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Shares fall in Asia as virus outbreak hits profits, events

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares slipped in Asia today as the impact from the virus outbreak that began in China deepened, with Apple saying it would fail to meet its profit target and China moving to postpone or cancel major events including the Beijing auto show.

Today, Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 1.4% while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.3%. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.5%, while the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1% lower. Australia's S&P ASX/200 also was down less than 0.1%. Shares also fell in Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but rose in Jakarta.

Shanghai's benchmark jumped more than 2% on Monday after the central bank rolled out more measures to help support the economy. Most other markets also rose.


Beijing auto show is latest event delayed by virus fears

BEIJING (AP) — China's annual auto show, one of the industry's biggest international events, is being postponed in response to the continuing spread of a new virus.

The organizers of Auto China 2020 said in a statement that the sprawling event originally scheduled for April 21-30 in Beijing would be moved to an undetermined date. The Auto China show has taken on increasingly heft as global manufacturers seek to grow their sales in China's massive, but recently slowing, market for cars, trucks, vans and luxury vehicles.

That makes it the latest major event in China and other nations to be canceled or postponed out of virus fears, including the Shanghai Formula 1 Grand Prix, other sports events, a major art festival in Hong Kong and a key telecoms conference in Spain.


Apple warns China virus will cut iPhone production, sales

UNDATED (AP) — Apple Inc. is warning investors that it won't meet its second-quarter financial guidance because the viral outbreak in China has cut production of iPhones.

The Cupertino, California-based company said Monday that all of its iPhone manufacturing facilities are outside Hubei province, and all have been reopened, but production is ramping up slowly. The company says demand for iPhones is also down in China because Apple's retail stores are closed or operating with reduced hours.

On Jan. 28, Apple said it expected second quarter revenue between $63 billion and $67 billion. Apple's second quarter ends March 30.


Nissan shareholders angry at Ghosn scandal, dismal results

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan shareholders unleashed their anger at the Japanese automaker's management today for crashing stock prices, zero dividends and quarterly losses after the scandal-ridden departure of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn (gohn).

They got up, one by one, at the extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo, demanding Nissan quickly fix diving car sales, executives give up their pay and work harder to repair a battered brand.

Ghosn, a superstar executive who had led Nissan for two decades, was arrested in November 2018. He was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges in Tokyo when he skipped bail late last year and escaped to Lebanon. Ghosn, who has insisted on his innocence, has said he was targeted with trumped up charges because of what he called a conspiracy at Nissan to block a fuller merger with Renault.


Pier 1 files for bankruptcy protection amid online challenge

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc. says it has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company, which was founded in 1962, has been struggling with increased competition from online retailers such as Wayfair. Pier 1 said it will pursue a sale, with a March 23 deadline to submit bids.

In the meantime, Pier 1 said lenders have committed approximately $256 million in debtor-in-possession financing so it can continue its operations during the Chapter 11 proceedings.

Pier 1's sales fell 13% to $358 million in its most recent quarter, which ended Nov. 30. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter as it struggled to draw customers to its stores.

Last month, Pier 1 announced it would close 450 stores, including all of its stores in Canada. The company is also closing two distribution centers.


Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fight climate change

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Monday that he plans to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change.

Bezos, the world’s richest man, said in an Instagram post that he'll start giving grants this summer to scientists, activists and nonprofits working to protect the earth.

Amazon, the company Bezos runs, has an enormous carbon foodprint. Last year, Amazon officials said the company would work to have 100% of its energy use come from solar panels and other renewable energy by 2030.

The online retailer relies on fossil fuels to power planes, trucks and vans in order to ship billions of items all around the world. Amazon workers in its Seattle headquarters have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices, pushing it to do more to combat climate change.


HSBC net profit falls 53%, bank to sell assets in overhaul

UNDATED (AP) — Europe's biggest bank has reported that its net profit fell 53% in 2019 to $6 billion.

London-based HSBC, whose profit is mainly from Asia, says it plans to revamp its U.S. and European business and shed $100 billion in assets to improve its profitability.

The bank says the virus outbreak that began in China has caused a “significant disruption" for its staff, suppliers and customers, especially in the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong.

HSBC's revenue rose 5.9% in 2019 to $55.4 billion.

The sharp drop in 2019 profit reflected slower economic activity but also a $7.3 billion write-down for HSBC's Global Banking and Markets and Commercial Banking divisions in Europe. Pretax profit fell 33%, to $13.3 billion. HSBC reported $12.6 billion in net profit in 2018.


Former UAW President Owen Bieber dies aged 90

DETROIT (AP) — Owen Bieber, who led the United Auto Workers union from the auto industry's dark days of the early 1980s to the prosperity of the mid-1990s, has died. He was 90.

Taking over as its president in 1983, Bieber shepherded the UAW through a recession, the Reagan era, industry downsizing and rapidly expanding global competition. Bieber led the UAW through contract talks that won its members wages, benefits and job and income security that were unmatched in other major U.S. industries.

Under Bieber, the UAW also actively supported the Solidarity labor movement, which challenged Poland's Communist government, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

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