КУПУЙ

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources. A project at the University of Michigan is aimed at making our water cleaner and our agriculture more sustainable by capturing one of those sources … rather than flushing it down the toilet. Faith Lapidus explains.

After two weeks of bruising negotiations, officials from almost 200 countries agreed Saturday on universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming. Fierce disagreements on two other climate issues were kicked down the road for a year to help bridge a chasm of opinions on the best solutions. 

 

The deal agreed upon at U.N. climate talks in Poland enables countries to put into action the principles in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

 

“Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together,” said Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the talks. 

 

He said while each individual country would likely find some parts of the agreement it didn’t like, efforts had been made to balance the interests of all parties. 

 

“We will all have to give in order to gain,” he said. “We will all have to be courageous to look into the future and make yet another step for the sake of humanity.” 

 

The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of growing concern among scientists that global warming on Earth is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it. Last month, a study found that global warming will worsen disasters such as the deadly California wildfires and the powerful hurricanes that have hit the United States this year. 

Overhaul of global economy

 

And a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, concluded that while it’s possible to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times, this would require a dramatic overhaul of the global economy, including a shift away from fossil fuels. 

 

Alarmed by efforts to include this in the final text of the meeting, oil-exporting nations the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked an endorsement of the IPCC report midway through this month’s talks in Katowice. That prompted an uproar from vulnerable countries like small island nations and environmental groups.  

The final text at the U.N. talks omits a previous reference to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and merely welcomes the “timely completion” of the IPCC report, not its conclusions. 

 

Last-minute snags forced negotiators in Katowice to go into extra time, after Friday’s scheduled end of the conference had passed without a deal. 

 

One major sticking point was how to create a functioning market in carbon credits. Economists believe that an international trading system could be an effective way to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming. 

 

But Brazil wanted to keep the piles of carbon credits it had amassed under an old system that developed countries say wasn’t credible or transparent. 

Push from U.S. 

 

Among those that pushed back hardest was the United States, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and promote the use of coal. 

 

“Overall, the U.S. role here has been somewhat schizophrenic — pushing coal and dissing science on the one hand, but also working hard in the room for strong transparency rules,” said Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a Washington think tank. 

 

When it came to closing potential loopholes that could allow countries to dodge their commitments to cut emissions, “the U.S. pushed harder than nearly anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it’s largely succeeded.”  

“Transparency is vital to U.S. interests,” added Nathaniel Keohane, a climate policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund. He noted that the breakthrough in the 2015 Paris talks happened only after the U.S. and China agreed on a common framework for transparency. 

 

“In Katowice, the U.S. negotiators have played a central role in the talks, helping to broker an outcome that is true to the Paris vision of a common transparency framework for all countries that also provides flexibility for those that need it,” said Keohane, calling the agreement “a vital step forward in realizing the promise of the Paris accord.” 

 

Among the key achievements in Katowice was an agreement on how countries should report their greenhouses gas emissions and the efforts they’re taking to reduce them. Poor countries also secured assurances on getting financial support to help them cut emissions, adapt to inevitable changes such as sea level rises and pay for damages that have already happened. 

Some not hearing alarms

 

“The majority of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement has been created, which is something to be thankful for,” said Mohamed Adow, a climate policy expert at Christian Aid. “But the fact countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line shows that some nations have not woken up to the urgent call of the IPCC report” on the dire consequences of global warming. 

 

But a central feature of the Paris Agreement — the idea that countries will ratchet up their efforts to fight global warming over time — still needs to be proved effective, he said. 

 

“To bend the emissions curve, we now need all countries to deliver these revised plans at the special U.N. secretary-general summit in 2019. It’s vital that they do so,” Adow said. 

 

In the end, a decision on the mechanics of an emissions trading system was postponed to next year’s meeting. Countries also agreed to consider the issue of raising ambitions at a U.N. summit in New York next September. 

 

Speaking hours before the final gavel, Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna suggested there was no alternative to such meetings if countries want to tackle global problems, especially at a time when multilateral diplomacy is under pressure from nationalism. 

 

“The world has changed, the political landscape has changed,” she told The Associated Press. “Still, you’re seeing here that we’re able to make progress, we’re able to discuss the issues, we’re able to come to solutions.”  

Facebook says a software flaw may have exposed private photos of nearly 7 million users, the latest in a series of privacy issues facing the social media company.

