Update on the latest in business:

Posted June 16


Asian shares mixed as Wall St tech dive weighs on sentiment

Asian stocks were mixed today as a tech sell-off on Wall Street shaded sentiment among investors who continued to focus on central bank policies, including Japan's decision Friday to keep its ultra-lax monetary stance intact.

The Bank of Japan opted Friday to keep its lax monetary policy intact, while noting signs of improvement in the world's third largest economy. A BOJ statement said it expected demand to accelerate, supporting a "moderate expansion." The central bank kept its key interest rate at minus 0.1 percent.

The dollar rose against the yen and weakened against the euro.

On wall Street yesterday, The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.2 percent to 2,432.46. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 0.1 percent to 21,359.90 after Wednesday's record high close. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite dropped 0.5 percent to 6,165.50.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil was steady, just below $44.50 a barrel.


Greece gets enough to avoid another bailout trauma

Greece avoided another potential brush with bankruptcy after striking a deal with European creditors to tide it over for the rest of the year and gained assurances that its repayment burden will be eased when it finally can stand on its own after nearly a decade on financial life support.

After months of haggling that raised fears of another escalation in Greece's near eight-year debt crisis, the 19-country eurozone agreed late Thursday to clear the release of a further 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion) after the Greek government delivered on an array of reforms. Getting the money was becoming increasingly urgent as Greece has a big repayment hump next month.

Perhaps more importantly for the longer term, the so-called Eurogroup made clear that it is ready to ease the burden of Greece's debt repayments at the conclusion of the current bailout program next year. The International Monetary Fund may also get involved financially, on a limited basis of up to $2 billion, but that still requires more detail on the debt relief offer.


China, SKorea put missile rift on hold to join AIIB meeting

Putting aside a rift over a U.S. anti-missile system, top officials from China and South Korea were attending a meeting of a China-backed Asian lending bank that opened Friday on the South Korean island of Jeju.

Chinese finance minister Xiao Jie and his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley were among those at the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank's annual meeting, which runs through Sunday.

South Korea was picked to host the gathering before Beijing began protesting Seoul's agreement to let its ally the United States deploy on its territory key components of the so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system. South Korea and the U.S. say the system is needed to deter a possible North Korean attack but Beijing sees it as a threat to its own security because its radar can peer deep into northeastern China.

The China-led AIIB has 77 member countries, including some American allies such as Britain and Australia. The U.S. has shunned the initiative, while Japan has also stayed away but expressed openness to joint projects with the Manila, Philippines-based Asia Development Bank.


US seeks to seize more assets said stolen from Malaysia fund

The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to recover $540 million in assets, including penthouse apartments, paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and a yacht known as the Equanimity, that it says were stolen from Malaysia's troubled sovereign wealth fund, prompting objections from Malaysian officials who said Friday there was no evidence of such crimes.

The case filed Thursday is part of an effort to seize allegedly ill-gotten assets linked to fraud at the government-controlled fund, which is intended to promote economic development projects in the Asian nation.

The Justice Department says the complex money laundering scheme was intended to enrich top-level officials of the fund, including some who are close to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Justice Department alleges that more than $4.5 billion has been stolen from the fund known informally as 1MDB. The case is the largest single action the Justice Department has taken under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which seeks to recover foreign bribery proceeds and embezzled funds.


Nevada forces drugmakers to reveal insulin pricing, profits

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed into law the nation's strictest requirements for pharmaceutical companies to reveal how they set certain prescription drug prices.

The bipartisan legislation focuses on insulin — one of many life-sustaining prescription treatments sold in the U.S. at prices that have skyrocketed over the last decade.

The law requires drugmakers to annually disclose the list prices they set, profits they make and discounts they give market middlemen on insulin.

They must also give state officials written explanations of any insulin price hikes that surpass the previous year's inflation rate, or are higher than twice the inflation rate of the previous two years.

Market experts have said transparency on its own will not lower patient costs.

But the leading bill sponsor, Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela of Las Vegas, argued that detailed pricing data can start conversations about seeking even stricter regulations and at least could equip patients with information they could use to sue manufacturers for price gouging.


Restaurant bans tipping, raises prices for better salaries

A New Hampshire restaurant is banning tips in favor of raising menu prices to give its staff a salary of $45,000 to $50,000 per year.

Owners of 7th Settlement Brewery in Dover say they are the first restaurant in New Hampshire to ban tipping, and will no longer accept tips starting Labor Day. The rationale behind the change is to offer full-time benefits and time off.

Co-founder David Boynton says they're going to call it "hospitality included" and will be raising menu prices by 15 to 21 percent in order to make up the difference. He says the change is so every employee makes the same wage.

Sean Conroy, a server at the restaurant, says he's nervous about the changes, but is excited about the opportunity to equalize pay.


Major business and economic reports due out today.

The Commerce Department releases its report on home construction in May today.

Also, the Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for May.


US antitrust regulators approve merger of DuPont and Dow

The long-delayed $62 billion merger of chemical giants DuPont and Dow has been approved by U.S. antitrust regulators.

The Justice Department said Thursday it would approve the deal as long as the companies sell off some herbicide and chemical units to preserve competition. Those sales are already in the works.

The merger was originally announced in December 2015 and was initially expected to close in the first half of 2016. But it was delayed several times while U.S. and foreign regulators reviewed it.

Once merged, DuPont and Dow plan to spin off into three public companies: one focusing on agriculture, one on material science and one on specialty products.

European regulators approved the deal in March.

The new company will be called DowDuPont and have dual headquarters in Midland, Michigan, and Wilmington, Delaware.


Bank of America laying off staff in Charlotte

Bank of America is cutting an unspecified number of positions in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area.

A spokesman for the bank said Thursday that the jobs being cut are coming from Bank of America's technology and operations unit and that all the employees affected are being offered an opportunity to apply for other open positions.

Bank of America, the nation's third-largest bank by assets, is based in Charlotte, where it employees roughly 15,000 people. It declined to give exact figures about how many jobs were being cut.

The bank has been slowly shedding jobs as it has sold off assets and restructured itself since the mortgage bubble burst nearly a decade ago.


Twitter unveils new look, which users quickly mock

Twitter has unveiled a new look, and much like some previous changes the company has made to its short-messaging service, it's not going over so well with the Twitterati.

The San Francisco company says the new design emphasizes simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users' profile images from square-shaped to round.

Twitter users immediately responded Thursday by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it.

Twitter also took heat from users last year when it changed its algorithm that orders the tweets users see.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all