Update on the latest in business:

Posted July 13


Asian shares advance, tracking rally on Wall Street

Shares were mostly higher in Asia today following a broad rally on Wall Street that nudged the Dow Jones industrial average to a new high. The rally came after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress the central bank may slow the pace of its interest rate increases if inflation remains below its target level.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index was flat and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 1.2 percent.


Yellen tells Congress to expect more rate hikes

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has told Congress that the central bank expects to keep raising a key interest rate at a gradual pace and also plans to start trimming its massive bond holdings this year.

In her semiannual testimony on the economy, Yellen on Wednesday took note of a number of encouraging factors, including strong job gains and rising household wealth that she said should fuel economic growth over the next two years.

She blamed a recent slowdown in inflation on temporary factors. But she says Fed officials are watching developments closely to make sure that annual price gains move back toward the Fed's 2 percent target.

Many economists believe the Fed, which has raised rates three times since December, will hike rates one more time this year.


South Korea says unclear FTA is cause of trade imbalance

A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman has responded to a U.S. request for talks on the two countries' free-trade agreement by saying it's unclear if the pact is causing a growing imbalance.

The spokesman told reporters the two countries should consider revising the trade agreement only after reaching a consensus on the need for a change.

The administration of President Donald Trump wants to renegotiate the deal, which took effect five years ago.

The U.S. has notified South Korea that it wants to discuss "possible amendments and modifications" to the pact. Terms of the trade deal call for talks to begin within 30 days.

U.S. exports to South Korea have fallen since 2011 and the U.S. trade deficit more than doubled since then to $27.6 billion.


China's export, import growth accelerate in June

Growth in China's exports and imports accelerated for a second straight month in June in a positive sign for global demand and the country's own economy.

Customs data showed exports rose 11.3 percent, up from May's 8.7 percent. Imports gained 17.2 percent, up from 14.8 percent.

Unexpectedly strong export demand could help to support Chinese economic growth that is forecast to weaken this year as Beijing tightens bank lending controls to reduce the risks of rising debt.


MIT research associate charged with insider trading

An engineering research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been arrested on insider trading charges filed in New York.

Authorities said Wednesday that Fei Yan was charged with earning $120,000 in illegal profits from secrets stemming from two corporate mergers last year.

The 31-year-old Chinese citizen, arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home, was freed on $500,000 bail after appearing in Boston federal court.

Federal prosecutors in New York City say Yan got his illegal tips from his spouse, a lawyer at an international law firm.

Prosecutors say Yan's illegal trades came after he studied online how to avoid law enforcement detection. They say he read an article entitled: "Want to Commit Insider Trading? Here's How Not to Do It."


Apple to open data center in China with government ties

Apple will open a data center in mainland China with ties to the country's government, raising concerns about the security of iCloud accounts that store personal information transferred from iPhones, iPads and Mac computers there.

The data center will be located in the Guizhou province and run by a company owned by the Chinese government. Apple is teaming up with the company, Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data, to comply with a new Chinese law requiring data-storage providers to keep the information of mainland China customers on computers located within the country.

The Guizhou data center will store photos, video, documents and other personal information uploaded to iCloud accounts by Apple customers in mainland China, even when traveling outside the country. Backups and other data stored in iCloud accounts by customers outside China will continue to be stored in data centers in the U.S. and eventually Denmark.

Other major technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have already made similar deals to run data centers in mainland China to remain in the good graces of the country's Communist government.


Federal appeals court upholds Wisconsin right-to-work law

A federal appeals court panel has upheld Wisconsin's right-to-work law.

The law prohibits businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers to pay union dues.

Unions maintain the law enables nonunion members to receive free representation.

Two chapters of the International Union of Operating Engineers filed a lawsuit last year alleging that amounts to an unconstitutional taking.


Face scans for Americans flying abroad stir privacy issues

If the Trump administration gets its way, all Americans boarding international flights will have to submit to a face scan, a plan privacy advocates call an ill-advised step toward a surveillance state.

The Department of Homeland Security says it's the only way to successfully expand a program that tracks nonimmigrant foreigners. They have been required by law since 2004 to submit biometric identity scans — but to date have only had their fingerprints and photos collected prior to entry.

Now, DHS says it's finally ready to implement face scans on departure — aimed mainly at better tracking visa overstays but also at tightening security. But, the agency says, U.S. citizens must also be scanned for the program to work.

Privacy advocates say that oversteps Congress' mandate.

Pilots projects are underway at six U.S. airports — Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C.


American Airlines will end partnerships with Qatar, Etihad

American Airlines is dropping partnerships with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, which American accuses of receiving illegal subsidies from their governments.

American says it no longer makes sense to have so-called code-sharing agreements with Qatar and Etihad because of the dispute. In code-sharing, airlines sell tickets on each other's flights and share revenue.

Breaking up the partnerships is the latest twist in a fight between American, Delta and United and fast-growing state-owned Middle Eastern airlines, which deny getting subsidies.

Complicating matters, the CEO of Qatar Airways says his airline plans to buy 10 percent of American Airlines Group Inc.

American said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that Qatar has filed a new notice of its intent to buy American shares. American says it didn't solicit the investment.


House panel seeks to block FDA 'vaping' rules

A House panel is again trying to exempt increasingly popular e-cigarettes from new Food and Drug Administration rules.

The legislation approved Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee would prevent the FDA from requiring retroactive safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market. It would exempt some premium and large cigars from those same regulations. E-cigarette products introduced in the future would face the safety reviews.

The development comes as the Trump administration has delayed enforcement of the new FDA.

Supporters say that "vaping" is far safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes and that the products, which generally heat a liquid nicotine solution into vapor, can help tobacco smokers quit. But most panel Democrats said the products are dangerous and are targeted at children.


John Quinn, a founding editor at USA Today, dies at age 91

A founding editor at USA Today has died at age 91.

John Quinn's family says he died Tuesday of natural causes at Roberts Health Center in Rhode Island. Quinn is survived by two adult children.

Quinn began his career as a copy boy at The Providence Journal-Bulletin while he studied at Providence College. He worked his way up to managing editor before leaving to join Gannett in 1966.

USA Today was started in 1982. Quinn served as its editor for five years and became editor in chief in 1988. He remained at Gannett until he retired in 1990.


Group led by ex-alderman set to acquire Chicago Sun-Times

An investment group led by a former Chicago alderman along with a coalition of labor unions is close to acquiring the Chicago Sun-Times.

The group's leader, Alderman Edwin Eisendrath, says a deal to acquire the newspaper is expected to be completed today (Thursday).

Eisendrath has declined to disclose terms of the deal and also says he doesn't have permission to reveal all the members of his investment group. He says, "A great group has come together and make sure that a genuine voice with honest and good reporting that connects with working men and women thrives."

One of the investors is the Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella group of labor unions.


Building where Sanders' wife was college president is sold

A Vermont building that housed a now-defunct college where U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' wife was president has been sold at auction.

The Burlington Free Press reports People's United Bank took ownership of the former Burlington College property Wednesday for $3.1 million, about $650,000 less than the college has in debts.

Developer Eris Farrell hopes to buy the building.

Burlington College closed last year after struggling under the weight of a $10 million purchase of property and buildings from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington it made in 2010 during Jane Sanders' presidency.

Federal investigators are looking into the finances behind the real estate deal put together by Jane Sanders.

A spokesman for Jane Sanders and the independent senator says the allegations that prompted the investigation were politically motivated attacks.


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