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Update on the latest in business:

Posted September 11

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rise as Hurricane Irma weakens

Insurers and travel companies are rising sharply after Hurricane Irma appeared to be less destructive than many had feared.

Royal Caribbean Cruises rose 3.3 percent today, and Chubb gained 3.6 percent. Home improvement companies, which rallied last week, fell as investors anticipated less demand from homeowners needing to do repairs following the storm. Lowe's dropped 1.5 percent.

Banks rose more than the rest of the market as bond yields jumped. Bank of America climbed 1.8 percent.

At 12:52 p.m. Eastern Time, the S&P 500 index rose 26 points, to 2,488.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 255 points, to 22,052. The Nasdaq composite increased 73 points, to 6,433.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.12 percent.

AIRLINES-IRMA

Flight cancellations mount as Irma pushes north from Florida

Big airports in Florida remain closed, and flight cancellations are spreading north along the track of Tropical Storm Irma.

American Airlines said it won't resume flights in Miami until at least Tuesday, revising its plans to restart late tonight.

An airline spokesman says the timetable depends on approval by federal aviation officials and the ability of security screeners and airport vendors to return to work.

More than 3,800 U.S. flights scheduled for today were canceled by late morning — and more than 9,000 since Saturday — according to tracking service FlightAware.

Disruptions have spread beyond Florida. Delta Air Lines is canceling 900 flights today, including many at its Atlanta hub because of high winds. American is canceling 300 flights in Charlotte, North Carolina, due to wind.

INSURERS-IRMA

Worst-case scenario not happening and insurance sector soars

Though damage from Hurricane Irma is extensive, property insurers are breathing a sigh of relief with the storm nowhere near as catastrophic as many had feared.

Shares in insurance companies that had been hammered in the days leading up to the storm are surging today, the first day of trading since the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Especially strong are companies with a strong presence in Florida, like Federated National Holding, HCI and Heritage Insurance.

Citi analyst James Naklicki is estimating U.S. insured loses to be about $20 billion, with totals reaching up to $50 billion. A direct hit to Miami, he says, could have meant up to $150 billion in costs.

Larger insurers like Travelers, Allstate and Progressive are also rising.

FUEL ECONOMY-LAWSUIT

States sue Trump administration over fuel economy fines

New York, California and three other states are suing the Trump administration, saying it must put in place higher penalties for automakers that violate federal fuel economy standards.

The U.S. Department of Transportation more than doubled civil penalties for fuel economy violations last year after Congress ordered agencies to adjust their fines for inflation.

The new rule, which was set to take effect in July, would require automakers to pay $14 for every tenth of a mile per gallon of fuel a vehicle consumes over its minimum. Since the mid-1970s, automakers have paid $5.50 for every tenth of a mile per gallon.

Automakers objected, saying it would cost them $1 billion per year. The federal government delayed the rule in July.

Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania filed suit as well.

TESLA-CHARGING STATIONS

Tesla puts charging stations in more locations

Tesla is rolling out more charging stations, clearing additional obstacles for those who might want to give electric cars a try.

The stations, being installed in places including Boston and Chicago, will be ready to go today.

The new stations, which take up less space and are easier to install that previous models, can deliver 72 kilowatts of dedicated power to each car. It will take about 45 to 50 minutes for most drivers to charge their vehicles. And Tesla says more charging stations are on the way.

The company began delivering the new Model 3 this summer, a compact car that starts at $35,000, putting at Tesla in the financial range of many more people who want to get an electric car.

EXXON SETTLEMENT

Environmental groups, senator challenge $225M Exxon deal

Environmental groups and a Democratic state senator are urging a New Jersey appeals court to let them intervene in the state's $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak and an attorney for four environmental groups made their arguments today before the court in Trenton.

They say a trial court judge who approved the 2015 settlement was wrong to block them from intervening, since it included the addition of retail gas stations and other sites not discussed during trial.

But attorneys for the state and Exxon say the judge made the right call.

New Jersey sued Exxon Mobil for natural resources damages in 2004 and settled in 2015.

Environmental groups say the state settled for "pennies on the dollar" after earlier estimating the cost at $8.9 billion.

NORDSTROM-NEW STORE

Nordstrom is opening concept store that has no inventory

Nordstrom is opening up a store that doesn't have any inventory.

The luxury department store chain says its Nordstrom Local concept store will open in Los Angeles next month.

The store will be staffed with personal stylists who can order merchandise for customers. Nordstrom says customers can also buy online inside the store or pick up online orders the same day. The store will offer tailoring and manicure services.

The store is just 3,000 square feet (279 square meters). That compares to the average 140,000-square-foot (13,006-square-meter) size of a full Nordstrom store.

Nordstrom senior vice president Shea Jensen says the store will allow the company to offer its "best services in a convenient location."

CHINA-AUTO SALES

China's auto sales rise 4.1 percent in August

China's auto sales rose 4.1 percent in August from the same month a year earlier, driven by strong demand for SUVs.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says almost 1.9 million SUVs, sedans and minivans were purchased. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 5.3 percent to almost 2.2 million.

Sales growth this year has been relatively weak in comparison with a spike in demand last year as buyers moved up purchases to take advantage of a temporary sales tax cut. Demand cooled after a portion of the tax was restored in January.

SPAIN-CHINESE BANK PROBE

Chinese bank accused of helping money laundering in Spain

A Spanish judge is accusing the European branch of China's state-owned ICBC bank of aiding criminal organizations to launder more than 214 million euros ($256 million).

National Court judge Ismael Moreno says the Luxembourg-based Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Europe should also be held responsible for the money allegedly laundered by its Spanish branch between 2011 and 2014.

Seven top executives tied to the bank's Madrid premises have already been under investigation since February 2016.

In a ruling released today, the judge said ICBC Europe had a degree of knowledge of the alleged laundering.

Moreno says the bank's office in central Madrid proactively raised cash from illicit businesses and criminal gangs and then hid the deposits by making loans to overseas customers, mostly through transfers to China.

INDIA-AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan seeks speedy development of Iranian port

Afghanistan is asking India to speed development of a strategic port in Iran to bolster a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries that bypasses Pakistan.

The port would help India transport goods to Afghanistan by sea. Pakistan currently does not allow India to transport through its territory to Afghanistan.

India last year committed up to $500 million to the development of Chabahar port.

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