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Asian shares higher after selloffs spurred by Chinese virus

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly higher in Asia today after U.S. stocks tumbled overnight as a virus outbreak in China rattled global markets.

Japan's Nikkei 225 is up 0.7% today and the Kospi in South Korea has surged 1.2%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng is up 1.3%. The Shanghai Composite index recovered from early losses, picking up 0.2%. Shares are lower in Malaysia but higher in Singapore and Indonesia.

Yesterday’s Wall Street selloff snapped a three-day winning streak by the S&P 500.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 3,320.79. It had fallen as much as 0.4% earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%, to 29,196.04. The Nasdaq composite slid 0.2%, to 9,370.81. Smaller-company stocks took the brunt of the selling. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.8%, to 1,685.90.


UN report: 70% of world lives where inequality has grown

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. report says that more than 70% of the world’s people live in countries where inequality has grown since 1990, including China and India, and growing inequalities are benefiting the wealthiest.

But the World Social Report 2020 adds that increasing inequality is not a universal trend, saying there has been a decline in income inequality over the last two decades in most countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and in many African countries.

The report says despite this progress, the share of income going to the richest 1% of the global population increased in 46 out of 57 countries and areas for which data is available for 1990 to 2015.


UK lays out tough child data privacy rules

LONDON (AP) — Social media sites, games and other online services won’t be allowed to “nudge” British kids into revealing personal details or lowering their privacy settings, under tough new rules drawn up by the country’s privacy regulator.

The set of standards aimed at protecting children’s online privacy were released today by the Information Commissioner’s Office for Parliament’s approval.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says, “There are laws to protect children in the real world - film ratings, car seats, age restrictions on drinking and smoking. We need our laws to protect children in the digital world too.”


Netflix holds its own in the streaming wars - for now

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is holding its ground in the streaming wars, passing its first big test since Apple and Disney launched rival services.

The company added 8.8 million worldwide subscribers during its fourth quarter, surpassing expectations at a time when it faces heated competition.

Netflix had said it expected to add 7.6 million subscribers, and analysts thought the service would fare even better. The increase pales slightly next to the 8.9 million subscribers the service added in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The stock dropped about 2.5% immediately in after-hours trading, likely due to a cautious forecast for the first quarter. But shares rebounded and later traded up more than 2%.


Maryland GOP governor wants more visas for foreign workers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland's Republican governor on Tuesday urged federal officials to allow more H-2B visas for foreign workers to help the state's $355 million seafood industry and seasonal employers.

Gov. Larry Hogan made the request in a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Hogan also called for a long-term solution.

Hogan writes, “These workers are vital to rural Maryland and in particular our Eastern Shore." Hogan says, "In addition to lifting the cap, I ask that you partner with Congress and Maryland’s congressional delegation to finally find a long-term solution to this issue.”

The governor says that in a typical year, 500 H-2B seasonal workers are needed for Maryland's 20 licensed crab picking houses. The number of H-2B visas is now capped at 66,000 nationally.


GM's Cruise heads down new road with new robotaxi concept

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — General Motors' self-driving car company will attempt to deliver on its long-running promise to provide a more environmentally friendly ride-hailing service in an unorthodox vehicle designed to eliminate the need for human operators to transport people around crowded cities.

The service still being developed by GM's Cruise subsidiary will rely on a boxy, electric-powered vehicle called “Origin" that was unveiled late Tuesday in San Francisco amid much fanfare.

It looks like a cross between a mini-van and sports utility vehicle with one huge exception — it won't have any steering wheel or brakes.

The Origin will accommodate up to four passengers at a time, although a single customer will be able summon it for a ride just as people already can ask for a car with a human behind the wheel from Uber or Lyft.

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