Asia shares mixed on trade outlook, tighter China oversight
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Tuesday following a lackluster day on Wall Street. Investors are keeping a close eye on tensions over trade following President Donald Trump’s announcement of hikes on steel and aluminum tariffs.
U.S. stocks were split Monday as technology companies climbed while Boeing and other industrial companies gave back some of the ground they won on Friday. The S&P 500 index 0.1 percent to 2,783.02 and the Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.6 percent to 25,178.61. Almost all of that loss came from three industrial stocks: Boeing, Caterpillar and United Technologies. The Nasdaq composite finished at another record high, adding 0.4 percent to 7,588.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 0.2 percent to 1,601.06.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remains above $61 a barrel.
The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.
China merges bank, insurance regulators to tackle risk
BEIJING (AP) — China’s government announced plans Tuesday to create a newly powerful regulator to oversee scandal-plagued banking and insurance industries as they try to reduce debt and financial risks.
The move is in line with the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to tighten control over state-owned entities that dominate industries including banking, telecoms and energy in an effort to make them more efficient and productive.
The party’s stated priorities this year include reducing financial risk following a run-up in corporate and local government borrowing that prompted global rating agencies to cut Beijing’s government credit rating last year.
The new agency, a merger of separate Cabinet bodies that oversaw banks and insurers, will be charged with “preventing and dissolving financial risks.”
Beijing has launched a series of regulatory overhauls over the past two decades, creating and merging agencies, to respond to the growth of China’s vast, state-owned banking, insurance and finance industries.
The division of responsibility among multiple agencies prompted concern finance regulators were failing to keep track of increasingly complex financial activity by banks, insurers and companies.
Ag Department kills animal welfare rule for organic meat
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New rules, decades in the making, that would have required organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards were withdrawn by the federal government on Monday, frustrating organic farmers and animal welfare groups but leaving some traditional egg and livestock farm groups rejoicing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority.
The rule was published by former President Barack Obama’s Agriculture Department two days before he left office in January 2017. The administration of Donald Trump has repeatedly delayed implementing the rule and had signaled that it might never move forward with it.
The regulation was designed to ensure that organically grown livestock had enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch. It also prohibited removal of chicken beaks and cutting cattle tails and required improved living conditions including fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight.
Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in a statement echoed some in the livestock industry who said the rule would increase the paperwork burden and drive up the cost of production for farmers and ranchers.
Senate bill would diminish mortgage disclosures by banks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Buried within new Senate legislation to roll back restraints on banks is a provision that would exempt an estimated 85 percent of all U.S. banks and credit unions from public reporting requirements, raising fears that discriminatory practices by lenders could go undetected.
The data that would be exempt from reporting includes the financial information of borrowers and loan applicants, along with their race and sex. Some Democratic lawmakers, community activists and low-income-housing advocates have raised the alarm over the prospect of diminished mortgage disclosures by banks.
Less central to the bill is the data provision. It would exempt banks and credit unions from reporting requirements if they issue fewer than 500 home mortgage loans a year. That’s an estimated 85 percent of U.S. banks, according to data from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Trump blocks Broadcom takeover bid for Qualcomm
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is blocking Singapore-based Broadcom’s takeover of U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm on national security grounds. The White House says Trump is taking the action on the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign purchases of U.S. entities. Broadcom made an unsolicited bid last year to take over Qualcomm, which has been met by shareholder skepticism and regulatory scrutiny on security and antitrust grounds.
Broadcom is in the process of moving its legal headquarters from Singapore to the U.S., with the company planning on finishing the move by April 3, 2018. Trump hosted Broadcom CEO Hock E. Tan in the White House last year as he announced the move, and the company had hoped that would help it skirt the national security review.
Settlement reached in lawsuit of Syngenta GMO corn seed
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Swiss agribusiness giant has agreed to a $1.5 billion settlement in a lawsuit over genetically modified corn seed variety.
Officials for Syngenta and attorneys for thousands of farmers, ethanol plants and other grain handlers announced the settlement Monday of a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuits were filed after Syngenta introduced its Viptera seed strain to the U.S. market before it was approved by China for imports. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Syngenta’s decision cost U.S. corn producers and handlers access to the Chinese corn market for years.
Syngenta began selling Viptera in the U.S. for the 2011 growing season but China didn’t approve it until 2014.
The settlement covers all U.S. producers who sold corn priced after September 2013. A federal judge still must approve the settlement.
CHICKEN PLANT FIGHT
Kansas lawmakers pass bill aimed at luring big chicken plant
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers approved legislation Monday aimed at attracting large chicken-processing plants to their state, six months after opposition in one Kansas City-area town stymied a $320 million project.
The bill would allow bigger poultry barns within a mile of residential areas. The House passed it Monday on an 84-37 vote; the Senate approved it last month, 29-10 . The bill goes to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer next.
The new law would take effect in July and more than triple the number of chickens that could be housed in poultry barns three-quarters of a mile or less from a home. It would allow barns with up to 333,000 chickens a quarter mile away.
The Kansas Sierra Club said the bill shows “no regard for public health.” Backers say it will help the state economy.
Judge: Trump administration violated law over smog findings
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that the Trump administration violated federal law when it failed to meet a deadline to identify all parts of the U.S. that don’t meet air quality standards for smog.
The EPA had until October 1, 2017, to designate what parts of the country were in and out of compliance with tougher smog standards adopted during the Obama administration.
Judge Haywood Gilliam ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to complete the designations by the end of April.
His ruling was for two lawsuits, including one filed by California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia.
WILMINGTON-TRUST BANK FRAUD
Fraud trial of former Wilmington Trust executives begins
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Four former executives of Wilmington Trust Corporation went on trial Monday in Delaware on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors told jurors the defendants hid hundreds of millions of dollars in bad loans as the bank’s commercial real estate loan portfolio cratered after the 2008 financial crisis. The government also alleges that the four concealed the truth from regulators and investors about the bank’s loan portfolio shortly before the century-old institution was hastily sold in 2011, near the edge of collapse. The bank, which was founded by members of the DuPont family, imploded despite receiving $330 million from the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The bank itself — the only financial institution to be criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program — reached a $60 million settlement with prosecutors last year just as the trial was set to start.
IHOP server tells black teenagers to pay up before they eat
AUBURN, Maine (AP) — A server at an Auburn, Maine, IHOP restaurant has asked a group of black teenagers to pay upfront for their meal, prompting the manager to issue a public apology.
Manager Melvin Escobar told the Sun Journal newspaper “this is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time.”
What happened on Sunday came to the attention of Escobar after a young man from Monmouth posted about it on Facebook.
Escobar says he believes the server’s actions were not racially motivated but she was worried the kids would duck out on the $100 bill. He says the restaurant recently had some problems with teenagers walking out without paying.
IHOP restaurants are franchised and run by International House of Pancakes LLC, a subsidiary of DineEquity Inc.