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Japan inflation ticks up in April as oil prices rebound

Fri, 26 May 2017 03:11:25 UT

Energy inflation will likely peak in the July-September quarter and then weaken, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary. Since wage growth remains weak, cost pressures are not strong enough to sustain stronger inflation.

Asian shares mixed as oil's fall counters Wall St gains

Fri, 26 May 2017 03:02:29 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stock markets are mixed Friday as investors weighed Wall Street's latest gains on strong earnings reports against the latest oil production cut, which dragged down crude prices and commodity shares. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.3 percent to 19,761.98 but South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.4 percent to 2,353.07. An alliance of oil-producing nations extended production cuts for nine months to shore up crude prices. QUOTEWORTHY: "The extent of oil's selloff demonstrates that, even with the extended production cuts now agreed, the U.S. oil price may struggle to get past the early to mid-$50's range for some time yet," said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets.

Utah law that could send online bullies to jail criticized

Fri, 26 May 2017 01:28:46 UT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers hope a new, unusual law cuts down on increasingly troubling forms of cyber harassment by giving authorities the ability to send online bullies to jail for a year. Law enforcement, school officials and support groups back the effort, but some lawyers and a libertarian-leaning group have balked at what they call vague language in the law. The regulation won unanimous approval in the Legislature and makes it a crime to post information online that can identify someone, including their name, photo and place of employment, to "intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another." An advocacy group says the measure might have helped a gay Utah State University student who was afraid to come forward in 2013 to report being sexually assaulted after someone started posting his photo and phone number on Craigslist along with details on the forms of sex he was interested in.

Pyongyang gas price surge: Bad news for Kim Jong Un?

Fri, 26 May 2017 00:39:55 UT

TOKYO (AP) — While world attention has focused on Kim Jong Un's recent missile tests, a monthlong surge in gasoline prices in Pyongyang is showing no signs of letting up — a puzzling problem that if allowed to drag on could be very bad news for the North Korean economy. The North's by now pervasive market economy, which is tolerated by the ruling regime in exchange for its own cut of the profits, has made fuel and the ability to transport goods and people so essential that demand for gasoline is not so sensitive to price. The long queues and mad dashes to fill gas tanks and large plastic storage cans that marked the beginning days of the surge appear to have subsided, though stations' operations remain irregular and unpredictable. North Korean gas stations generally belong to chains associated with large government enterprises or sometimes the military. Gas prices can also rise in tandem with the farming cycle, when more fuel is needed for tractors and pumps. North Korea completed construction of a major high-rise residential area in the capital and held a lavish celebration and military parade last month. The more central role played by capitalist-style markets in the North Korean economy, he believes, has amplified the impact of speculative buying and selling and the price-gouging in uncertain times that goes along with it. In any case, Brown said, the volatility of gasoline prices underscores the North's dependence on markets that have expanded dramatically since Kim Jong Un took power more than five years ago.

Zuckerberg urges Harvard grads to build a world of 'purpose'

Fri, 26 May 2017 00:39:47 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Zuckerberg returned Thursday to Harvard, where he launched Facebook and then dropped out, telling graduates it's up to them to bring purpose to the world, fight inequality and strengthen the global community. He shared stories about graduates such as David Razu Aznar, a former city leader who led the effort to legalize gay marriage in Mexico City, and Agnes Igoye, who grew up in conflict zones in Uganda and now trains law enforcement officers. In February, he sketched out an ambitious, if vague, vision for Facebook that committed the company to developing "social infrastructure" that would help build a "global community that works for all of us." It has connected people who would have never met otherwise, letting them form supportive networks online and offline. [...] it has allowed people to communicate in developing countries even if they don't have a phone number or a smartphone. [...] it has also served to spread misinformation bordering on propaganda, hateful views and bullying, reflecting the worst parts of humanity back to us. Later in the speech, Zuckerberg's voice cracked with emotion as he talked about a high school student he mentors who is living in the U.S. illegally. Others receiving honorary degrees included the actress Judi Dench, the composer John Williams (known for Star Wars, ''Harry Potter and many other scores) and Somali human rights activist and physician Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe.