Facebook said Friday that the photo glitch gave about 1,500 software apps unauthorized access to private photos for 12 days in September. 

“We’re sorry this happened,” Facebook said in a blog. It said it would notify users whose photos might have been affected.

Irish regulator  to investigate

The software flaw affected users who gave third-party applications permission to access their photos. Facebook usually allows the apps to access only photos shared on a user’s timeline. However, the glitch would have allowed the apps to see additional photos, including those on Marketplace and Facebook Stories, as well as ones uploaded but not shared. 

It is not known whether any of the photos were actually accessed. 

The lead regulator of Facebook in the European Union, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), said it was investigating the situation to determine whether the company complied with strict new EU privacy rules.

While Facebook says the bug has been fixed, the revelation brought new scrutiny to a company that has faced a series of security and privacy breaches. 

Earlier issues

Earlier this year, Facebook acknowledged that a political consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica, gained access to the personal data from millions of user profiles. 

In September, the company said it discovered a security breach affecting about 50 million user accounts that could have allowed hackers to access the accounts. The company said hackers exploited the “View As” feature, which lets users see how their own profiles would look to other people. 

Facebook has also come under criticism for fake political ads posted on its site from Russia and other countries. 

The company has more than 2 billion users worldwide.

Stocks staggered to eight-month lows Friday after weak economic data from China and Europe set off more worries about the global economy. Mounting tensions in Europe over Britain’s impeding departure from the European Union also darkened traders’ moods.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as much as 563 points. On the benchmark S&P 500 index, health care and technology companies absorbed the worst losses. Johnson & Johnson plunged by the most in 16 years after Reuters reported that the company has known since the 1970s that its talc Baby Powder sometimes contained carcinogenic asbestos. The company denied the report.

China said industrial output and retail sales both slowed in November. That could be another sign that China’s trade dispute with the U.S. and tighter lending conditions are chilling its economy, which is the second-largest in the world. Meanwhile, purchasing managers in Europe signaled that economic growth was slipping.

Running out of steam?

Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said investors are concerned that weakness will make it way to the U.S. They’re wondering if the U.S. economy is likely to run out of steam sooner than they had thought.

“Market consensus has been that the next recession is probably in 2020 or beyond,” he said. Now, he said, the market is “really testing that assumption and trying to figure out whether it’s sooner.”

The S&P 500 index lost 50.59 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,599.95, its lowest close since April 2. The Dow retreated 496.87 points, or 2 percent, to 24,100.51.

The Nasdaq composite slid 159.67 points, or 2.3 percent, to 6,910.66. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 21.89 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,410.81.

December is typically the best month of the year for stocks and Wall Street usually looks forward to a “Santa Claus rally” that adds to the year’s gains. With 10 trading days left this month, however, the S&P 500 is down 5.8 percent. That followed a small gain in November and a steep 6.9 percent drop in October. 

Market value falls

Johnson & Johnson dropped 10 percent to $133 in very heavy trading. Its market value fell by $40 billion.

Reuters reported that court documents and test results show Johnson & Johnson has known for decades that its raw talc and finished Baby Powder sometimes contained asbestos, but that the company didn’t inform regulators or the public. The company called the story “false and inflammatory.”

In July the company lost a lawsuit from plaintiffs who argued that its products were linked to cases of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. A St. Louis jury awarded plaintiffs $4.7 billion. Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of other lawsuits. 

For more than 20 years, China has been one of the biggest contributors to growth in the global economy, and when investors see signs the Chinese economy is weakening, they expect it will affect other countries like the U.S. that sell things to China. 

Protests hurt France

In Europe, the index of purchase managers fell in France, which is racked by protests, to a level that points toward economic contraction. Germany’s reading still pointed to growth, but it fell to its lowest level in four years.

Those reports canceled out some potential good news on trade: the Chinese government announced a 90-day suspension of tariff increases on U.S. cars, trucks and auto imports. It’s part of a cease-fire that China and the U.S. announced earlier this month to give them time to work on other issues.

Among technology companies, Apple dipped 3.2 percent to $165.48. Adobe skidded 7.3 percent to $230 after its fourth-quarter profit disappointed investors and it also forecast lower-than-expected earnings in the current fiscal year. Industrial companies sank as well. Boeing lost 2.1 percent to $318.75.

