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Tokyo stocks open lower as yen's rise against US dollar dents exporters

File photo: CGTNTOKYO, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks opened lower Thursday as a comparatively firm yen against the U.S. dollar sent exporter issues lower, with some investors also opting for profits following the markets rise a day earlier.As of 9:15 a.m., the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 213.44 points, or 0.89 percent, from Wednesday to 23,817.91.The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, fell 10.78 points, or 0.62 percent, at 1,733.35.The majority of industry categories retreated into negative territory, with mining, marine transportation, and oil and coal product-linked issues comprising those that declined the most in the opening minutes after the morning bell.

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

This undated image provided by Cruise shows a rendering of an unorthodox electric vehicle called "Origin," being developed by GMs Cruise subsidiary. (Photo: 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.For all the hype surrounding the Origin’s unveiling, Cruise omitted some key details, including when its ride-hailing service will be available and how many of the vehicles will be in its fleet. The company indicated it will initially only be available in San Francisco, where Cruise has already been offering a ride-hailing service that’s only available to its roughly 1,000 employees.By eliminating the need for a human to drive, Cruise theoretically will be able to offer a less expensive way to get around — a goal already being pursued by self-driving car pioneer Waymo, a Google spinoff that has been testing robotaxis in the Phoenix area for nearly three years.Cruise had planned to have a robotaxi service consisting of Chevrolet Bolts working without human backup drivers by the end of 2019, but moved away from that last year after one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles ran down and killed a pedestrian in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Arizona, during 2018.Still aware of the fallout from that deadly c...

US home sales soared 3.6 pct in December

A sold sign is posted on a real estate sign outside a home in Derry, NH. (Photo: AP)US home sales climbed 3.6% in December, but a record-low inventory of houses on the market has caused prices to surge as affordability is worsening.The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales of existing homes rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million. For all of 2019, 5.34 million homes were sold — matching the 2018 level. High mortgage rates hurt sales in the first half of the last year, while lower rates boosted purchases in the second half.But the rebound in sales failed to cause more people to put their homes on the market. Sales listings have tumbled 8.5% from a year ago to 1.4 million properties. There are just 3 months’ supply of single-family houses for sale, the lowest level since the Realtors began tracking the number in 1982. Inventories have fallen at all price levels below $1 million for the past year.The median sales price has jumped 7.8% over the past year to $274,500. Home values have increased at more than double the pace of wage growth, making it harder for would-be buyers to save enough money for a down payment.In December, sales rose in the Northeast, South and West. But sales fell in the Midwest, which is generally a more affordable market.

Judge orders Microsoft to release tax records in IRS dispute

Aman walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco in 2015. (File photo: AP)A federal judge says it’s likely that Microsoft was trying to avoid or evade paying US taxes and is ordering the company to hand over financial documents from more than a decade ago.The Internal Revenue Service has been seeking the documents as part of a long-running investigation into how Microsoft structured a Puerto Rico manufacturing facility starting in 2005. The IRS has said Microsoft hired accounting firm KPMG to set up a cost-sharing arrangement with the Puerto Rican affiliate that shifted taxable revenue out of the US.A ruling Friday by US District Judge Ricardo Martinez says the court “finds itself unable to escape the conclusion that a significant purpose, if not the sole purpose, of Microsoft’s transactions was to avoid or evade federal income tax.”The Seattle judge gave Microsoft about a week to hand over documents that the IRS has been seeking for several years. The Redmond, Washington tech company has objected to disclosing the 174 documents, saying US law protects confidential communications with tax professionals.In a statement, Microsoft said the judge’s ruling was based on “limited information” and that it had “no bearing on the validity of Microsoft’s historical tax arrangements.”

Long-term tech rivalry expected despite phase one deal

Despite the signing of the phase one trade deal, US pressure on Chinese technology companies including Huawei has not lifted. The US Commerce Department sent regulations to the Office of Management and Budget that would restrict US companies sales to Huawei from their overseas facilities, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the matter.(Photo: Xinhua)The US has repeatedly pushed European countries including the UK and Germany not to adopt Huawei devices in 5G construction. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is a multilateral platform, not an ideal channel to communicate technology competition between China and the US. Nevertheless, the forum will discuss a series of major issues, including technology ones - proposing a fourth industrial revolution that can benefit all humanity.The phase one trade deal offers limited alleviation of the technology rivalry between China and the US. Tension in the technology field shows the US intent to stifle China strategically before it can undermine the US dominant position in technology. The conflict between the two countries in the technology field reveals a strategic competition of national strength and may deepen further.The US is blockading Huawei and even extending its jurisdiction to companies outside its territory. The Trump administration has reportedly pressured the Netherlands to cancel semiconductor lithography machine sales to China. The US banned Huawei from buying products made from 25 percent or more of US-originated technologies. Now the ratio may drop to 10 percent to stop Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company from supplying Huawei. It is clear that the US wants to have its say on tech-related trade even if there is only a tiny US involvement. If the US blockade on the Chinese company continues, the current positive atmosphere will s...