A tranquil beach getaway for only $260K

Thu, 25 May 2017 23:25:41 UT

Acquiring a second home for vacation purposes is something that's normally associated with a "lifestyle of the rich and fabulous" variety – especially if it's a waterfront property. But apparently it doesn't have to be.

Court rules Wells subject to penalty on foreign tax credits

Thu, 25 May 2017 23:09:22 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal court has ruled that Wells Fargo is liable for a negligence penalty in a tax case that involved foreign tax credits, but the bank prevailed in another part of the case that could mute any payment. A court found Wells liable for a 20 percent penalty Wednesday tied to tax credits, but also that it could deduct interest expenses from the loan.

GM denies allegations that it cheats on diesel emissions

Thu, 25 May 2017 23:02:30 UT

The lawsuit filed by lawyers for two truck owners in U.S. District Court in Detroit alleges that trucks with Duramax diesel engines have three devices on them that are rigged to allow more pollution on the road than during treadmill tests in the Environmental Protection Agency laboratory. "The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) emissions regulations," the company said in a statement. The complaint on behalf of the truck owners alleges that the devices were installed on diesel engines in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups. The lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks punitive damages, restitution, and recovery of the purchase price of the trucks or the decrease in their values because of the devices.

Business Highlights

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:27:56 UT

People shopping for insurance through the Affordable Care Act in yet more regions will be facing higher prices and fewer choices next year as insurance companies lay out their early plans for 2018. WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll says 56 percent of Americans age 40 and over think Medicare should have a major role in paying for ongoing living assistance. NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard graduates it is up to their generation to create a purpose for today's world, to care about others, to fight inequality and strengthen the global community. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker named a new head of global product development as well as new heads of its operations in North America, Europe and Asia. (AP) — A trip taken by two Associated Press journalists shows the difference traveling with elite status can make. WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's proposal to sell nearly half the U.S. emergency oil stockpile is renewing debate over the need for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. An ongoing oil production boom that has seen imports drop sharply in the past decade has people questioning the reserve's future. WASHINGTON (AP) — Restaurants, grocers and other businesses celebrated as House Republicans backed off efforts to eliminate the cap on fees that banks can charge retailers when customers use a debit card. NEW YORK (AP) — The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite set record highs as strong earnings from retailers like Best Buy and PVH help stocks rise for the sixth day in a row. Oil-producing nations said they will extend their production cuts for another nine months, but oil prices plunge.

In His Words: Mark Zuckerberg addresses Harvard Class of '17

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:26:20 UT

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a commencement speech at Harvard University on Thursday, 12 years after dropping out to focus on what's now the world's biggest social network. President Faust, Board of Overseers, faculty, alumni, friends, proud parents, members of the ad board, and graduates of the greatest university in the world: How many of you remember exactly what you were doing when you got that email telling you that you got into Harvard? I was playing "Civilization" and I ran downstairs, got my dad, and for some reason, his reaction was to video me opening the email. Mine was Computer Science 121 with the incredible Harry Lewis. [...] any of you graduating can use that line. Today I want to talk about purpose. [...] I'm here to tell you finding your purpose isn't enough. Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void. To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge — to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose. You see, my hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact. [...] as all these people started joining us, I just assumed that's what they cared about too, so I never explained what I hoped we'd build. Without a sense of higher purpose, this was the startup dream come true. After one tense argument, an adviser told me if I didn't agree to sell, I would regret the decision for the rest of my life. Relationships were so frayed that within a year or so every single person on the management team was gone. Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by buildi

Best Buy and Alphabet climb while Brown-Forman falls

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:08:19 UT

The electronics retailer issued a strong first-quarter report, including better sales of mobile devices and gaming products. The jewelry company's profit and sales fell far short of analyst expectations. Oil-producing nations extended the production cut they implemented last year, but energy companies and oil prices fell.