Oil prices again turned lower, as a slower global economy would weaken demand for oil and other fuels. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 2.6 percent to $51.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 1.9 percent to settle at $60.28 a barrel in London.

European Union leaders rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request to make changes to their deal covering Britain’s departure from the EU on March 29. British legislators aren’t satisfied with the terms May negotiated, and she canceled a scheduled vote earlier this week because it was clear Parliament wouldn’t approve it. Britain’s economy and financial markets across Europe face severe disruption without an agreement.

European bonds slide

European bond prices rose and yields fell. Both the British pound and the euro weakened. The pound slipped to $1.2579 from $1.2660 and the euro fell to $1.1303 from $1.1367.

Germany’s DAX declined 0.5 percent and the CAC 40 in France declined 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slid 2 percent and the Kospi in South Korea lost 1.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.6 percent. 

Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.89 percent 2.90 percent.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline lost 3 percent to $1.43 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.7 percent to $1.85 a gallon and natural gas dropped 7.2 percent to $3.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell 0.5 percent to $1,241.40 an ounce. Silver dipped 1.5 percent to $14.64 an ounce. Copper was little changed at $2.77 a pound.

The dollar fell to 113.29 yen from 113.60 yen.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said the country’s economy was in “bad shape,” the governor of a northwestern state told reporters Friday after a meeting with governors from across the country. 

Buhari will seek a second term in an election to be held in February in which the economy is likely to be a campaign issue. 

Africa’s top oil producer last year emerged from its first recession in 25 years, caused by low crude prices, but growth remains sluggish. 

“Mr. President, as usual, responded by telling us that the economy is in a bad shape and we have to come together and think and rethink on the way forward,” Abdulaziz Yari, who chairs the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, told reporters when asked how Buhari answered requests for a bailout to some states. 

“Mr. President talked to us in the manner that we have a task ahead of us. So, we should tighten our belts and see how we can put the Nigerian economy in the right direction,” said Yari, governor of Zamfara state. He spoke to journalists in the capital, Abuja. 

The main opposition candidate, businessman and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has criticized Buhari’s handling of the economy and said that, if elected, he would aim to double the size of the economy to $900 billion by 2025. 

Nigeria’s economy grew by 1.81 percent in the third quarter of this year, the statistics office said Monday. And on Friday, it said consumer prices had risen 11.28 percent in November compared with a year ago. 

The federal budget deficit surged to a record for the month of November of $204.9 billion, but a big part of the increase reflected a calendar quirk. 

 

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit for November was $66.4 billion higher than the imbalance in November 2017. 

 

But $44 billion of that figure reflected the fact that December benefits in many government entitlement programs were paid in November this year because Dec. 1 fell on a Saturday. 

 

For the first two months of this budget year, the deficit totals $305.4 billion, up 51.4 percent from the same period last year. The Trump administration is projecting that this year’s deficit will top $1 trillion, reflecting increased government spending and the loss of revenue from a big tax cut. 

 

The new report showed that the higher tariffs from President Donald Trump’s get-tough trade policies are showing up in the budget totals. Customs duties totaled $6 billion in November, up 99 percent from November 2017. 

 

Trump has imposed penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from a number of countries and on $250 billion of Chinese imports as the administration seeks to apply pressure to other countries to reduce their barriers to American exports. However, China and other nations have retaliated by imposing penalty tariffs on U.S. exports, sparking a tit-for-tat trade war. 

 

The administration still believes it will prevail and is currently in talks with China over trade practices the administration feels are unfair to American companies and workers. 

Three years of $1 trillion deficits

 

Last year’s budget deficit totaled $779 billion. The administration is projecting that this year’s deficit, for a budget year that runs from October through September, will total $1.09 trillion. The administration sees the deficit remaining above $1 trillion for three straight years. 

 

The only time the government has run deficits of this size was for four years from 2009 through 2012 when the Obama administration was boosting spending to grapple with the 2008 financial crisis and the worst recession since the 1930s. 

 

Trump has said that the new budget he will unveil next February will require 5 percent spending cuts for domestic agencies in a bid to trim future deficits. The administration is also counting on government revenues to be increased by faster economic growth from the $1.5 trillion tax cut passed a year ago. 

 

The $204.9 billion deficit last month was the biggest deficit ever recorded in November, a month when the government normally runs a deficit. Outlays were also a record in the month of November. 

