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FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks higher on Wall Street led by technology

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon and other companies that rely on consumer spending have been leading stocks higher, as traders focused on another round of mostly solid corporate earnings.

Major indexes are trading above records set on Monday as Wall Street again brushes off fears about the virus outbreak that originated in China. The Chinese government has promised to take measures to soften the blow to its economy and investors are hopeful that other governments will do the same if necessary.

Cruise operators, hotels and other companies that focus on travelers made solid gains. Banks rose broadly as bond yields climbed.

Chipmakers made some of the biggest gains within the technology sector, including a 3.2% rise for Advanced Micro Devices.

JOB OPENINGS

WASHINGTON (AP) — US businesses sharply cut the number of open jobs in December for the second straight month, an unusual sign of weakness in an otherwise healthy job market.

The number of available positions dropped 5.4%, to 6.4 million. That's a historically solid number that exceeds the number of those who are unemployed.

Yet the Labor Department numbers released Tuesday show that the number of job openings has fallen by more than 1 million in the past year, the biggest annual drop since the Great Recession. Most of that decline has occurred in just the past two months.

Job openings are now at their lowest level in two years.

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL-CONGRESS

Powell: Economy looks resilient despite risk of China virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. economy appears durable with steady growth and unemployment near a half-century low but faces risks from the broadening viral outbreak that began in China.

Delivering the Fed’s semiannual monetary report to Congress, Powell says the Fed is content with where interest rates are, suggesting that no further rate cuts are being contemplated unless economic conditions were to change significantly.

President Donald Trump let it be known during Powell’s appearance that he was not happy with the message on interest rates, tweeting: ”Fed rate is too high. Dollar tough on exports.”

Many analysts say the Fed could keep rates unchanged this year, although some think it will feel compelled to cut rates at least once. The Fed cut interest rates three times last year after having raised rates four times in 2018.

T-MOBILE-SPRINT

Judge clears major hurdle in T-Mobile's $26.5B Sprint bid

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has removed a major obstacle to T-Mobile's $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint.

He rejects claims by a group of states that the deal would mean less competition and higher phone bills. The judge says that possibility is remote.

After the deal closes, the number of major U.S. wireless companies would shrink from four to three.

T-Mobile says the deal would benefit consumers as it becomes a fiercer competitor to the larger Verizon and AT&T. But a group of state attorneys general tried to block the deal. New York's attorney general says an appeal is possible.

UNDER ARMOUR-RESULTS

Under Armour may put NYC flagship store on ice, restructure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Under Armour shares are plunging with the company anticipating a big financial hit from the viral outbreak in China and saying separately that it may need to restructure this year at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also said Tuesday that it may scuttle the opening of its flagship store on Manhattan's 5th Avenue.

Shares tumbled 16% as trading opening on Wall Street.

The athletic gear company anticipates the virus outbreak in China will drag first-quarter sales down by $50 million to $60 million. It's also looking at pre-tax charges this year of between $325 million to $425 million related to restructuring.

TESLA INVESTIGATION

Man killed in Tesla crash had complained about Autopilot

DETROIT (AP) — An Apple engineer who died when his Tesla Model X hit a concrete barrier had complained before his death that the SUV’s Autopilot system would malfunction in the area where the crash happened.

The complaints were detailed in documents released Tuesday by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the March, 2018 crash that killed engineer Walter Huang.

The documents say Huang told his wife that Autopilot had previously veered his SUV toward the barrier on U.S. 101 near Mountain View, California. Tesla says

Autopilot is a partially automated system designed to keep a vehicle in its lane and keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of it. It also can change lanes with driver approval. Tesla says it’s a driver assistance system and that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

SPORTS BETTING-MAINE

Maine Legislature sustains governor's veto of sports betting

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A sports betting proposal in the Maine Legislature is dead.

The Maine House on Tuesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

The Senate voted last week to override the veto by a single vote. But a senator who cast the crucial vote later said she'd voted the wrong way by mistake.

In vetoing the bill last month, Mills said she was unconvinced that the majority of Mainers were ready to endorse legalized betting on competitive athletic events.

In New England, New Hampshire and Rhode Island allow sports betting.

SEAWORLD-LAWSUIT

SeaWorld settles investors' lawsuit over orca documentary

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld Entertainment has agreed to pay $65 million to settle a lawsuit in which the theme park company was accused of misleading investors over the impact the documentary “Blackfish” was having on its bottom line.

SeaWorld didn't admit to any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

The settlement agreement must be approved by the court.

Attendance and revenue declined after the release of the 2013 documentary about the life of Tilikum, an orca that killed a SeaWorld trainer during a performance in Orlando in 2010.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

European Central Bank chief urges governments to help growth

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is urging governments to get more involved in supporting the tepid eurozone economy through targeted spending and business-friendly reforms.

Lagarde said that “"other policy areas... have to play their part” in helping the economy. She warned that monetary policy “cannot, and should not be, the only game in town.”

The remarks in front of the European Parliament on Tuesday played into a debate over the bank’s record low interest rates and money-printing bond purchases, which have been criticized in Germany for their impact on savers and potential role in inflating asset prices.

Lagarde’s answer has been that governments should focus less on balancing budgets or running surpluses and more on pro-growth spending.

EUROPE-BREXIT

EU chief rejects Johnson's idea of loose UK trade deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's top official is dismissing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's idea of brokering a loose trade deal with the EU.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday that Britain will be offered unique access to the EU's single market only if it agrees to still stick to the bloc's standards.

Von der Leyen said she was surprised Johnson raised the possibility that Britain would accept Australia-style trade arrangements if his government and the EU can't reach a comprehensive trade agreement. She says while Australia “is a strong and like-minded partner,” the EU and Australia do not have a trade agreement and “are currently trading on WTO (World Trade Organization) terms."

Britain became the first member nation to leave the EU on Jan. 31. The country is continuing to follow EU regulations during a transition period.

BRITAIN-HIGH SPEED RAIL

UK's Johnson backs high speed railway despite opposition

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Conservative government has approved an overdue, over-budget plan for a high-speed rail line linking London with central and northern England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his Cabinet had given the “green light” to the project, known as High Speed 2 or HS2.

The approval comes despite opposition from environmentalists and some members of the governing party.

Johnson acknowledged HS2 had been plagued by bad management but said that did not detract from the value of building it.

The first 140-mile stretch of the line will link London to Birmingham, England's second-largest city, with trains traveling up to 225 miles an hour.

Opponents claim the plan is too expensive and will ruin tracts of picturesque countryside.

GLOBAL EMISSIONS

Global energy-related carbon emissions flat in 2019

BERLIN (AP) — Global energy-related emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide remained steady last year.

Data published Tuesday showed declines in rich countries balancing out a rise in poor nations.

The International Energy Agency said emissions of the main man-made greenhouse gas stayed at 33 gigatons in 2019, while the world economy grew by 2.9%.

The country with the biggest drop in energy-related CO2 emissions was the United States. The European Union and Japan also saw its emissions fall, while the rest of the world recorded an increase.

The agency cites “the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas, and higher nuclear power generation” for the declining emissions in advanced economies.

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

The Associated Press

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