NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting between small gains and losses on Wall Street as traders wait for more clarity on where things stand with trade talks between the U.S. and China.
Major indexes are holding close to the record highs they set on Thursday.
Gains for health care companies are being offset by losses in energy and other sectors.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.91%.
Trump pushes back on reports US will remove China tariffs
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed a Chinese official’s assertion that his administration has agreed to roll back some the higher tariffs it’s imposed on Chinese goods. The Chinese official had said Thursday that the two sides had agreed to a phased cancellation of their tariff hikes as part of an emerging agreement.
Trump’s pushback suggested that negotiations haven’t progressed as far as hoped as the world’s two biggest economies struggle to negotiate an end to their trade war, which has hurt both economies.
“They’d like to have a rollback,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to the Chinese. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
The two sides have been working on an initial “Phase 1” deal that was announced Oct. 12 but that still isn’t final.
China’s trade with US shrinks in October
BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade with the United States contracted again in October despite optimism about a possible deal aimed at ending a tariff war that threatens global economic growth.
Government data Friday showed Chinese imports of U.S. goods fell 14.3% from a year earlier while exports to the United States sank 16.2%.
The two sides announced a tentative agreement Oct. 12 that prompted President Donald Trump to suspend a planned tariff hike on Chinese goods. But penalties already imposed remained in place, depressing trade in goods from American soybeans to medical equipment.
China’s global exports sank 0.9% from a year earlier while imports were off 6.4%, adding to signs of weakening domestic demand.
$3 billion in federal disaster aid going out to states
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The federal government is announcing $800 million in aid to farmers in four southern states devastated by hurricanes Michael and Florence last year.
It’s part of a $3 billion disaster relief package authorized by Congress to help communities recovering from wildfires, flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes.
Florida alone will get $380 million in block grants. Georgia and Alabama are getting money as well. North Carolina was supposed to get money, but U.S. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Forcyce told The Associated Press in an interview that state and federal officials were still negotiating the terms on Friday.
Timber farmers in Florida suffered catastrophic losses when Hurricane Michael destroyed 2.8 million acres of commercially grown trees.
The announcement was made by Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and later confirmed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, ahead of one planned by federal officials later Friday.
Trump to pursue higher sales age for e-cigarettes
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says his administration will support raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.
Trump said Friday his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.
Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product under federal law is 18. But more than a third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.
Administration officials were widely expected to release a plan this week for removing most flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.
But details on the proposed flavor ban have yet to appear.
Friends, family support Twitter employee charged in spy case
SEATTLE (AP) — Family and friends of a former Twitter employee accused of spying for Saudi Arabia say he is a dedicated husband and father who has overcome recent mental health struggles.
Authorities say Ahmad Abouammo acted as an agent of Saudi Arabia without registering with the U.S. government. Prosecutors say he and another man were rewarded by Saudi royal officials with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts.
Abouammo is due in Seattle federal court Friday for a detention hearing. Two other suspects are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.
Relatives and friends of Abouammo say in letters of support filed to the court that he was always willing to help others, even after he moved to the United States.
World Bank official raises alarm on Lebanon
BEIRUT (AP) — The World Bank’s regional director is urging Lebanon to form a new Cabinet “within a week” to prevent further degradation and loss of confidence in its economy.
Saroj Kumar Jha told The Associated Press on Friday that the increasing risks to Lebanon’s economic and financial stability are deeply concerning.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned his government on Oct. 29 in response to unprecedented anti-government protests which have swept Lebanon starting in the middle of last month.
The protests erupted over proposed new taxes and have snowballed into calls for the government and for the entire political elite to resign, further paralyzing the country.
More than a week after Hariri resigned, President Michel Aoun has not yet set a date for consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new premier.
German exports rise as country tries to avoid recession
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Official figures show that German exports rose unexpectedly in September, fueling speculation that Europe’s biggest economy may avoid sliding into a shallow recession by posting negative growth for the third quarter of the year.
