Business Highlights

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Lebanon receives Interpol notice for ex-Nissan fugitive

BEIRUT (AP) — Interpol has issued a wanted notice for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges. His escape has baffled and embarrassed authorities. Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan says Lebanon “will carry out its duties,” suggesting for the first time that the automotive titan may be brought in for questioning. But he says Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, and he appears to be casting doubt on the possibility Lebanon would hand Ghosn over to Japan.

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Trump’s plan to curb teen vaping exempts some flavours

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials will ban most flavoured e-cigarettes popular with underage teenagers. But the plan from the Trump administration includes major exceptions that benefit companies that make and sell e-cigarettes and adults who use the nicotine-emitting devices. The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday the policy won’t affect menthol or tobacco flavours. The policy also won’t affect large, tank-based vaping products sold in vape shops that cater to adults.

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A milestone for French rail strikes: 29th day of walkouts

PARIS (AP) — It’s the 29th straight day of French rail strikes against government plans to reform the country’s retirement system. The walkouts marked a new milestone on Thursday, surpassing even a 1986-1987 rail strike in longevity. The latest French strikes, which began Dec. 5, have crippled transit services across the country, including over the Christmas-New Year holiday.

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Global air crash deaths fall by more than half in 2019

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Far fewer people died in major air crashes around the world last year. Statistics compiled by aviation consulting firm To70 in the Netherlands show that the number of deaths fell by more than half in 2019, to 257 fatalities in eight accidents all year. That’s significantly less than the 534 air fatalities in 2018. The 2019 death toll rose in late December after a plane crash in Kazakhstan that took 12 lives. All in all, however, the numbers show that flying got safer last year. There was just one fatal accident for every 5.58 million takeoffs.

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Washington state sues Johnson & Johnson over opioid crisis

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company was negligent when it used deceptive marketing to say the drugs were effective for treating pain and were unlikely to cause addiction. The lawsuit filed Thursday says the company that supplies raw materials used to make opiates drove the pharmaceutical industry to recklessly expand the production of the drugs.

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Investors could be partying like it’s 1997, but many sat out

NEW YORK (AP) — This past year was one of the best in decades for fund investors, as investments of all kinds made money. From risky funds full of stocks from developing economies to stodgy funds holding only super-safe Treasury bonds, investments around the world climbed as central banks cut rates and trade tensions between the United States and China eventually eased a bit. For all the ebullience, however, many investors jumped off the ride, or at least decided not to join in. Investors pulled money out of U.S. stock funds last year. They flocked instead to bond funds.

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2020 brings higher labour costs for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses have plenty of changes to deal with as 2020 begins. Many companies will see higher labour costs — as of Jan. 1, there are higher minimum wages in a quarter of the states and new federal rules that require more than a million workers to now be paid overtime. The IRS has new W-4 forms owners must start using. Plastic bags are on their way out at stores and other businesses in a growing number of places around the country. And California has new laws on freelance workers and consumer privacy that can affect companies located in other states.

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US long-term mortgage rates ease; 30-year loan at 3.72%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates declined slightly this week. They’ve been hovering at historically low levels for the past two months. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 3.72% from 3.74% last week. That benchmark rate stood at 4.51% a year ago.

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American Airlines vows to share Boeing proceeds with workers

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines says it’s talking to Boeing about compensation for grounded planes and will share some of the proceeds with airline employees. American had 24 Boeing 737 Max jets when the planes were grounded in March after two deadly crashes. The airline has cancelled thousands of flights due to the missing planes. Boeing is negotiating with other airlines over compensation. It has estimated the cost at $5.6 billion.

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Wall Street gets 2020 off to a solid start with more records

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks got the New Year off to a roaring start with more solid gains and record highs for major U.S. indexes, following up on a strong finish to 2019. Investors were encouraged by news that China’s central bank will free up more money for lending. Technology companies including Apple accounted for a good part of the upward move.

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The S&P 500 climbed 27.07 points, or 0.8%, to 3,257.85. The Dow rose 330.36 points, or 1.2%, to 28,868.80. The Nasdaq composite gained 119.58 points, or 1.3%, to 9,092.19. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 1.70 points, or 0.1%, to 1,666.77.

The Associated Press

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