Asian markets mixed, pausing ahead of Fed chief testimony
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mixed today in cautious trading ahead of closely watched congressional testimony by the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished nearly 0.2% lower. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5%.
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 3.68 points, or 0.1%, to 2,979.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.65 points, or 0.1%, to 26,783.49. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, gained 43.35 points, or 0.5%, to 8,141.73. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 1.20 points, or 0.1%, to 1,562.59.
Powell testimony to be studied for signs of coming rate cut
WASHINGTON (AP) — Every sentence Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to Congress this week is sure to be parsed by investors who expect — and hope — the Fed will cut interest rates later this month for the first time in a decade.
Powell will testify for two days starting today, at a time when the economic landscape is a mixed one: The U.S. job market appears resilient. Consumer spending and home sales look solid. But the economy is likely slowing. President Donald Trump’s trade wars have magnified uncertainties. And inflation remains chronically below the Fed’s target level.
Powell and the Fed have recently made clear they will do whatever they deem “appropriate” to sustain the economic expansion — a message that traders have interpreted to mean a coming rate cut.
Validity of Obama health care law at issue in appeal hearing
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With health insurance availability, cost and coverage on the line for millions of Americans, a federal appeals court seemed inclined Tuesday to rule that the core provision of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is unconstitutional.
Two Republican-appointed judges on a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals peppered lawyers defending the law with skeptical questions, appearing to suggest they might hold that when Congress zeroed out a tax imposed by the law in 2017 it rendered unconstitutional the mandate to purchase health insurance.
The hearing marked the latest development in a 2018 lawsuit by 18 Republican-leaning states claiming that the absence of a tax converts the law into an unconstitutional directive to U.S. citizens to buy a product.
It was unclear when the panel would rule. The case is likely headed to the Supreme Court, where the same five-justice majority that has twice voted to uphold the law — in 2012 and 2015.
SKorean leader denounces Japanese comments over sanctions
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in has criticized comments by Japanese officials who questioned the credibility of Seoul’s sanctions against North Korea while justifying Tokyo’s stricter controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.
The issue has become a full-blown diplomatic dispute between the neighbouring U.S. allies.
In a meeting with business leaders today, Moon said Seoul was committed to finding a diplomatic solution and urged Japan to refrain from pushing the situation to a “dead-end street.”
He spoke hours after South Korean officials told a WTO meeting in Geneva that the Japanese measures would have repercussions for electronics products worldwide and called for their withdrawal. Japanese officials countered that the measures didn’t amount to a trade embargo, but rather a review of export controls based on security concerns.
DC sues Marriott, claims resort fees are deceptive
WASHINGTON (AP) — The attorney general for the District of Columbia is suing Marriott, saying it’s misleading customers by advertising room rates without including mandatory resort fees.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court after an investigation conducted by all 50 state attorneys general.
According to the lawsuit, Marriott doesn’t include mandatory resort fees in the room rates it displays online. Consumers only discover the fees after they begin to book a room. They may also be called “amenity fees” or “destination fees.”
The lawsuit says at least 189 Marriott hotels worldwide charge the fees, which range from $9 to $95 per day. It’s seeking a court order to require Marriott to advertise the fees up front.
Marriott says it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but is continuing its discussions with other state attorneys general.
Federal court says Amazon can be sued over defective product
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be sued over a defective product sold by one of its third-party vendors.
A Pennsylvania woman sued after a retractable dog leash she bought online snapped and hit her four years ago, leaving her permanently blind in one eye.
In a 2-1 decision released last week, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Amazon can be classified as a seller in part because it doesn’t allow customers to communicate directly with third-party vendors.
The court also said a 1990s federal law governing the publishing of third-party content doesn’t shield Amazon from liability.
The dissenting judge called it an “uncharted area of law” and noted that numerous rulings in other states have barred consumers from suing Amazon for liability.
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AT&T pulls ‘Friends’ from Netflix for its streaming service
NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T is pulling “Friends” from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. With new services launching, popular shows are splintering onto several different platforms.
The wireless company, which owns the WarnerMedia entertainment business, also says its service will be called HBO Max.
It will launch in spring of 2020. As the name suggests, it will contain HBO content, other video from the Warner Bros. studio and new series and movies that are exclusive to the service. AT&T has not announced a price.
EU fines Hello Kitty owner $7 million in antitrust ruling
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union authorities have fined the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty for restricting cross-border online sales of toys, mugs, bags and other products featuring the cartoon cat girl.
The EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, says that Sanrio Co. was fined 6.2 million euros ($7 million) on Tuesday because the company violated the bloc’s competition rules with licensing agreements that banned traders from selling merchandise in different countries in the bloc.
The commission found Sanrio’s illegal practices were in force for 11 years until December.
Sanrio says the fine will be recorded as an extraordinary loss in its fiscal first quarter financial statement. The company says it has co-operated with the investigation.
The Associated Press