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Asian stocks rise as China-US trade, Brexit fears recede

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher today as investors look ahead to a crowded week of corporate earnings, a possible U.S. interest rate cut and other potentially market-moving events.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8% and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.9%.

South Korea's Kospi was up 0.3% and Australia's S&P-ASX 200 was up 1 point at 6,740.70. Taiwan advanced while markets in New Zealand, Singapore and India are closed for holidays.

On Wall Street Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 index closed within 0.1% of its all-time high on July 26.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to 3,022.55 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% to 26,958.06. The Nasdaq climbed 0.7% to 8,243.12.


Survey: US business hiring falls to a 7-year low

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey has found a measure of hiring by U.S. companies has fallen to a seven-year low and fewer employers are raising pay.

One-fifth of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics say their companies have hired workers in the past three months. That's down from one-third in July. Job totals were unchanged at 69% of companies, up from 57% in July.

A broad measure of job gains in the survey fell to its lowest level since October 2012.

The slowdown comes as more businesses report slowing growth of sales and profits. Economists also expect growth to slow in the coming year, partly because tariffs have raised prices and lowered sales for many firms.

The NABE surveyed 101 economists at companies and trade associations from Sept. 26 through October 14.


LVMH seeking to buy luxury jeweler Tiffany

WASHINGTON (AP) _ News reports say luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has made an offer to purchase U.S. jeweler Tiffany & Co. The Wall Street Journal reports that LVMH has offered $120 a share, or $14.5 billion, for Tiffany. The offer comes as Tiffany, like other luxury brands, has struggled with stagnating sales as China's slowing economy has weighed on spending by Chinese tourists, who make up a substantial portion of luxury spending.

The purchase would add another household name to LVMH's plethora of upscale brands. It owns fashion names such as Christian Dior, Fendi, and Givenchy as well as watchmaker Tag Heuer.


Average US price of gas drops 4 cents per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) _ The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has dropped 4 cents per gallon over the past two weeks to $2.68. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says that there may be further drops soon, as refinery maintenance season starts to slow along with declines in demand for gasoline this time of year.

The price at the pump is 24 cents lower than it was a year ago.

The highest average price in the nation is $4.71 a gallon in San Francisco.

The lowest average is $2.12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The average price of diesel is unchanged at $3.06 per gallon.


Wegmans opens new store in Brooklyn

NEW YORK (AP) _ New Yorkers are flocking to greet a new arrival to the city _ Wegmans grocery store. The popular regional chain officially opened its first New York City outpost on Sunday a 74,000-square-foot store at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with more than 500 employees.

Despite the rain, crowds turned out Sunday to take a look at a selection the company says includes almost 50,000 items

It's the 101st store for Wegmans, which was founded over a century ago in Rochester, New York, and is still family-owned.

Wegmans has more than 40 stores in other parts of New York state, as well as store locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.


IMF: Volatile politics and oil prices hinder Mideast growth

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The International Monetary Fund says political uncertainty and volatile oil prices are hindering economic growth in the Middle East this year.

The IMF's regional outlook report published today projects growth to rise just 0.5% in 2019, compared to 1.6% in 2018. Increased activity in the oil and gas sectors is expected to generate a rebound to 2.7% growth in 2020, though this figure too falls shorter than previous projections.

The region is reeling from U.S. sanctions on Iran and last month's attack on the world's largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia, which caused prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. They've since settled.

The IMF says oil prices have swung from $55 to $75 a barrel since the start of the year.


S Korea proposes meeting on dormant tour project with North

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ South Korea says it has proposed a face-to-face meeting with North Korea over a now-shuttered joint tourist project at a scenic North Korean mountain. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of facilities at Diamond Mountain, saying they look "shabby" and "unpleasant-looking." The inter-Korean tourism project has been stalled since the 2008 shooting death of a South Korean tourist there.

North Korea later proposed an exchange of documents to work out details related to the facilities' possible destruction.

Seoul's Unification Ministry says South Korea sent a message today, proposing officials from the two Koreas meet to discuss issues on the tourism project.

The ministry says Seoul didn't propose a specific date and location for that meeting.

The development comes amid stalled U.S.-led diplomacy on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

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