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Average 30-year mortgage rates rose to 4.45 percent

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:24:47 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates are ticking up slightly this week, the 10th increase in the past 11 weeks. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.45 percent from 4.44 percent last week. Rates are relatively low by historical standards, but they've shot up from an average that remained below 4 percent last year. The benchmark rate averaged 4.23 percent a year ago. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 3.91 percent from 3.90 percent last week.

Stocks sink as investors fear US-China trade tensions

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:20:54 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are sinking and bond prices are climbing as trade tensions between the U.S. and China rise. The Trump administration is expected to announce trade sanctions on China, while the government in Beijing said it will defend itself. Industrial and technology companies took some of the worst losses while banks dipped along with interest rates. Stock indexes in Europe and Asia also fell. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index lost 18 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,694 as of 10:14 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 172 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,520. The Nasdaq composite gave up 45 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,300.

Markets Right Now: China tariff worries sink US stocks

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:41:08 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local): 9:35 a.m. Stocks are opening lower as President Donald Trump is expected to impose trade sanctions on China. The Trump administration is planning to announce tariffs on Chinese products Thursday as well as restrictions on Chinese investments. Investors have worried about rising trade tensions after the administration announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Industrial and technology companies slumped. Boeing dipped 2.3 percent and Caterpillar lost 1.9 percent. Facebook slid 1.8 percent. Investors bought government bonds, sending yields lower. That helped send bank stocks lower. The S&P 500 index skidded 22 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,689.

Israeli firm says it can turn garbage into plastic gold

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:31:32 UT

KIBBUTZ ZEELIM, Israel (AP) — Hawks, vultures and storks circle overhead as Christopher Sveen points at the heap of refuse rotting in the desert heat. "This is the mine of the future," he beams. Sveen is chief operations officer at UBQ, an Israeli company that has patented a process to convert household trash from landfills into reusable plastic. After five years of development, the company is bringing its operations online, with hopes of revolutionizing waste management worldwide and making landfills obsolete. It remains to be seen, however, if the technology really works and is commercially viable.

Steven Wynn selling about 4M shares in Wynn Resorts

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:07:30 UT

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn is selling about 4 million shares that he owns in the casino-operating company. Wynn, who resigned last month from the company bearing his name after women accused him of sexual misconduct, had been the largest shareholder in the company. The stock sale will now make him the third biggest shareholder. Shares of Wynn Resorts Ltd. closed at about $179 on Wednesday, which makes the stock he's selling worth approximately $716 million. Wynn still owns about 8 million shares, or about 7.8 percent, of the company's stock, according to a regulatory filing. Wynn's termination agreement restricts him to selling no more than one-third of his shares in a given quarter.

Global stocks slide amid trade tensions, Fed rate hike

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:52:18 UT

BANGKOK (AP) — Global stock markets fell Thursday as investors braced for trade conflict between economic heavyweights U.S. and China. Beijing said it was prepared to defend its interests as the administration of President Donald Trump prepared to announce tariffs on imports from China. KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.8 percent to 6,986 ahead of a Bank of England monetary policy statement, in which it was expected to keep rates on hold. Germany's DAX lost 1.1 percent to 12,172 and the CAC 40 in France shed 1.1 percent to 5,181. Futures for the S&P 500 lost 0.6 percent and Dow futures gave up 0.7 percent, pointing to a downbeat start in Wall Street.

AP Exclusive: Toy co. CEO leads effort to salvage Toys R Us

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:25:18 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Toy company executive Isaac Larian and other investors have pledged a total of $200 million and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in a bid to save potentially more than half of the 735 Toys R Us stores that will go dark in bankruptcy proceedings. The unsolicited bid faces a number of hurdles like finding other deep-pocketed investors, as well as getting a bankruptcy judge to approve such an unusual plan. It is the first known plan to keep the Toys R Us brand alive. The long-shot bid would be a huge benefit to Larian. Nearly 1 in every 5 sales made by Bratz doll-maker MGA Entertainment, where Larian is CEO, is rung up at a Toys R Us store.

