Stocks gain…Shutdown makes economic assessment difficult…California fights Trump
SINGAPORE (AP) – Global markets were mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered the Federal Reserve’s more restrained stance and opt to view this week’s U.S.-China trade talks in a positive light. Futures point to a flay opening on Wall Street. Oil prices reversed early losses and continued to rise after a nine-day rally. Benchmark U.S. crude climbed above $53 per barrel. The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has begun to make it harder to assess the health of the economy by delaying or distorting key reports on growth, spending and hiring. Government data on home construction and retail sales, for example, won’t be released next week because staffers who compile those reports have been furloughed. The retail sales report provides a snapshot of consumer spending, which fuels more than two-thirds of the economy.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A U.S. judge will hear arguments Friday over California’s attempt to block new rules by the Trump administration that would allow more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women. Judge Haywood Gilliam previously blocked an interim version of those rules – a decision that was upheld in December by an appeals court. But the case is before him again after the administration finalized the measures in November, prompting a renewed legal challenge by California and other states.
UNDATED (AP) – AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers following a report that companies are still selling that information to shadowy companies without customer knowledge. Last year, AT&T and other carriers pledged to stop providing location information to data brokers. But AT&T made an exception for useful services that, for instance, help customers with roadside assistance or fraud protection. Now the company says it will also end those sales in March.
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – The European Union and Britain’s prime minister are seeking new ways to avoid a no-deal departure of the U.K. from the bloc but the EU Commission president insists there cannot be a renegotiation of the draft Brexit deal. Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday that despite the difficulties of British Prime Minister Theresa May to get the deal through parliament, he continues to hope she can pull it off next Tuesday.