 3.96 percent from 4.03 percent last week. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate home loans, popular with homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, eased to 3.23 percent from 3.29 percent last week. Mortgage rates still remain historically low even though the Federal Reserve has begun to ratchet up short-term interest rates.



Coal, industrial shipments boost Union Pacific's 2Q profit

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:46:55 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Union Pacific Corp. reported a boost in second-quarter profit on Thursday as coal and industrial product shipments pushed revenue higher. Competitor CSX also reported more coal shipments during its second quarter, though it expects coal to continue its long-term decline as utilities switch to cheaper natural gas. Revenue from industrial products rose 24 percent to $1.03 billion during the quarter, making up the bulk of the overall results.