European stocks hit by Trump tariff threat

File photoEuropean stocks were hit Wednesday after US President Donald Trump threatened to slap auto tariffs on EU-built cars if a long-delayed trade deal failed to come through.London, Frankfurt and Paris stocks were down in afternoon trading after Trump said he would order a 25% levy on European cars if the EU did not agree to a trade deal.Analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage said the region "appears to be a bit cautious ... turning its sights on the possibility of a showdown between Europe and the US."Shares in carmakers Volkswagen slid by 1.0 percent and Daimler lost 1.2 percent, with Mercedes-maker Daimler also warning that its 2019 earnings could fall short of expectations due to massive new charges over diesel emissions cheating.Before Trump launched his latest trade threats, Frankfurts benchmark DAX 30 index had shot to a record high at 13,640.06 points, with dealers hailing the recent China-US trade deal."German companies are among the most exposed to global trade worries, and therefore those enjoying the biggest bounce since US-China relations improved at the back end of last year, resulting in this months trade deal," said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.Meanwhile, Asian markets bounced back on bargain-buying following sharp losses on Tuesday that were triggered by fears over the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and US markets also rebounded at the start of trading."Fears of the spreading coronavirus appear to be easing a bit after China said it is taking steps to contain the virus," the Schwab analysts said.Global equities have been roiled this week by fears that the Chinese virus outbreak which has killed nine and sickened hundreds, could cause as much economic damage as the SARS epidemic that left hundreds dead in 2003.Tourism-linked firms hit by concerns about the impact on the global economy just as it shows signs of emerging from a long-running slowdown, also went into reverse.The World Health Organization wa...

Tesla market value tops $100 bn, triggering payout for Musk

File photoTesla shares hit $100 billion for the first time Wednesday, triggering a payout plan that could be worth billions for Elon Musk, founder and chief of the electric carmaker.Shares in Tesla rose some 4.8 percent in opening trade to extend the gains in the value of the fast-growing maker of electric vehicles.Under a compensation plan approved by Telsas board in 2018, Musk is to be paid in stock awards based on the value of the company, which could be worth as much as $50 billion if Tesla reaches $650 billion. He agreed to the plan, which would pay him nothing until Teslas value reached $100 billion.

Automaker Daimler sees full-year earnings sag by half

In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 file photo the logo of Daimler is photographed on a car in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. (File photo: AP)Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, saw its operating earnings fall by half in 2019 as its flagship luxury brand saw weaker profits in a tougher global auto market and as its vans division lost money.The Stuttgart-based company said in a statement that operating earnings fell to 5.6 billion euros ($6.2 billion) for all of 2019 from 11.1 billion euros in 2018.The company said it would be hit with 1.1 billion euros to 1.5 billion euros in charges for regulatory and legal issues related to its diesel models.Profit at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, a pillar of the company’s earnings, fell to 3.7 billion euros from 7.2 billion euros. But the return on sales - a key measure of how profitable the company’s cars are - fell by less, to 7.2% from 7.8%.Global automakers have faced pressure from slowing sales in key markets, particularly Chinas, the world’s largest car market. Meanwhile, companies are under pressure to invest billions in electric cars to meet regulatory demands in the European Union and China even though electrics remain a low single-digit share of the market.The company’s truck division, which includes Portland, Oregon-based Freightliner and Thomas Built school buses, saw a smaller decrease to 2.5 billion euros from 2.8 billion.Operating earnings exclude financial items such as interest and tax and thus present a less complete picture of the bottom line than does net profit. But investors and analysts often focus on operating earnings as a clearer picture of how the company’s core business is faring. The company releases full figures Feb. 11.

3M China says it will maintain mask production during Spring Festival

Facial masks sell out in China as new virus spreads (Photo: Yicai)American health care company 3Ms Shanghai factory has been busy with production recently due to the rapid spike in demand for masks in China due to the novel coronavirus that recently appeared in Wuhan.3M is popular in China for anti-pollution masks. As the novel coronavirus spreads, 3M sold out of masks on its official online stores on e-commerce platforms Taobao and JD.com as of Wednesday afternoon.Mask prices also went up from three yuan to as much as 40 yuan (seven U.S. dollars) each.A staff member from the 3M Shanghai factory told Chinas business media Yicai that the factory is out of stock, and they are "working overtime to produce mask products.""Some workers will return to their hometown on Spring Festival, and some will stay in the factory to work," said the staff member. "The factorys production will not stop (during Spring Festival)."