Germany’s statistics agency Destatis said exports rose a monthly 1.5% in September, way ahead of market forecasts for a 0.3% increase.
August’s decline was revised to show that exports only fell by 0.9%, half the original estimate of 1.8%.
The figures suggest Germany may avoid following up the 0.1% quarterly decline in economic output in the second quarter with another in the third. A decline in figures out Nov. 14 would show the country in a shallow recession; two straight quarters of declining output is a frequently used definition of recession.
Tech companies rush to fight misinformation ahead of UK vote
LONDON (AP) — Social media companies are under pressure to combat political misinformation ahead of next month’s general election in the United Kingdom.
The Dec. 12 election will be among the first since Twitter announced a ban on political ads to stem the flow of election-related misinformation.
Facebook has been criticized for its policy of not fact checking or removing false political ads, but the company insists it’s taking other steps to safeguard Britain’s election. They include the creation of an operations center to quickly identify online election hoaxes.
Despite those efforts, Britain remains vulnerable because government officials have yet to act on recommendations for preventing the spread of misleading political ads and content.
Va. colleges get millions to boost computer science grads
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Several colleges and universities in Virginia will receive millions of dollars from the state to increase computer science graduate numbers as part of a deal with Amazon.
Gov. Ralph Northam told The Roanoke Times on Thursday that the state will partner with 11 schools for the Tech Talent Investment Program. The program was part of Virginia’s efforts to entice Amazon to build its second headquarters in Arlington.
Virginia Tech will receive $545 million. The school is expected to produce about 5,900 undergraduates and almost 10,300 graduate students with degrees in or related to computer science.
Tech’s forthcoming Innovation Campus was an essential part of Virginia winning the bid for the online retailer’s second headquarters. The company pledged to create 40,000 high paying jobs in exchange for $750 million in state tax incentives.
Amtrak reports record revenue, ridership, but still in red
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Amtrak is reporting record ridership and revenue figures for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The government-owned passenger railroad said Friday it provided 32.5 million passenger trips. That’s an increase of about 800,000 over the previous fiscal year.
Ridership numbers were affected the last two years by summer repair work at New York’s Penn Station that forced some service cutbacks.
Total operating revenue rose more than 3 percent to $3.3 billion with an operating loss of just under $30 million. That’s the smallest loss in the heavily subsidized railroad’s 49-year history. Amtrak reported an operating loss of about $170 million in 2018.
Officials said they expect to break even by the end of the next fiscal year. Last year, they had projected eliminating operating losses by 2021.
^BEN & JERRY’S-LAWSUIT
Ben & Jerry’s sued over ‘happy cow’ characterization
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Ben & Jerry’s is facing a lawsuit accusing the ice cream maker and its parent company of false advertising by saying the milk and cream in its products comes from “happy cows.”
In a complaint filed Oct. 31 in federal court in Burlington, Vermont, where Ben & Jerry’s was founded, environmental advocate James Ehlers accuses the company and Unilever of deceiving consumers.
He says many of the farms that produce the milk and cream are factory-style, mass production dairy operations. He says only some are part of the company’s “Caring Dairy” program.
Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood emailed Friday that the company doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits. He said it’s proud of the work it’s done with Vermont family farmers and is committed to building a resilient, regenerative dairy supply.
^WALL STREET BULL
NYC finalizing plans to move Wall Street Bull statue
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City says it’s finalizing plans to relocate Wall Street’s famous “Charging Bull” statue.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio tells that the bull will be placed in a new location somewhere near the New York Stock Exchange.
Jane Meyer says the move is being made “to protect the safety of New Yorkers.”
Last month, climate protesters doused the bull with fake blood. In September, a man bashed it with a toy metal banjo.
The sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, opposes moving the bull from its home on a traffic island.
In 2017, State Street Global Advisors commissioned another bronze sculpture, “Fearless Girl,” to face the bull. It was relocated last December to a spot outside the stock exchange after officials cited traffic hazards.