 

Through the first two months of this budget year, revenues total $458.7 billion, 3.4 percent higher than the same period a year ago. Outlays totaled $764 billion, up 18.4 percent from the same period a year ago.  

A gauge of world equities was little changed after giving up early gains on Thursday, continuing a pattern seen for the past several sessions, while the euro eased after the European Central Bank formally ended its bond purchasing scheme.

In the United States, the S&P and Nasdaq finished in the red while the Dow closed well off its session highs as cautious trade optimism faded.

Nervousness has heightened volatility in stocks recently, with a tendency for stocks to lose morning gains as the day wears on. 

In Beijing, a commerce ministry spokesman said China and the United States were in close contact over trade, and any U.S. trade delegation would be welcome to visit.  

Although signs of a trade thaw have been welcomed by investors, other worries have kept stocks from sustaining gains.

“It’s a market that’s been very nervous. Investors get excited in the morning and then their fears come back,” said Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer of equities at Charles Schwab Investment Management in San Francisco. 

“We need a catalyst to get us a more consistent trend — it could be good economic data or more clarity on the Fed’s intentions for next year or more certainty in U.S.-China. I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.”

Dow Jones rises while S&P 500 dips

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70.11 points, or 0.29 percent, to 24,597.38, the S&P 500 lost 0.53 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,650.54 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.98 points, or 0.39 percent, to 7,070.33.

U.S. economic data showed jobless claims fell last week to near 49-year lows, while import prices dropped as the cost of petroleum products tumbled. Shares in Europe edged lower to snap a two-session winning streak, as concerns about Britain’s exit from the European Union and euro zone growth outweighed a budget compromise in Italy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.17 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05 percent.

Help from ECB to continue

Britain’s weakened prime minister, Theresa May, survived a late night no-confidence vote, and then said she did not expect a quick breakthrough in Brexit talks that would help get the deal through parliament. 

The ECB officially ended its post-crisis asset purchase program but promised to keep feeding stimulus into an economy struggling with an unexpected slowdown and political turmoil.

The euro and sterling were choppy on the Brexit uncertainty and in the wake of comments from ECB President Mario Draghi investors viewed as dovish following the policy announcement.

Dollar index slightly up 

The dollar index rose 0.02 percent, with the euro down 0.04 percent to $1.1363.

Sterling, rebounding from earlier declines, was last trading at $1.2662, up 0.26 percent on the day.

Oil prices were higher after data showed inventory declines in the United States and as investors began to expect the global oil market could have a deficit sooner than previously thought.

U.S. crude settled up 2.8 percent at $52.58 per barrel and Brent was last at $61.45, up 2.16 percent.

 

  

  

Європейський інвестиційний банк та Європейський банк реконструкції та розвитку виділяють 176 мільйонів євро на новий проект з покращення безпеки руху в Україні, повідомив голова представництва Європейського інвестиційного банку в Україні Жан-Ерік де Загон, передає прес-служба Міністерства інфраструктури.

«Для ЄІБ це флагманський проект у регіоні, адже за обсягом інвестицій він найбільший – 176 мільйонів євро. З них Європейський інвестиційний банк виділяє 75 мільйонів євро, решта коштів надійдуть від нашого партнера ЄБРР. Проект буде реалізований у Києві, Львові, Одесі, Харкові та Дніпрі – саме ці міста були обраними серед перших на підставі статистки ДТП і готовності інвестувати у покращення безпеки дорожнього руху», – зазначив Жан-Ерік де Загон.

За даними Міністерства охорони здоров’я України, наведеними у листопаді, на українських дорогах щодня гине вісім людей. За дев’ять місяців від початку 2018 року, за даними поліції, загинули 2266 людей.

В Україні почали експлуатувати локомотиви «Тризуб», виготовлені американською компанією General Electric, повідомляє прес-служба уряду.

Локомотив вирушив за маршрутом Мелітополь (Запорізька область) – Волноваха – Маріуполь (Донецька область) і повіз 3,8 тисячі тонн залізної руди на підприємства Донецької області. Відповідно до плану, до кінця першого кварталу 2019 року таких локомотивів на залізничних лініях буде 30. Вони працюватимуть на мелітопольському, миколаївському та маріупольському напрямках.

