Update on the latest in business:

Posted January 13


Asian stocks mixed after China data

Asian stock markets were mixed today as disappointing Chinese trade data dented already bleak investor sentiment following U.S. President-elect's Donald Trump's news conference. The U.S. dollar rebounded.

Customs data showed that Chinese exports sank 6.1 percent in December from a year earlier. In November, China's exports eked out a 0.1 percent expansion after shrinking for nine straight months. Imports rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. stock markets finished moderately lower. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 63.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,891. The average had briefly been down more than 183 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,270.44. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,547.49.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose slightly to remain above $53 per barrel.

The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.


Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

The Commerce Department releases two reports today: retail sales data for December; and business inventories in November.

Also, the Labor Department reports on U.S. producer price inflation in December.

Two big financial institutions report quarterly earnings before the market opens. They're Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.


Trump plan to donate foreign hotel profits can't be checked

It's a public relations win for the president-elect: Donald Trump's company says it will donate profits from any foreign governments that use his hotels. In practice, however, experts say the public may never know if any money changes hands.

Several experts panned the idea as an unenforceable PR move.

The donations pledge only includes his hotels, meaning golf courses and other properties are exempt. The policy appears to apply only to "foreign governments," — a narrow description that seems to overlook governments that use a third-party vendor to do business with Trump. It does not apply to domestic interests, including companies that may have regulatory business before the government, or domestic lobbyists.

Steven Carvell, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration professor, said it's not impossible — but is challenging and unusual — to try to calculate "profit" on an individual room or venue rental. Typically, that's assessed monthly or quarterly and for an entire category — such as the rooms or food and beverage department — within a property.

Some ethics attorneys have argued that some of his international work and foreign government guests at his hotels will put him in violation of a clause in the Constitution that prohibits presidents from accepting gifts and payments from foreign governments without congressional approval.

Trump's lawyer argues that fair-value exchanges, such as leasing venue space at a hotel, do not violate the clause.


NY financier set to join Trump White House

A prominent New York financier is set to be named a top White House adviser to President-elect Donald Trump.

Anthony Scaramucci will be tasked with outreach to the U.S. business and political community.

That's according to two sources with knowledge of the appointment not authorized to discuss that matter publicly.

Scaramucci was a top fundraiser during the campaign. He joins a growing contingent of former Goldman Sachs employees now set to join the new administration. Others include Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon and Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin.

Scaramucci's title is still being determined. He will likely head what was considered the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs under President George W. Bush and is now run by Valerie Jarrett, a top aide to President Barack Obama.


Trump to appoint another Goldman Sachs executive

WASHINGTON— President-elect Donald Trump says he plans to appoint Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell to a senior role in his administration.

Trump announced Thursday that Powell will serve as assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives. She will work on entrepreneurship, small business development and the empowerment of women, he said.

Powell is currently global head of impact investing at Goldman Sachs and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. She recently has acted as an informal adviser to Ivanka Trump, who is focused on issues affecting women and families.

Powell is one of several former Goldman Sachs executives entering the Trump administration, including Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO'-chin), Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, who worked there for 17 years.


China exports shrink as Trump trade tensions loom

China's exports fell back into contraction last month, signaling renewed weakness for the world's second biggest economy as it faces possible trade tensions under Donald Trump's presidency.

Customs data posted today showed that exports shrank 6.1 percent to $209.4 billion in December compared with the year-ago period.

The latest numbers mark a return to a long term downward trend amid tepid global demand. In November, China's exports eked out a 0.1 percent expansion after shrinking for nine straight months.

In a sign of lackluster domestic demand, imports rose 3.1 percent to $168.5 billion, slowing from a 6.7 percent rise the month before and leaving a trade surplus of $40.8 billion for the month.

The figures cap a dismal year for Chinese trade, with combined imports and exports contracting 6.8 percent. For 2016, China's trade surplus amounted to $510 billion, according to the figures released by the General Administration of Customs.

Slumping trade adds to pressure on China's communist leaders trying to shore up weakening growth in the economy.

China's top economic planner said earlier this week the economy is estimated to have expanded by about 6.7 percent last year. Those figures, which will be confirmed when fourth-quarter data is released Monday, are within the official target range of 6.5 to 7 percent but down sharply from double-digit growth half a dozen years ago.


Bank of Korea cuts growth outlook as scandal hits economy

South Korea's central bank has trimmed its forecast for the country's growth in 2017 partly due to the fallout from a massive influence-peddling scandal.

Bank of Korea says that the economy will likely expand 2.5 percent this year, slower than its October prediction of 2.8 percent growth. It said Asia's fourth-largest economy will grow 2.8 percent in 2018.

The bank cited weak private consumption because of meager income growth, heavy household debts and the repercussions from the scandal.

Parliament impeached President Park Geun-hye (goon-hay) in December and the Constitutional Court is considering whether she should be removed from power permanently for allegedly letting a long-time friend secretly meddle in state affairs.

South Korea's shipping and shipbuilding companies have shed tens of thousands of jobs to stem heavy losses. Youth unemployment has risen, pushing the number of jobless among 15 to 29-year-olds to 1 million people for the first time last year. Officials say the grim job market was hurting consumer sentiment.


Nintendo: Nintendo Switch game console to launch in March

The Nintendo Switch video game console will sell for 29,980 yen (about $260) in Japan, starting March 3, the same date as its global rollout in the U.S. and Europe. The Japanese company promises the device will be packed with fun features of all its past machines and more.

The Kyoto-based maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games announced details of the Switch's release today at the Tokyo Big Sight events hall. It said the console will sell for $299.99 in the U.S. Customers in Europe would need to ask retailers there for prices.

Anticipation has been mounting. In teaser videos, Nintendo Co. has shown players using a handheld whose remote controller section detaches from the left and right sides of the main part of the device's display. Players can use the Switch as a regular handheld, put the display on a table, or use a TV screen as a monitor.

Nintendo needs the Switch to buttress a turnaround after the disappointing sales of the Wii U and the 3DS handheld. Nintendo has been playing catch-up after consumers dumped older machines in favor of using smartphones and personal computers to play games.

The Switch needs to win over new, younger players, who may not be hard-core game fans and might be daunted by its hefty price tag. Many had hoped it might sell for closer to $200.

Nintendo is promising a more immersive, interactive experience with the Switch, including online playing and using the remote controller in games that don't require players to be constantly staring at a display.


Argentina clinches $6 billion loan deal with 6 banks

Argentina's government says it has struck a deal to borrow $6 billion from a group of six banks.

Finance Minister Luis Caputo said Thursday that the 18-month financing agreement will reduce the risk of uncertainty and secure a portion of the country's planned $20 billion financing debt for 2017.

The loan deal reduces Argentina's need to tap international credit markets at higher interest rates this year.

Caputo says Argentina hopes to issue about $5 billion in dollar-denominated bonds and $2 billion in peso-denominated bonds.

The banks in the deal are BBVA Frances, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, J.P. Morgan Chase and Santander.


Court revives suit alleging Apple monopoly on iPhone apps

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing Apple of having an illegal monopoly on the sale of iPhone apps.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday the plaintiffs have the right to sue Apple because they purchased apps directly from the company. Apple had argued that it did not sell apps, but instead acted as an intermediary used by the app developers.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision dismissing the lawsuit.

An email to Apple was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit says Apple only allows developers to sell iPhone apps through its App Store. The lawsuit says Apple gets 30 percent of a customer's payment for an app developed by a third party.


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