The Latest: German minister seeks explanation from Facebook

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:45:35 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on reports that millions of Facebook users' data was used to target political ads (all times local): 6:45 a.m. Germany's justice minister says she is calling in Facebook's European leadership to explain the scandal involving data mining firm Cambridge Analytica and detail whether German users' data were affected. Katarina Barley said Thursday she has invited Facebook officials to a meeting at her ministry next week, though the exact date has yet to be determined. Barley, who is also responsible for consumer protection, says she wants "comprehensive information" from Facebook, including on "whether German user accounts are affected, and what Facebook plans to do to prevent a repeat of such cases.

China vows to defend its interests against US trade actions

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:32:48 UT

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government vowed Thursday to take "all necessary measures" to defend the country's interests if President Donald Trump targets it for allegedly stealing American technology or pressuring U.S. companies to hand it over. "China will not sit idly to see its legitimate rights damaged and must take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its legitimate rights," the Commerce Ministry in Beijing said in a statement on its website. The Trump administration is expected later Thursday to impose trade sanctions on China, perhaps including restrictions on Chinese investment and tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese products. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that Beijing hoped the U.

Chase rarely lends to DC minorities — and it's likely legal

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:16:26 UT

Across the street from the White House is the U.S. capital's only outpost of the nation's largest bank — tucked away on the ninth floor of a grey stone tower. The bank's name, JPMorgan Chase & Co., appears on the directory in the building's lobby. According tothe company's website , the office features "a team of dedicated specialists" who offer a "comprehensive range of financing choices, including mortgages and lines of credit." But the office is not open to the public. Stop by and security will turn you away. And while the bank has a team of professionals designed to serve the district's rich, it is not technically a branch.

US facing off against AT&T to block merger with Time Warner

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:32:26 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is facing off against AT&T to block the telephone giant from absorbing Time Warner, in a case that could shape how consumers get — and how much they pay for — streaming TV and movies. Opening arguments come Thursday in the landmark antitrust case in federal court in Washington. The Justice Department has sued to block the $85 billion deal, saying it would hurt competition and consumers would have to pay more to watch their favorite shows, whether on a TV screen, smartphone or tablet. AT&T insists the merger is needed to compete in a rapidly shifting marketplace as more people use streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and others.

Deadly crash raises questions about Uber self-driving system

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:59:57 UT

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Video of a deadly self-driving vehicle crash in suburban Phoenix shows a pedestrian walking from a darkened area onto a street just moments before an Uber SUV strikes her. The lights on the SUV didn't illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time. The crash Sunday night in Tempe was the first death involving a full autonomous test vehicle. The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it struck Herzberg, police said. The video shows the human backup driver in the SUV looking down until seconds before the crash.

Can Zuckerberg's media blitz take the pressure off Facebook?

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:38:05 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — In the wake of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg embarked on a rare media mini-blitz in an attempt to take some of the public and political pressure off the social network. But it's far from clear whether he's won over U.S. and European authorities, much less the broader public whose status updates provide Facebook with an endless stream of data it uses to sell targeted ads. On Wednesday, the generally reclusive Zuckerberg sat for an interview on CNN and gave another to the publication Wired, addressing reports that Cambridge Analytica purloined the data of more than 50 million Facebook users in order to sway elections.

NKorean sanctions evasions reveal Hong Kong's middleman role

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:02:53 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — In the dead of night last month, two tanker ships pulled alongside each other in the East China Sea. One was a North Korean vessel, the other was the Belize-flagged Wan Heng 11. Lights on both ships were blazing, arousing a Japanese spy plane's suspicion they were carrying out a "ship-to-ship" transfer banned under United Nations sanctions imposed over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Records for the Wan Heng and a number of other ships identified in recent U.N. and U.S. sanctions blacklists and Japanese surveillance reports reveal ties to Hong Kong through front companies based here.

