^FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mixed after China eases trade tensions

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed today after China and the U.S. moved to ease trade tensions. Investors drew encouragement from China's decision to exempt some U.S. products from a recent round of tariffs.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.8% today, while the Shanghai Composite index also added 0.8%. The S&P ASX 200 rose 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.1%. Shares also fell in Singapore and Jakarta but rose in Taiwan.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the push into technology companies marked a reversal from the first couple of days of the week, when traders bid up energy, financials and other sectors that had sold off in recent weeks.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7% to 3,000.93, the first time it has finished above 3,000 points since July 30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8%, to 27,137.04, while the Nasdaq picked up 1.1%, to 8,169.68.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks outpaced the broader market, climbing 2.1%, to 1,575.71.

^TRUMP-VAPING

Government plans to ban flavors used in e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, responding to a recent surge in underage vaping that has alarmed parents, politicians and health authorities nationwide.

Wednesday’s surprise announcement by President Donald Trump could remake the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which has been driven by sales of flavored nicotine formulas such as "grape slushie" and "strawberry cotton candy."

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco.

Trump, whose son Barron is 13 years old, says vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what's happening. He says, "We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected.”

^TRUMP-TARIFFS-CHINA

Trump agrees to 2-week delay in China tariff increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the United States has agreed to a two-week delay in a planned increase in tariffs on some Chinese imports.

Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday that the delay is "a gesture of good will."

He says Chinese Vice Premier Liu (loo) requested the delay "due to the fact that the People's Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary ... on October 1st."

Trump has imposed or announced penalties on about $550 billion of Chinese products, or almost everything the United States buys from China. Tariffs of 25% that were imposed previously on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods were due to rise to 30% on October 1st.

Instead, Trump says, that will be delayed until October 15th.

^BUDGET BATTLE

Abortion, border wall put major spending bills into disarray

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fights over abortion and President Donald Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall have thrown Senate efforts to advance $1.4 trillion worth of agency spending bills into disarray.

At risk is one of Washington's few bipartisan accomplishments this year.

A government shutdown remains unlikely, but agencies face weeks or months on autopilot while frozen at this year's levels if the logjam isn't broken.

At issue are 12 annual budget bills to fund the day-to-day operations of the government. The bills are needed to fill in the details of this summer's budget and debt deal, which reversed cuts scheduled to slash the Pentagon and domestic programs and increased the government's borrowing cap so it won't default.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has been beset by infighting in advance of a bill drafting session.

^VETERANS-EMERGENCY CARE

VA may have to pay billions in vets' emergency care bills

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government may be required to pay billions of dollars in emergency care claims to veterans after a federal court ruled this week that the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied reimbursements for such care received at non-VA facilities.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Monday said federal law mandated the VA to pay the emergency medical expenses if they aren't covered by private insurance.

The case stemmed in part from a reimbursement sought by Coast Guard veteran Amanda Wolfe, who had a bout of appendicitis in September 2016 and sought care at a nearby civilian hospital.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs said the ruling could cost VA $1.8 billion to $6.5 billion in reimbursements to thousands of veterans with claims from 2016 through 2025.

^CONGRESS-OFFSHORE DRILLING

House approves oil drilling ban off Atlantic, Pacific coasts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved legislation that would permanently bar drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extend a moratorium on drilling off Florida's west coast.

Lawmakers approved the bans in separate votes Wednesday. The Atlantic and Pacific measure was approved 238-189, while the bill to block drilling in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida was approved 248-180.

Coastal lawmakers from both parties say the bills will protect U.S. coasts from drilling that can pollute crucial waters — and lead to disasters such as the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, say the bills undercut domestic energy security and limit thousands of job opportunities.

The Trump administration is reevaluating a plan to sharply expand offshore drilling amid a series of court challenges.

^EMIRATES-OPEC

New Saudi energy minister calls for OPEC 'cohesiveness'

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia's new energy minister again is calling for "cohesiveness" in OPEC ahead of a meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman made the comment today at a meeting of OPEC's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee in Abu Dhabi.

The prince said: "To achieve market stability, it's important we sustain a high level of cohesiveness."

^THOMAS KELLER-LAWSUIT

Retrial ordered in bias case against noted restaurant group

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California judge is ordering a retrial in a pregnancy discrimination case brought against the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

The celebrated chef and his acclaimed restaurants — Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in California — were cleared of wrongdoing by a jury in a June trial, which the plaintiff Vanessa Scott-Allen then appealed.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Wednesday that Napa County Superior Court judge Victoria Wood agreed with Scott-Allen's argument that there was not enough evidence to justify the verdict. She says there was misconduct by the jury and defense counsel.

Scott-Allen worked at Per Se for five years before requesting a transfer to Keller's Napa Valley restaurant. She claimed she was let go after telling her bosses she was pregnant.

^JAPAN-YAHOO-ZOZO

Yahoo Japan plans tender offer for retailer Zozo at $3.7B

TOKYO (AP) — Yahoo Japan Corp. says it will put up a tender offer, estimated at 400 billion yen ($3.7 billion), for Zozo Inc., a Japanese online retailer started by a celebrity tycoon.

Yahoo Japan announced the plan today, which includes a business alliance with Zozo.

Zozo Chief Executive Yusaku Maezawa is known for lavish spending on artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Stradivarius violin and a future trip to the moon.

Maezawa, who owns nearly 37% of the company, will step down and sell nearly 93 million shares of his more than 112 million shares, according to the plan.

^WALMART-GROCERY SUBSCRIPTION

Walmart rolls out unlimited grocery delivery subscription

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is rolling out an unlimited grocery delivery subscription service this fall as it races to gain an advantage in the competitive fresh food business.

The service will charge an annual membership fee of $98 for subscribers to access unlimited same-day delivery, which will be offered in 1,400 stores in 200 markets. By year-end, it will extend to a total of 1,600 stores — or more than 50% of the country.

The move allows the nation's largest grocer to further tap into time-starved shoppers looking for convenience at a time when Walmart is locked in an arms race with Amazon and others to expand fresh-food delivery.

About two years ago, Amazon purchased Whole Food Market Inc. and is now is offering same-day grocery delivery in various cities.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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