Costco shares rise as earnings top Wall Street expectations

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:55:09 UT

(AP) — Costco shares rose in after-hours trading after the warehouse club company reported earnings that topped Wall Street expectations. The Issaquah, Washington-based company said Thursday that net income in its most recent quarter came to $700 million, or $1.59 per share, up from $545 million, or $1.24 per share, in the same period last year. Stripping out one-time items, earnings came to $1.40 per share in the quarter that ended May 7; analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research predicted $1.31 per share.

Dear, Harvard: 10 memorable quotes from Zuckerberg's speech

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:40:21 UT

Dear, Harvard: 10 memorable quotes from Zuckerberg's speech Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard with a message on fighting inequality and taking risks in the name of innovation. Zuckerberg, who, like the graduates, is a millennial, started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004. If I had to know everything about connecting people before I got started, I never would have built Facebook. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can't even afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. [...] I promise you, if you just take an hour or two a week — that's all it takes to give someone a hand and help them reach their potential. [...] it's tough to care about people in other places when we don't first feel good about our lives here at home. The forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism.

How major US stock market indexes fared on Thursday

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:37:05 UT

How major US stock market indexes fared on Thursday U.S. stocks climbed for the sixth day in a row Thursday as strong first-quarter results from retailers like Best Buy and PVH led indexes to record highs. The Dow Jones industrial average added 70.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,082.95.

Markets Right Now: Retail gains send indexes to record highs

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:07:11 UT

Stocks indexes closed at record highs on Wall Street again as the market posted its sixth straight gain, its longest winning streak in three months. The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite closed at all-time highs Thursday. Stocks are climbing for the sixth day in a row as strong results from retailers send major indexes back to all-time highs. The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite are trading at record highs Thursday. Best Buy soared 18 percent after reporting earnings and sales that beat analysts' forecasts. A strong batch of earnings from retailers including Best Buy is sending stock prices higher in early trading on Wall Street.

Sears revenue continues decline amid tough landscape

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:38:04 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Sears' extended decline in sales persisted during the first quarter and the storied retailer vowed to make additional spending cuts to offset its slowing business. "While this was certainly a challenging quarter for our company, it was also one that clearly demonstrated our commitment to return Sears Holdings to solid financial footing," Chairman Eddie Lampert said in a company release. "Sears does not appear well positioned for the rest of 2017," Melich said, citing its weak store base, anemic sales and continued market share loss in most major categories.

Ford shuffles management team as new CEO takes helm

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:54:38 UT

The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker named a new head of global product development Thursday, as well as new heads of its operations in North America, Europe and Asia. "The leadership changes we are announcing today across our global business are important as we foster even greater teamwork, accountability and nimble decision-making," Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a company release. Hackett and Ford's Executive Chairman Bill Ford said earlier this week that the management changes are intended to help the company make big, strategic decisions more quickly.

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 3.95 pct, 2017 low

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:53:25 UT

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans tumbled to 3.95 percent from 4.02 percent last week. U.S. stock prices climbed for the sixth day in a row Thursday, following steep drops last week amid concern over political turmoil in Washington. Absorbing the earlier market declines, bond prices rose this past week and pushed down yields on long-term Treasury bonds — which mortgage rates tend to follow.

Qatar hack, bloody Bahrain raid follow Trump's Mideast trip

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:52:39 UT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar found itself on the defensive once again Thursday as more Arab nations blocked access to websites of its flagship Al-Jazeera news network, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast visit positioned America squarely with Sunni Arab countries against Shiite power Iran. Bahrain and Egypt joined Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in blocking the websites, the latest development in a regional crisis sparked by what Qatar described as hackers publishing fake comments on Iran and other issues via its state-run news agency this week. While Trump's visit reassured a six-nation Saudi-led Gulf alliance of its regional standing, tiny, energy-rich Qatar has found itself on the fringes of the Western-backed alliance as the hack rekindled long-standing suspicions over its support of Islamists. [...] the peninsular nation's relations with its neighbors were thrown into chaos this week after Qatari authorities say its state-run news agency was hacked. Messages on the news agency's Twitter account that Qatar also blamed on the hackers said it planned to recall some of its ambassadors from Arab nations.

