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Gains by banks, technology firms lead US stocks higher

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:17:15 UT

U.S. stocks notched modest gains in afternoon trading Friday as investors cheered a crop of strong company earnings. Technology companies posted some of the biggest gains. Banks and bond yields jumped after the Senate passed a budget bill that eases the path toward passing tax cuts sought by the Trump administration. Consumer products companies lagged the most. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,572 as of 1:07 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 128 points, or 0.6 percent, to 23,291. The Nasdaq composite added 32 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,637. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 8 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,510.

G7 backs internet industry effort to detect, blunt extremism

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:15:55 UT

ISCHIA, Italy (AP) — The Group of Seven industrialized nations threw their support behind a new technology industry alliance aimed at detecting and blunting online propaganda, saying Friday it had a "major role" to play in combatting extremism on the internet. G7 interior ministers meeting in Italy invited representatives from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter to a session Friday dedicated to the fight against terrorism. In a final communique, the ministers pressed the industry as a whole to do more.

KFC Twitter follows 11 Herbs and Spices, intrigues internet

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:07:39 UT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Twitter user has earned kudos online for discovering a subtle message on KFC's account. The KFC account follows just 11 users; five of them are former members of the Spice Girls and the other six are men named Herb, including Green Bay Packers cornerback Herb Waters and music legend Herb Alpert. It adds up to 11 herbs and spices, part of the famous secret recipe KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders touted for his fried chicken. The connection was noticed on Twitter by a user who goes by "Edge." His tweet about it has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on the platform. KFC tells The Associated Press it has been following the 11 Herbs and Spices for about a month.

Hurricane Irma cost Florida 127K jobs, but most will return

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:50:45 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers cut jobs in six U.S. states last month, particularly in hurricane-hit Florida, while hiring increased in five and was mostly unchanged in 39 states. The Labor Department said Friday that Florida lost 127,000 jobs last month, mostly in hotels, restaurants and in construction, after Hurricane Irma flooded much of the state. Texas lost 7,300 jobs, mostly because of Harvey. Most of those job losses will prove temporary, and hiring should bounce back in the coming months. The state data provide a more complete picture of how Hurricanes Harvey and Irma affected the U.S. job market. Nationwide, employers shed 33,000 jobs in September, the government said earlier this month, the first job loss in seven years.

End of an era as Hong Kong stock trading floor set to close

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:29:20 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong's last remaining stock market floor traders are taking their final orders as the exchange prepares to shut its trading hall. The bourse's operator, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, says it will close the trading hall by the end of the month and turn the space into a showcase for the city's financial markets. Yip Wing-keung, a trading manager at brokerage Christfund Securities, donned his red trading jacket for the last time Friday, his final day on the floor. He and the other few floor traders left have been moving out ahead of the closure. The shutdown marks the end of an era for the stock market, which symbolized the city's ascent as an Asian finance hub.

French-led EU push for heftier tax on internet giants stalls

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:26:46 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — France's drive to force internet giants to pay more taxes is losing steam, amid resistance from other EU countries that serve as tax shelters to companies like Apple. Under pressure from Ireland, Luxembourg and Britain, EU leaders in Brussels stopped short of calling for a Europe-wide policy for digital multinationals. The EU's 28 leaders agreed to push for "an effective and fair taxation system fit for the digital era," but said it should be an international system, not just European. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Friday he helped convince EU partners that "we shouldn't disadvantage ourselves in terms of other countries" outside Europe.

Viral smartphone game lets ordinary Chinese 'clap' for Xi

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:52:20 UT

BEIJING (AP) — Ordinary young Chinese may not have paid close attention to Xi Jinping's 3½-hour speech this week, but they're happy to "applaud" the president in the newest viral phenomenon to sweep China's internet. Tencent, the internet giant behind the WeChat messaging app, rolled out a game this week that lets users clap for Xi by pressing on their phone screen as many times as possible in 19 seconds. In just three days, the game has racked up 1.2 billion plays, as many shared their scores on social media and challenged friends. Xi kicked off the ruling Communist Party's 19th national congress this week and declared a "new era" of China's rise on the world stage.