Canadian law central to Huawei CFO case

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou exits her vehicle as she arrives for her court appearance on the first day of her extradition hearing in Vancouver, Canada, on Monday. (Photo: AFP)The extradition hearing of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will hinge on the legal issue of double criminality, meaning the United States allegations could be dismissed if they are not considered a crime in Canada, but if they are, she could be extradited to the US, according to experts.The formal phase of Mengs extradition hearing started on Monday at British Columbia Supreme Court. The fraud charges Meng faces from US prosecutors involve Huawei Technologies Co allegedly using a subsidiary to sell telecom equipment in Iran despite US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec 1,2018, at the behest of US authorities.Her defense team and lawyers for Canadas attorney general will debate the double criminality question before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes.Mengs legal team, led by veteran lawyer Richard Peck, has argued that she should not be extradited because the charges, such as engaging in fraud to evade US sanctions on Iran, could not be considered crimes under Canadian law, and that it is not illegal in Canada to do business with Iran, because Canada lifted its sanctions against Iran four years ago.Yves Tiberghien, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, said that in any case, it will be a long time from the proceedings to any extradition, if it happens at all."If the judge finds no dual criminality conditions, it could end the trial. If there is dual criminality found by the judge, then the trial will proceed but will take a long time, two years, maybe," Tiberghien told China Daily."After that, there could be an appeal to the Court of Final Appeals, then to the Supreme Court, then a decision of the minister (of just...

Hong Kong stocks close 1.27 pct higher

HONG KONG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) - Hong Kong stocks closed up 355.71 points, or 1.27 percent, to 28,341.04 points on Wednesday.(File photo)The benchmark Hang Seng Index traded between 27,937.68 and 28,393.93. Turnover totaled 101.49 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 13.06 billion US dollars).

Hong Kong stocks close 1.27 pct higher

HONG KONG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong stocks closed up 355.71 points, or 1.27 percent, to 28,341.04 points on Wednesday.The benchmark Hang Seng Index traded between 27,937.68 and 28,393.93. Turnover totaled 101.49 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 13.06 billion U.S. dollars).

Coronavirus fears infect global markets

Asian stock markets slumped Tuesday as a mysterious pneumonia taking hold in China spooked investors, while sentiment also suffered a knock froma credit-ratings downgrade to major financial hub Hong Kong.Staff members take passengers body temperature at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, capital of central Chinas Hubei Province, January 21, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)Most European and U.S. markets followed Asia lower after Hong Kong slumped by 2.8 percent by the close and Shanghai ended with a loss of 1.4 percent.Moodys has lowered its credit rating on Hong Kong, which has likely fallen into recession owing to the unrest as well as the China-U.S. trade war.AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould attributed the weakness in stock markets in Asia and beyond to "Reports the deadly virus has spread to neighboring countries, with all the potential economic disruption that could cause."Analysts also cited a muted forecast from the International Monetary Fund, which cut the global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in a prior report released in October, noting an improvement in the U.S.-China trade picture but pointing to weakness in India.The new coronavirus strain has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.Asian countries on Tuesday ramped up measures to block the spread of the new virus as the death toll in China rose to nine, whileU.S. authorities confirmed the first case on American soil."The cost to the global economy can be quite staggering in negative GDP terms if this outbreak reaches epidemic proportions," said AxiCorp analyst Stephen Innes in a note.Innes added that should "things turn critical it could provide a massive blow to the airline industry and a knockout punch to local tourism."Tourism shares hitTourism-linked shares plunged in Hong Kong,...

Chinese shares mixed at midday Wednesday

File photo: VCGBEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinas major stock indices ended mixed in the morning session Wednesday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ending 0.23 percent lower at 3,045.03 points.The Shenzhen Component Index gained 0.3 percent to end at 10,986.51 at midday.

Chinese shares open lower Wednesday

File photoBEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese stocks opened lower on Wednesday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index down 0.08 percent to open at 2,980.43 points.The Shenzhen Component Index opened 0.12 percent lower at 10,176.72 points.

Dollar changes hands in upper 109 yen range in early trade in Tokyo

File photo: CGTNTOKYO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. dollar changed hands in the upper 109 yen range in early deals in Tokyo on Wednesday, largely in line with its levels in New York overnight.As markets opened here, the dollar was quoted at 109.91-92 yen, compared with 109.82-92 yen in New York and 109.97-98 yen at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Tokyo.The euro, meanwhile, fetched 1.1085-1085 dollars and 121.84-85 yen against 1.1077-1087 dollars and 121.70-80 yen in New York, and 1.1092-1093 dollars and 121.98-122.02 yen in late Tuesday afternoon trade in Tokyo.

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