Update on the latest business


Stocks climb

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rallying in midday trading on Wall Street after the government reported a big increase in hiring last month.

Investors were relieved to see that wage growth slowed down. A jump in wages a month ago raised worries about inflation and spooked investors.

Technology companies are climbing and banks are rising in tandem with interest rates. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.90 percent.

Friday marks the ninth birthday of the current bull market, which is the second-longest since World War II.


Hiring surge adds 313K jobs in February, most in 1 ½ years

WASHINGTON (AP) — US employers went on a hiring binge last month, adding 313,000 jobs, the most since July 2016, and drawing hundreds of thousands of people into the job market.

The Labor Department says wage gains, meanwhile, fell from the previous month to 2.6 percent year-over-year growth. Strong hourly wage growth had spooked markets in February because it raised the specter of inflation. But January’s figure was revised one-tenth of a point lower to 2.8 percent.

The influx of new workers kept the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1 percent.

The surge of job gains likely reflects burgeoning confidence among businesses that the Trump administration’s tax cuts will accelerate growth. Consumers are also optimistic, likely because after-tax income grew at the fastest pace in a year last month, aided by the tax cuts.


GOP senator to review Trump tariffs on steel, aluminum

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican chairman of a Senate oversight committee is launching a review of the president’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is asking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to answer several questions about the move. That includes a “detailed cost analysis” of the impact on the economy, how employment levels were factored into the decision and national security concerns.

The chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has been no fan of President Donald Trump’s tariff plan. He says they risk undermining the U.S. economy, including manufacturers in his state. The panel has authority to probe the efficiently and effectiveness of government. Johnson’s seeking “detailed” response from the administration by March 22.


Merkel wants EU exempted

MUNICH (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes the European Union will be exempted from new U.S. tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum, like Mexico and Canada.

Merkel says Germany views the new import duties ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump “with concern.”

Speaking at an event in Munich, Merkel noted that the European Commission has proposed retaliatory measures if EU imports into the U.S. are affected by the tariffs.

Europe’s main steel federation is warning that that the tariffs could cost tens of thousands of jobs across the continent.


Jersey Shore town seeks ferry to dock next to Kushner resort

LONG BRANCH, New Jersey (AP) — The federal government has been advising a beach town on the Jersey Shore on plans to build a pier and start a ferry service near a resort co-owned by Jared Kushner.

The plan places the federal government in the awkward position of helping steer a project that would benefit President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Once complete, a former city official said, it would boost property values at the Kushner resort.

The Federal Transit Administration gave Long Branch $3.34 million in 2008 to redevelop a fishing pier, but that’s not enough to finish the project. City leaders have been talking with federal transit officials about how to apply for more funds.

Kushner’s lawyer and a spokeswoman for Kushner Cos. say there is nothing improper about the arrangement.


Court: TransCanada doesn’t have to pay landowner attorneys

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) —The Nebraska Supreme Court says the builder of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t have to reimburse attorneys who defended landowners against the company’s efforts to gain access to their land.

The decision released Friday resolves a dispute that was triggered when TransCanada Inc. filed eminent domain lawsuits against 71 Nebraska landowners in 2015, only to drop them later amid uncertainty over whether the process it used was constitutional.

Omaha attorney Dave Domina argued to the court in January that TransCanada owes his law firm about $350,000.

A TransCanada attorney argued that there was no evidence that the landowners had signed a contract to pay specific fees to Domina and his law partner, Brian Jorde.

A state commission approved a new pipeline route in November. That decision is being appealed.


Google’s autonomous vehicle unit to test semis in Atlanta

DETROIT (AP) — Just days after ride-hailing service Uber announced it was testing tractor-trailers that drive themselves, Google’s autonomous vehicle operation announced similar testing in Georgia.

Waymo says that starting next week it will run self-driving rigs in the Atlanta area with human backup drivers. They’ll travel freeways and local roads to deliver server racks and other cargo destined for Google’s data centers.

The Alphabet Inc. unit says the trucks will have the same technology and sensors as autonomous minivans that are being tested in the Phoenix area. Waymo wouldn’t say how many trucks are being tested, but it released pictures showing two blue semis.

Uber announced Tuesday that its freight unit was using self-driving semis with human backup drivers to haul consumer goods on freeways in Arizona.


NHL takes esports on ice with gaming tournament

The National Hockey League is making its first foray into the world of esports.

The league is launching the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship on Friday, a tournament that will crown a champion in June in Las Vegas. League officials and esports experts say it’s a way to attract millennials to hockey and to find new ways to connect with current fans.

In what NHL executive vice president and chief revenue officer Keith Wachtel acknowledges is a basic start to esports, the tournament will allow players to match up 1-on-1 in “EA Sports NHL 18” qualification rounds. That will be followed by regional finals in the United States, Canada and Europe on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ahead of the June 19 championship.

The goal could eventually be to put on something similar to the season-long NBA 2K League, which is set to begin in May, and eMLS, which has 19 of 23 teams taking part using “FIFA 18.”

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