Markets Right Now: Banks, technology lead gains for stocks

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:51:47 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on developments in financial markets (All times local): 11:45 a.m. Stocks are moving higher in midday trading on Wall Street, led by gains in technology companies and banks. Synchrony Financial jumped 4.4 percent Friday and Citizens Financial rose 1.1 percent. Both reported higher earnings than analysts had been expecting. A jump in bond yields was also helping send bank stocks higher. Higher bond yields mean banks can charge higher interest rates on loans such as mortgages. General Electric fell 1.6 percent after slashing its earnings forecast. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,570. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 105 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,267.

Letters from regulators go unanswered, Axon slides

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:37:23 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares in Axon, the maker of Taser stun guns, are down 3 percent after the company revealed that it failed to respond to a series of letters from regulators regarding its financial filings. In a response late Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Axon Enterprises Inc. cited "miscommunication issues." It said it recently became aware of the inquiries, the first dated Aug. 10, and was now trying to resolve the matter. In its final letter to the company on Sept. 20, the SEC said it was terminating the review and would "take further steps as we deem appropriate." The agency declined to comment on Friday. A call and email to Axon for comment were not immediately returned.

At GE, a new urgency to return to industrial roots

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:24:15 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The ambition of new CEO John Flannery to pare away everything that could stand in the way of General Electric's return to its industrial core became clearer Friday with plans to expel more than $20 billion in operations over the next couple of years. The company's third-quarter earnings report shows how much further there is to go before it reaches that goal. GE drastically cut back its expectations for the year and profits fell more sharply than anyone had expected on large restructuring charges. "It's also clear from our current results that we need to make some major changes with urgency and a depth of purpose," Flannery said in a conference call Friday. "Our results are unacceptable, to say the least.

Kids, screens and parental guilt: Time to loosen up?

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:16:51 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Parents of small children have long been hearing about the perils of "screen time." And with more screens, and new technologies such as Amazon's Echo speaker, the message is getting louder. And while plenty of parents are feeling guilty about it, some experts say it might be time to relax a little. Go ahead and hand your kid a gadget now and then to cook dinner or get some work done. Not all kids can entertain themselves quietly, especially when they are young. Try that, and see how long it takes your toddler to start fishing a banana peel out of the overflowing trash can.

US home sales ticked up in September as Houston recovers

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:38:28 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales rose slightly last month as the Houston housing market quickly recovered from Hurricane Harvey. Still, a shortage of available homes is thwarting many would-be buyers and limiting sales. The National Association of Realtors said Friday existing home sales increased 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million. That's the first increase after three months of declines. Yet sales have fallen 1.5 percent from a year ago, the first year-over-year decline since July 2016. That's because so few homes are for sale, particularly at lower prices. Buyers have bid up housing costs: The median home price rose to $245,100, up 4.2 percent from a year ago. That's faster than wage gains.

Education agency blasted amid student loan scam crackdown

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:36:02 UT

Federal and state agencies are cracking down nationally for the first time on scams that gouge student loan borrowers, but critics say the U.S. Department of Education isn't helping. Prosecutors at the Federal Trade Commission, 11 states and the District of Columbia have filed 36 lawsuits and other legal actions against companies they say falsely promise debt relief, charging more than $95 million in illegal fees in recent years. Consumer advocates and members of Congress welcome the ongoing crackdown announced Oct. 13. But they say the Education Department and its contracted loan servicing companies fail to steer borrowers toward appropriate repayment plans, exposing them to fraud.

US home sales rose 0.7 percent in September, as Houston market quickly recovers

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:59:56 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — US home sales rose 0.7 percent in September, as Houston market quickly recovers.

Lithuania goes online with files local spies wrote for KGB

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:27:06 UT

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Cold War-era espionage files that were handwritten by Lithuanians who spied for the Soviet Union are being made available online thanks to a state-funded research institute. Terese Burauskaite, director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania, said Friday the documents ordinary citizens prepared for the KGB reveal "interesting details about how agents worked and reported." Burauskaite says the institute also plans to publish reports agents for the KGB, the main Soviet security agency, wrote about Lithuanian organizations in exile during the former Soviet republic's 1940-1991 Communist regimes.