10-word answers (or less) to your life insurance questions

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:34:41 UT

If you're thinking about buying life insurance, it helps to know some basics. How do I figure out how much life insurance I need? Can I buy life insurance on an adult family member? What causes of death are covered on a life insurance policy? What is term life insurance? If I have term life insurance, what happens to the money I've paid if I'm still alive at the end of the term? The insurance company keeps it (unless your policy refunds it). What's good about term life insurance? What is permanent life insurance? What's life insurance "cash value"? What's good about permanent life insurance? What's the downside of permanent life insurance? Many term life policies are convertible to permanent coverage. What can you do with life insurance cash value? Can I take money out of a term life insurance policy? Do I have to take a life insurance medical exam when I apply? Email staff writer Barbara Marquand: .

US home equity is back, so why aren't more people borrowing?

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:19:12 UT

Americans have long borrowed against the ownership stakes in their homes to buy cars, build decks and renovate houses. Many households would like to borrow more through home equity credit lines or cash-outs from loan refinancings. By contrast, the kind of debt that fuels consumption — credit card borrowing as well as housing debt — remains well-below pre-recession peaks. Research from the New York Fed suggests that if home-equity-related borrowing were to regain healthier levels — dating to the early 2000s, before the housing bubble — the economy could accelerate by three-quarters of a percentage point a year. Partly as a result, Americans have increased spending an average of just 2.3 percent a year since 2009, when the recession ended, just two-thirds of the historical norm. Because consumer spending drives about 70 percent of the economy, that weaker pace has hobbled growth. "The previous behavior of using housing debt to finance other kinds of consumption seems to have completely disappeared," William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, said in a speech earlier this year. Americans borrowed an average of $181 billion annually against homes from 2000 through 2003, before the reckless borrowing of the housing bubble, New York Fed economists found. "There's been a really striking shift, with a whole class of scores that are no longer getting loans," said Bill Nelson, deputy chief economist at The Clearing House, a banking trade group. In the summer and fall of last year, about one-third of banks reported rising demand for home equity credit lines, according to the Fed. Dynan also notes that given the wild fluctuation in home prices since 2006, some Americans now see housing wealth as akin to volatile assets like stocks and may be more hesitant to spend it. "If households and lenders again become comfortable with financing consumption with debt in addition to income, this will provide additional

Lounges vs. lines: Testing travel with and without perks

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:33:55 UT

(AP) — Summer travelers may well find themselves stuck in long security lines and squeezed into cramped seats. For frequent travelers, or those who can and want to pay extra, perks are available including upgrades to first-class seats, airport lounges and free food. The Associated Press sent two journalists on a two-day visit to Orlando, Florida — one with perks, and one without. Scott Mayerowitz, who until recently covered the airline industry, has elite status with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. Premium credit cards aimed at frequent travelers get him into airport lounges. Scott breezed through the TSA's checkpoint in less than 2 minutes without having to take off his shoes. There was also a delay after she forgot to remove a bottle of water from her purse, and found herself waiting shoeless for her belongings as a TSA agent searched her bag. On the return flight, Scott cleared security in about 3 minutes. Scott headed for the roomy airline lounge, and took advantage of the free Wi-Fi, newspapers and breakfast spread that included bagels, muffins, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt and coffee. A day pass costs more than $50, but credit cards aimed at frequent travelers often include lounge access as one benefit that comes with a hefty annual fee of $450 to $550. Scott's airline status means he boards early, and often gets upgraded for free to first class — where there are no middle seats and passengers still get hot meals. Scott was rousted from sleep at 6:45 a.m. the next morning, when an electrical fire meant an evacuation and a trek down 26 flights of stairs.