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Update on the latest in business:


Stocks stay near record highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wavering between small gains and losses as investors pause following several record-setting rallies.

The S&P 500 index is near the record level from Monday, its fourth all-time high in six days. The Nasdaq and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were also trading near the record highs they set on Monday.

Wall Street has been growing more optimistic as the U.S. and China appear closer to solidifying the first phase of a trade war truce.


Trade deficit falls to $52.5 billion in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit fell in September to the lowest level in five months as imports dropped more sharply than exports and America ran a rare surplus in petroleum.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the September gap between what America buys from abroad and what it sells shrank by 4.7% to $52.5 billion. That was down from the August deficit of $55 billion and was the smallest imbalance since April.

The politically sensitive deficit with China edged down 0.6% to $31.6 billion.

President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion in Chinese imports. China has retaliated with its own tariffs on American products as the world’s two largest economies have engaged in a trade war that has rattled global financial markets and slowed economic growth.


US job openings decline in September though remain healthy

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers advertised fewer open jobs in September compared with the previous month, but the number of open jobs remains high by historic standards.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of available jobs fell to 7 million, from 7.3 million in August. Job openings peaked at 7.6 million in November and have slowly declined since.

Overall hiring increased in September while the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell. Quits are typically a good sign because most workers leave a job when they have found a new one, often for better pay.

Despite the decline in openings, the report suggests the job market broadly remains healthy. The number of unemployed workers has also fallen, leaving 1.2 open jobs, on average, for every unemployed person.


US services companies growth rebounds in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies grew at a faster pace in October after sinking to a three-year low in September.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its service index grew to 54.7% last month, up from 52.6% in September. Any reading above 50 signals growth.

Measures of sales, new orders and employment all rebounded from the previous month.

The service sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, has been expanding for 117 straight months, according to the survey-based ISM index.

Companies surveyed for the index say they are still having some difficulty finding workers, due to a historically low 3.6 percent unemployment rate.


EU’s Barnier warns of tough times ahead on UK trade deal

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says talks on a free trade deal with the U.K. once the country has left the bloc might be as tough as the Brexit talks over the past years.

Barnier told the Web Summit in Lisbon that already by next summer it will be clear if the transition period put in place to agree on future relations between Britain and the bloc will have to be extended beyond the end of next year.

There are fears that Britain will transform itself into a low-regulation economy that would undercut stringent EU social, environmental and other standards.

Barnier warned that “the UK should not think that zero tariffs, zero quotas will be enough. The EU will insist on zero tariffs, zero quotas and zero dumping.”


AP source: White House finds Pelosi drug plan ‘unworkable’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices is “unworkable” and President Donald Trump is instead supporting bipartisan Senate legislation.

A senior White House official tells The Associated Press the administration has concluded that Pelosi’s approach toward Medicare drug price negotiations “can’t be fixed in any reasonable amount of time.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations.

Trump is instead backing a bipartisan Senate bill from Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden. It would limit what seniors pay out of their own pockets for medications, while also requiring drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they hike prices beyond the inflation rate.

Prospects for any legislation appear difficult this year.


Attorney: Buffalo Wild Wings needs to revamp training

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — An attorney representing a group of black customers who say they were asked to move to another table at a Chicago-area Buffalo Wild Wings because of their skin color says a lawsuit won’t be necessary if the restaurant chain changes the way it hires and trains employees.

Two adults who attended last month’s children’s birthday party in Naperville spoke to reporters Tuesday during an emotional news conference. They said a manager explained another customer wanted the group to relocate because he was uncomfortable sitting near black people.

Attorney Cannon Lambert detailed the demands the group is seeking. The company said in a statement that the two employees who told the group to move have been fired and other employees at its Chicago-area restaurants would take part in sensitivity training.


Lawmakers want Twitter to fight Census disinformation

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — U.S. lawmakers say they have concerns Twitter may be used to spread disinformation about the 2020 Census, and they’ve asked the company for details on how it will combat the threat.

Almost five dozen Democratic lawmakers wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about their concerns Monday.

Their letter notes Twitter and other social media were used by “malicious actors” to manipulate voters during the 2016 presidential election. They say banning false information about the census and identifying false accounts will help ensure public trust.

In a statement Tuesday, Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough says the company has been discussing with the Census Bureau how best to support a successful 2020 Census. She says company policy prohibits false information about civic events.

Twitter last week announced it was ending political campaign and issue ads.


Prada signs loan with rates linked to sustainability

MILAN (AP) — The Prada fashion group has signed what is billed as the first business loan in the luxury goods sector linking the annual interest rate to practices that help the environment.

Prada said Tuesday that the five-year, 50 million-euro ($55-million) loan with Credit Agricole Group will see interest rates lowered based on “achievement of ambitious targets related to sustainability.”

The targets include the number of stores that meet defined standards for “green” buildings, education workshops for employees and the use of regenerated nylon in collections.

The fashion world, recognized as the second most polluting industry after oil, has been working in recent years to adopt more environment-friendly practices. Prada’s efforts include a project, called Prada Re-Nylon, to use recycled nylon made from plastic recovered from oceans in its trademark nylon bags.


Germany: World united on climate pact despite US pullout

BERLIN (AP) — Germany says the U.S. government’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement is “regrettable” but no surprise.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Tuesday that the U.S. had announced its plan to withdraw from the pact two years ago and “luckily it has remained alone in doing so.”

Nearly 200 nations signed the landmark 2015 climate deal to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, with each country providing its own goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Schulze said the “domino effect” some had feared after U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement didn’t occur.

“The rest of the world stands together on climate protection,” she said in a statement, noting that even Russia, a fossil fuel exporter, recently joined the pact.


Germany’s highest court curbs cuts to jobless benefits

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s highest court has limited how drastically authorities can cut benefits to jobless people who refuse to cooperate in seeking a new job.

The Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling Tuesday stemmed from a case in which an unemployed man had his benefits cut because he rejected a job offer and refused to work on probation.

Under a system introduced in the mid-2000s, people receiving long-term jobless benefits can have payments reduced by 30% if they refuse a job, and by 60% or even lose the benefits altogether if they fall foul of authorities several times within a year.

The court found that the more drastic cuts violate the constitution and that only cuts of 30% are permissible.

Associated Press


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