Starbucks offers sparkling Crystal Ball Frappucino for buzz

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:31:08 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks, thirsty for some social media magic, is releasing its latest sugary concoction: the fortune-telling Crystal Ball Frappucino. The sparkling candy sprinkles-festooned drink will be available for five days in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It follows similar limited-time drinks, such as the coffee chain's color-changing Unicorn Frappuccino. Starbucks hopes the cream-based new drink, which is infused with peach flavor, will be photographed by customers, posted on social media and spread around. It's a strategy that's worked for other chains, such as Taco Bell with its cheese-powdered Doritos tacos.

With fate of economy in his hands, Powell plays it low-key

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 04:17:05 UT

In his first news conference as head of the world's leading central bank, Jerome Powell avoided any professorial lectures. His replies were briefer than his predecessors'. He said nothing of himself personally. He projected the air of an experienced technocrat, more steeped in finance than the complexities of economic theory. If anyone was wondering how the new chairman of the Federal Reserve would differ from his two immediate predecessors, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, Wednesday's exchange with reporters offered some clues. Powell, unlike the longtime scholars Yellen and Bernanke, is not an economist. He hasn't spent years delving into why economic growth leaves behind some segments of society.

Asian shares mixed after Fed raises interest rates

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 04:01:27 UT

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia early Thursday after U.S. stock indexes finished with small losses following the Federal Reserve's hike in interest rates. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5 percent to 21,488.07 while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.5 percent to 2,498.17. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.5 percent to 31,267.45 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.8 percent to 3,254.31. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,935.80. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia. WALL STREET: Major U.S. stock indexes fell Wednesday while smaller companies fared better. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates, as investors expected, and said it could raise rates at a quicker pace next year.

Facebook's Zuckerberg apologizes for 'major breach of trust'

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:52:03 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Breaking five days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for a "major breach of trust," admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. "I am really sorry that happened," Zuckerberg said of the scandal involving data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has a "responsibility" to protect its users' data, he said in a Wednesday interview on CNN. If it fails, he said, "we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people." His mea culpa on cable television came a few hours after he acknowledged his company's mistakes in a Facebook post , but without saying he was sorry. Zuckerberg and Facebook's No.

Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:35:55 UT

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Video of a deadly self-driving vehicle crash in suburban Phoenix shows a pedestrian walking from a darkened area onto a street just moments before an Uber SUV strikes her. The lights on the SUV didn't illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time. The crash Sunday night in Tempe was the first death involving a full autonomous test vehicle. The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it struck Herzberg, police said. The video shows the human backup driver in the SUV looking down until seconds before the crash.

New Mexico regulators OK massive wind farms near Texas

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:50:46 UT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators on Wednesday approved a $1.6 billion plan that calls for building two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border. The unanimous vote by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission marks one of the key steps needed for Xcel Energy to move forward with its plans. Texas regulators are expected to act on the proposal in the coming weeks. Xcel Energy says the proposed wind farms would take advantage of what has become the least expensive generating resource in the region to reduce fuel costs and ultimately save customers money on their monthly bills. The project is part of major investment the company is making in wind energy across its entire service area.

NYC agency investigating more than a dozen Kushner buildings

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:40:15 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's buildings regulator launched investigations at more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties Wednesday following an Associated Press report that the real estate developer routinely filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city. The Department of Buildings is investigating possible "illegal activity" involving applications that sought permission to begin construction work at 13 of the developer's buildings, according to public records maintained by the regulator. The AP reported Sunday that Kushner Cos. stated in more than 80 permit applications that it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings when it, in fact, had hundreds.

The Latest: Zuckerberg says it's time to regulate tech firms

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:27:41 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the alleged use of Facebook data to influence the U.S. presidential election (all times local): 10:20 p.m. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he believes it's time to impose more regulations on technology companies as they play an increasingly important role in the world. But he isn't spelling what kind of rules he would support beyond requiring clear disclosure about who is paying for online ads. Zuckerberg told CNN in an interview late Wednesday that it no longer is a question whether Facebook and other large tech companies should be more closely regulated. Instead, he says lawmakers need to work with companies to figure out what regulations make the most sense.