Financial Markets

AP Scorecard
February 20, 2018
AP Newswatch
February 21, 2018
Financial Markets


Update on the latest in business:

Asian shares fall after US holiday, eyes on Fed notes

TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday after a U.S. holiday. Investors were awaiting the release later in the day of minutes from the latest meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

American markets were closed Monday for Presidents’ Day.

Minutes are expected later Tuesday from the latest Federal Reserve meeting. Investors were also watching remarks in Japanese parliament from Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda. Kuroda was reappointed recently for another five-year term in a show of confidence in his ultra-easy monetary policy.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose above $62 per barrel.

The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.



HSBC annual profit rises as Asian growth drives earnings

HONG KONG (AP) – HSBC said Tuesday that profits rose on strong earnings from Asia, in the latest sign that the London-based global bank’s restructuring to focus even more on the region is paying off.

The bank said pretax profit, after adjusting for one-off items and currency fluctuations, increased 11 percent to $21 billion in 2017, as adjusted revenue climbed 5 percent to $51.5 billion.

Net income more than quadrupled to $10.8 billion.

The bank is Europe’s biggest but Asia accounted for nearly nine-tenths of total profits last year, when HSBC completed a sweeping multiyear corporate revamp to raise profitability.

The overhaul included laying off thousands of workers, bringing in new leadership and selling off its businesses around the globe to focus on emerging markets in Asia.

HSBC is focusing in particular on Hong Kong and the affluent Pearl River Delta region in neighboring mainland China.

A new chief executive, company veteran John Flint, is set to take over Wednesday from Stuart Gulliver, who is retiring after seven years at the helm.



UK vows no ‘Mad Max style’ deregulation after Brexit

LONDON (AP) – Britain is trying to reassure the European Union that it doesn’t plan to slash regulations and standards in order to boost its economy after Brexit.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will use a speech Tuesday in Vienna to promise that Brexit won’t lead to “an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom, with Britain plunged into a ‘Mad Max’-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction.”

Britain’s Brexit department said Monday that Davis will tell Austrian business leaders that maintaining similar standards and regulations will allow trade to continue without barriers after Britain leaves the EU in 2019.

Britain wants to retain close economic ties with the EU, while also becoming free to strike new trade deals around the world.

EU leaders warn Britain can’t have both freedom from the bloc’s regulations and frictionless trade.



Minnesota’s $5B case over 3M chemicals heads to trial

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota officials will soon try to convince a jury that manufacturer 3M Co. should pay the state $5 billion to help clean up environmental damage that the state alleges was caused by pollutants the company dumped for decades.

The long-awaited trial begins Tuesday in Minneapolis. Experts say it could have wide-reaching implications if the state succeeds, in part because 3M and other companies legally dumped the chemicals for years in and outside Minnesota.

The case focuses on the company’s disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products. The company denies it did anything wrong or illegal.

The state alleges the chemicals damaged Minnesota’s natural resources, including more than 100 miles of the Mississippi River, and contaminated drinking water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to human health.



Judge grants $300M loan for Puerto Rico power company

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A federal judge has approved a $300 million loan for Puerto Rico’s power company that officials say will help keep it operating until late March.

Monday’s ruling comes just days after the judge had rejected an initial $1 billion loan request made by a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory’s finances. The judge had said officials did not provide sufficient evidence proving Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority needed the money.

Neither the board nor government officials immediately responded to a request for comment.

The power company is $9 billion in debt, and the board has warned it could see a $1.2 billion loss in revenue in the first six months after Hurricane Maria.

Nearly 250,000 customers remain without power more than five months after the Category 4 storm.



General Motors confirms new vehicle for Kansas plant

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – General Motors says it will build a new vehicle at its plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

The company said Monday it will build the Cadillac XT4 crossover sport utility vehicle at its Fairfax Assembly & Stamping Plant.

GM spokeswoman Mary Padilla says the announcement means the plant will keep about 500 jobs. The assembly plant currently employs 2,235, including about 2,000 hourly workers, making the Chevrolet Malibu. The company is spending $265 million to prepare to manufacture the vehicle. The Cadillac XT4 is a crossover SUV.

The Kansas City Star reports Fairfax lost its third shift last fall after sales of the Malibu slumped. It had employed about 3,000 with the three shifts.



Report: California pot growers lagging in getting licenses

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Nearly two months after recreational marijuana became legal in California, less than 1 percent of the state’s known growers have been licensed, according to a report released Monday by a pot industry group.

The 38-page report from the California Growers Association says just 534 of an estimated 68,150 marijuana growers were licensed by the state as of Feb. 7. The association cited such obstacles to licensing as cost and regulatory barriers.

A study published last year by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center estimated the newly created state market for recreational marijuana should produce $5 billion in taxable revenue this year. If more of the smaller, independent growers are not licensed by the state, taxable revenue of recreational marijuana is likely to be lower than anticipated as the black market continues to flourish, according to the new report.


Feathers fly as chicken shortage shuts KFCs across Britain

LONDON (AP) – Fast-food fans were in a flutter Monday after most of the 900 KFC outlets in the U.K. and Ireland were forced to close because of a shortage of chicken.

The company apologized to customers, blaming “teething problems” with its new delivery partner, DHL. KFC first apologized for the problems on Saturday. In an update Monday, it listed almost 300 stores as open, but did not say when the rest might join them.

It said those branches that remained open were operating a limited menu or shortened hours.

DHL, which recently took over the KFC contract from Bidvest Logistics, said that “due to operational issues a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed.”

AP-WF-02-20-18 0826GMT