Asian stocks advance after Wall Street sinks for third day
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are higher as traders look ahead to data on U.S. employment costs that might influence Federal Reserve decisions on planned interest rate hikes.
Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul gained while Hong Kong declined.
Wall Street fell for a third day Thursday after the U.S. government reported the economy grew by 5.7% last year, its strongest annual rate since 1984.
Investors are looking ahead to U.S. data on employment costs for indications of when and by how much the Fed might raise interest rates to cool surging inflation. Investors expect at least four rate hikes this year after Fed officials say stimulus that is boosting stock prices will be wound down sooner than previously planned.
Federal judge throws out oil lease sale in Gulf of Mexico
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal court has rejected a plan to lease millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling, saying the Biden administration did not adequately take into account its effect on greenhouse gas emissions.
The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sends the proposed lease sale back to the Interior Department to decide next steps.
The ruling says it’s up to Interior to decide whether to go forward with the sale after a revised review, scrap it or take other steps.
Environmental groups hail the decision and say the ruling gives President Joe Biden a chance to follow through on a campaign promise to stop offshore leasing in federal waters.
Toyota heading to moon with cruiser, robotic arms, dreams
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota says it’s working with Japan’s space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with ambitions to help people live on the moon by 2040 and eventually live on Mars.
The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called Lunar Cruiser, whose name pays homage to the Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle. Its launch is set for the late 2020’s.
Takao Sato, who heads the Lunar Cruiser project at Toyota, tells The Associated Press the company sees “space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation.” An executive whose company developed a robotic arm for the cruiser says robots come in handy for working in space, which holds dangers for astronauts.
Executive overseeing investments leaves Japan’s SoftBank
TOKYO (AP) — Marcelo Claure, who joined SoftBank Group after turning around one of its key investments, office-sharing business WeWork, is leaving.
Claure was long seen as a close aide to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, forging a partnership spanning nine years and overseeing a sprawling investment portfolio.
Tokyo-based SoftBank Group says in a statement that the departure is “by mutual agreement.” It did not give a reason. Claure’s departure may resurrect speculation about a successor to Son, who founded SoftBank in 1981. Son has made it clear he wants to groom the next generation of leaders at his company, known for daring, and sometimes flop, investments.
Google to invest $1 billion to push India’s digitalization
NEW DELHI (AP) — Google plans to invest up to $1 billion in partnership with India’s Airtel for providing affordable access to smartphones to more than a billion Indians and accelerating the cloud ecosystem for businesses.
The two companies say the investment will especially help India’s small businesses adopt digital tools that can accelerate their transformation with the COVID-19 pandemic lending an urgency in education, payments and retail sectors.
As part of the “Google for India Digitization Fund” launched in 2020, the deal includes an investment of $700 million to acquire 1.28% ownership in Airtel and up to $300 million toward commercial agreements over the next five years.
Germany: Brexit pushed exports to UK down 2.5% last year
BERLIN (AP) — Official figures show that German exports to the U.K. dropped another 2.5% last year, the first full year of Brexit, following a huge decline in 2020 in the first stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that exports from Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, totaled 65.4 billion euros ($73.1 billion) in 2021. It says that the drop — which followed a 15.3% drop in 2020 — was a result of Brexit.
Britain left the European Union’s single market and customs union on Dec. 31, 2020, 11 months after it had formally left the bloc’s political structures.
AirAsia renamed Capital A to show it’s more than an airline
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s AirAsia Group has changed the name of its listed holding company to Capital A to reflect the diversity of its business portfolio as it seeks to grow its non-airline revenue.
Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes says the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the group to accelerate plans to grow beyond the airline business to include logistics, aircraft engineering, venture capital, education and mobile applications for payments, travel and lifestyle. He says the company will become a “one-stop digital travel and lifestyle services group.”
The airline retains the AirAsia brand name. Fernandes says he expects non-airline activities to contribute half of the group’s revenue by 2026.
MUSTANG ROUNDUPS-LEGAL CHALLENGES
US judge may suspend mustang roundup in Nevada; suit pending
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge is considering temporarily suspending the capture of wild horses in Nevada where their advocates say the federal government is “needlessly and recklessly” killing free-roaming mustangs in violation of U.S. laws.
The judge in Reno says she expects to rule by Monday, maybe sooner, on the horse advocates’ request for an emergency court order pending another hearing to learn more about the potential danger of roundup near the Utah state line.
The Bureau of Land Management insists it must gather the mustangs before the end of February. It’s one of several scheduled on an expedited basis across the West as a result of severe drought.
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