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FINANCIAL MARKETS

Gold, oil prices retreat, shares rebound in Asian trading

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares advanced in Asia today following modest gains on Wall Street despite caution over rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

U.S. officials are bracing for Iran to respond to the killing by a U.S. drone of its most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani.

Still, most regional benchmarks rose, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index adding 1.6%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng picking up 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite index gaining 0.6%.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 1%, Australia's S&P ASX 200 climbed 1.4%.

Shares fell 0.6% in Taiwan but rose in most of Southeast Asia.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 pushed steadily higher through the day, recovering half its sharp loss from Friday. It climbed 0.4% to 3,246.28, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 28,703.38. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6%, to 9,071.46.

SPACEX-SATELLITE LAUNCH

SpaceX launches 60 more satellites, trying to tone them down

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX launched 60 more mini internet satellites late Monday, this time testing a dark coating to appease stargazers.

It's a "first step" compromise between SpaceX and astronomers fearful of having dark skies spoiled by hundreds and, eventually, thousands of bright satellites circling overhead.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted into a cold, clear night sky, recycled by SpaceX for its fourth flight. As the first-stage booster flew to a vertical landing on an ocean platform, the Starlink satellites continued hurtling toward orbit to join 120 similar spacecraft launched last year. Flight controllers applauded, and the launch commentator described the booster's fourth touchdown as “awesome.”

His Starlink fleet now numbering 180, SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk plans to ultimately launch thousands of these compact flat-panel satellites to provide global internet service. Each spacecraft is just 575 pounds.

CARLOS GHOSN

Nissan says ex-leader Ghosn still behind serious misconduct

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Kyodo News service says Tokyo prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for the wife of Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn (gohn), on suspicion of perjury.

Today’s move by Japanese prosecutors comes after Ghosn skipped bail and fled to Lebanon as he was awaiting trial for alleged financial misconduct.

Details on the allegations against Carole Ghosn, who is not in Japan, are not immediately available. Japanese officials have warned that those caught helping a fugitive will face legal consequences.

Prosecutors earlier say Carole Ghosn was banned from meeting with her husband after his release on bail because they feared she might help him escape.

Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty.

FRANCE-STRIKES

Talks to end hobbling walkouts resume in strike-bound France

PARIS (AP) — Negotiations to end record-setting strikes that have hobbled France's train network and made commuting miserable for Parisians are resuming today between the government and unions.

The government is fighting to overcome union opposition to its plans to reform France's pension system. It wants to push back the age at which retirees would be eligible for full pensions from 62 to 64.

It also wants to end some of the special pension deals that allow a minority of workers to retire in their fifties.

The government insists the new system will be fairer to all French workers and be financially sustainable. The government appealed for compromise before the resumption of talks at the Labor Ministry with unions and employer representatives.

Today marks the 34th day of disruptive train strikes and walkouts in the Paris Metro.

IKEA-DRESSER-TIPOVERS

Lawyers: IKEA to pay $46M in boy's dresser tipover death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — IKEA has agreed to pay $46 million to the parents of a 2-year-old boy who died of injuries suffered when a 70-pound (32-kilogram) recalled dresser tipped over onto him. That’s according to the family’s lawyers.

Jozef Dudek, of Buena Park, California, died in 2017 of his injuries, and his parents sued the Swedish home furnishings company in a Philadelphia court in 2018.

In the lawsuit, the Dudeks accused IKEA of knowing that its Malm dressers posed a tip-over hazard and that they had injured or killed a number of children, but that the company had failed to warn consumers that the dressers shouldn't be used without being anchored to a wall. The suit says the dresser was recalled in 2016.

The lawyers also say the settlement requires IKEA to meet with the advocacy organization, Parents Against Tip-overs, and broaden its outreach to consumers about the recall of IKEA dressers.

HALLMARK CARDS-JOB CUTS

Hallmark cutting about 400 jobs, mostly in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark Cards says it will cut about 400 jobs worldwide, including 325 at its headquarters of Kansas City, Missouri,

Hallmark will offer buyouts before turning to layoffs. The company said affected workers will receive severance pay and assistance as they seek new jobs. CEO Mike Perry blames “rapidly evolving retail and consumer environments” and the necessity to transform the way it does business.

Hallmark employs about 3,400 people in Kansas City and 30,000 people worldwide. In addition to greeting cards, it owns the Hallmark Channel on cable TV, Hallmark Gold Crown stores, the Crayola brand of art supplies, and a real estate development company that oversees Kansas City's Crown Center complex, where the headquarters is located.

PIER 1-STORE CLOSINGS

Pier 1 Imports closing nearly half of stores as sales falter

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Pier 1 Imports is closing nearly half its 942 stores as consumers increasingly shop online for home goods. The company said Monday it is closing up to 450 stores and will also shutter distribution centers. Pier 1 also plans layoffs at its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

It didn't say how many workers will be impacted. The home decor company said sales in its most recent quarter fell 13% to $358 million as store traffic fell. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter, which ended Nov. 30.

Pier 1's shares fell 17% to close at $5.18 Monday. The stock fell another 10% in extended trading following the announcement of the store closures.

GADGET SHOW-IMPOSSIBLE PORK

The other fake meat: Impossible Foods unveils pork, sausage

LAS VEGAS (AP) — After a big year for its plant-based burger, Impossible Foods has something new on its plate.

The California-based company unveiled Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage on Monday evening at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

It's Impossible Food's first foray beyond fake beef. The Impossible Burger, which went on sale in 2016, has been a key player in the growing category of vegan meats. Like the burger, Impossible Food's pork and sausage are made from soy but mimic the taste and texture of ground meat. It will be rolled out to restaurants first. Impossible Foods only recently began selling its burgers in grocery stores.

Burger King will give consumers their first taste of Impossible Sausage later this month in five U.S. cities.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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