Global stocks get modest boost from US tax hopes

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:29:45 UT

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets pushed higher Friday after the passing of a budget resolution in the U.S. Senate stoked hopes that President Donald Trump's tax reform package will be enacted. KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 13,018 while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 5,375. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.3 percent higher at 7,542. U.S. shares were poised for a solid opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P futures up 0.2 percent. US TAX PLAN: The Senate on Thursday narrowly approved the budget plan, methodically working through a pack of amendments and rebuffing Democrats' successive attempts to reshape the blueprint and derail the tax cuts.

Japan standards inspectors search Kobe Steel over faked data

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:12:57 UT

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's industrial standards agency searched offices of metals maker Kobe Steel on Friday as investigations into falsified data on its products widened. Company officials told reporters that Japan Quality Assurance inspectors were conducting investigations at a copper plant in Hadano, outside Tokyo. The investigations by regulators and by automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other customers of Kobe Steel followed the company's disclosure earlier this month that inspections data on a slew of products was faked or manipulated. The admissions of misconduct by Kobe Steel and other manufacturers are raising worries over the impact on Japan's image as a top quality manufacturer.

Australian car-making ends with last GM plant closing

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:58:16 UT

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The last mass-produced car designed and built in Australia rolled off General Motors Co.'s production line in the industrial city of Adelaide on Friday as the nation reluctantly bid farewell to its auto manufacturing industry. GM Holden Ltd., an Australian subsidiary of the of a U.S. automotive giant, built its last car almost 70 years after it created Australia's first, the FX Holden, in 1948. Since then, an array of carmakers including Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Chrysler and Leyland have built and closed manufacturing plants in Australia.

Asian shares rise as investors await Japan vote, Fed choice

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:52:42 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares pushed higher on investor optimism over the global outlook despite uncertainties over the outcome of political events in China and Japan and speculation over Trump's choice for the next Fed chief. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 crept less than 0.1 percent higher to 21,451.78 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.4 percent to 2,483.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rebounded 0.8 percent to 28,389.65 after a big selloff the day before while the Shanghai Composite in mainland China edged 0.1 percent higher to 3,371.87. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3 percent to 5,915.10.

Toyota, Honda confirm safety of some Kobe Steel products

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:01:20 UT

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers have confirmed use of Kobe Steel products affected by fake inspection data, but say they have found no safety concerns so far. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. issued statements late Thursday outlining preliminary findings from checks of materials and parts from Kobe Steel. Japanese media cited officials from other automakers making similar announcements. The investigations by automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other customers of Kobe Steel follow the company's disclosure that inspections data on a slew of products was faked or manipulated. The extend of the problem is unclear because both Kobe Steel has not identified the customers affected by name, and it is still investigating the problem.

South Koreans recommend gov't complete 2 nuclear reactors

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 02:42:22 UT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Koreans recommended the government Friday continue building two stalled nuclear reactors that the new president had wanted to shutter, after months of deliberation on the issue that divided South Korea over the future of its key energy source. A state commission that surveyed a panel of 471 citizens said a little over half of them still wanted South Korea to rely less on nuclear energy, even after South Korea resumes constructing the unfinished Shin Kori-5 and Shin Kori-6 reactors. Kim Ji-hyung, head of the commission, said 59.5 percent of the panel supported resumption while 40.5 percent voted for discontinuation.

Workers at iPhone supplier in China protest unpaid bonuses

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:46:45 UT

SHANGHAI (AP) — Hundreds of workers streamed through dark streets, blocking an entrance to an Apple iPhone supplier's factory in eastern China to protest unpaid bonuses and factory reassignments, two witnesses and a U.S. nonprofit group said Thursday. Jabil Inc., which runs the Green Point factory in Wuxi city, maintains that only 20 to 40 employees were actually protesting and the rest were night-shift workers trying to enter the factory, but vowed to take corrective action over the wage dispute. "As long as they can present evidence of promises by brokers we will help them to get paid," said a spokeswoman for U.S.-based Jabil, Lydia Huang.