Global shares rise…China pledges support for economy
TOKYO (AP) – Global shares are higher, led by a 9% surge in Hong Kong’s benchmark after Chinese leaders promised more support for the slowing Chinese economy. Benchmarks rose in Paris, Frankfurt and London after strong gains in Asia. U.S. futures also advanced and oil prices were higher. Investors are awaiting a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is expected to increase its key short-term rate by 0.25 percentage points at a policy meeting later today. The Fed is trying to slow the economy enough to tamp down inflation that is at its highest level in a generation while avoiding triggering a recession.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s leaders are trying to calm jittery investors by promising more help for its struggling real estate industry, internet companies and entrepreneurs who want to raise money abroad. That comes after regulatory crackdowns fueled uncertainty and caused Chinese stock prices to plunge. Officials at a Cabinet meeting said regulators should issue market-friendly policies to “invigorate the economy.” Chinese leaders are trying to revive economic growth that slid to 4% in the final quarter of 2021, compared with the full year’s expansion of 8.1%. That was triggered by a collapse in construction and housing sales after Beijing launched a crackdown on debt in real estate.
BEIJING (AP) – The U.S. customs agency says it is holding imported goods from Chinese sports brand Li Ning after an investigation indicated they were made by North Korean labor. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it acted under a law prohibiting imports of goods made in North Korea or by North Korean citizens without proof they weren’t made by forced labor. The agency said the merchandise will be forfeited if the company cannot provide “clear and convincing evidence” it wasn’t made by convict, forced or indentured labor. Li Ning Co. also is among a group of Chinese and foreign shoe and clothing brands caught up in controversy over using materials and labor from China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
TOKYO (AP) – Japanese prosecutors have filed an appeal against the verdict in the trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly. The Tokyo District Court recently cleared Kelly of almost all charges he was facing related to alleged under-reporting of his former boss Carlos Ghosn’s pay. Kelly was given a six-month sentence suspended for three years earlier this month. The court found Kelly, an American, guilty of under-reporting former Nissan Chairman Ghosn’s compensation for just one of the eight years in the charges. The defense also has appealed, seeking Kelly’s total innocence. Prosecutors had demanded two years in prison for Kelly. The case now goes to the Tokyo High Court. In the meantime, Kelly has returned to the U.S.
BRITAIN (AP) – Britain is ending some of its most comprehensive COVID-19 testing and monitoring programs. It’s a move some scientists fear will complicate efforts to track the virus and detect any worrisome new variants. Officials have largely dismissed those concerns, despite a recent uptick in cases across Europe. They insist that high immunization rates will help dampen future waves of disease. But based on how quickly new variants have arisen, some experts suggest the next mutated version could arrive as early as May. They warn that U.K. authorities should be using the time to prepare, rather than winding down their pandemic defenses.