«Треба тепер нарощувати обсяги. Треба зробити все, аби наша економіка, підприємства, які орієнтовані на експорт, були забезпечені якісною логістикою та інфраструктурою. Нові тепловози в напрямку до Маріуполя забезпечать регіон можливостями доставляти свою продукцію до портів та споживачів», – сказав прем’єр-міністр України Володимир Гройсман.

23 лютого «Укрзалізниця» й американська корпорація General Electric підписали договір про модернізацію українського локомотивного парку та поставку нових локомотивів. Президент України Петро Порошенко, який був присутній на церемонії підписання документа, зазначив, що сума угоди – 1 мільярд доларів.

Перший тепловоз прибув до України у вересні.

В Адміністрації президента заявили, що General Electric планує виробити понад 200 нових локомотивів для української залізниці, співпраця розрахована на 15 років.

Перший транш Міжнародного валютного фонду за програмою stand-by становитиме від 1,4 до 1,8 мільярда доларів, повідомив голова Національного банку України Яків Смолій.

Він зазначив, що остаточна сума буде відома після засідання ради директорів МВФ, яке заплановане на 18 грудня.

«Ми очікуємо позитивного рішення за програмою stand-by на зміну чинній сьогодні програмі розширеного фінансування і очікуємо, що черговий транш надійде після прийняття рішення, тобто до Різдва», – сказав Смолій.

У жовтні Міжнародний валютний фонд на рівні уповноваженого персоналу погодив з українською владою нову програму резервної підтримки замість чинної програми розширеного фінансування.

Обсяг нової програми – 3,9 мільярда доларів. Згідно з повідомленням, вона має стати основою для економічної політики уряду в 2019 році – передбачається, що ця політика буде зосереджена на зниженні інфляції та реформах оподаткування, фінансового і енергетичного секторів.

Визначення stand-by означає, що Україна отримує гарантію на цю суму і може за потреби отримати її повністю або частково протягом терміну дії угоди та за умови дотримання її положень. Після закінчення терміну дії угоди невикористаний залишок кредиту повертається фонду.

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city.

Virgin Galactic is preparing for a new flight test Thursday that aims to fly higher and faster than before toward the edge of space.

The U.S. company run by British tycoon Richard Branson is aiming to be the first to take tourists on brief trips into microgravity.

Virgin Galactic’s fourth flight test on the VSS Unity is scheduled for Thursday, weather permitting.

The flight will take off from a spaceport in Mojave, California.

The vessel does not launch from Earth but is carried to a higher altitude — about nine miles (15 kilometers) high — attached to an airplane.

Then, two pilots on the VSS Unity fire the engines toward the frontier of space, typically defined as an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers).

In July, after burning the rocket motor for 42 seconds, the VSS Unity reached a height of 32 miles, a part of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

Commercial airplanes typically fly at an altitude of about six miles.

The VSS Unity reached a top speed of over 1,530 miles per hour, or beyond Mach 2.

“Overall the goal of this flight is to fly higher and faster than previous flights,” said a statement from Virgin Galactic.

“If all goes to plan our pilots will experience an extended period of microgravity as VSS Unity coasts to apogee, although — being pilots — they will remain securely strapped in throughout.”

Another U.S. rocket company, Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is also racing to be the first to send tourists to space, but using a small rocket to get there.

Virgin’s first flight date has been pushed back multiple times, following a test flight accident that killed a co-pilot in 2014.

Branson told CNN in November he hoped to send people to space “before Christmas.”

More than 600 clients have already paid $250,000 for a ticket.

Wall Street stocks finished higher on Wednesday due to improved hopes for the US-China trade talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6 percent at 24,527.27.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.5 percent to 2,651.07, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.0 percent to 7,098.31.

Wall Street stocks have been volatile in recent weeks in part due to unpredictable and ambiguous events connected to the Beijing-Washington trade negotiations.

The latest indicators have been more upbeat, with a Chinese Huawei executive granted bail in a Canadian court in a closely-watched legal case and confirmation from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a television interview that Beijing had offered to cut tariffs on autos imported from the United States and resume soybean purchases.

Unlike the last two sessions, there were no major gyrations lower on Wednesday. But stocks still finished well below their session highs, with the Dow falling about 300 points from its peak in the last three hours of trading.

Gainers included some equities that have been seen as vulnerable to a trade war with China. Boeing advanced 1.5 percent, Caterpillar 1.7 percent and Deere 0.8 percent.

Tech shares were also upward-bound, with Google parent Alphabet winning 1.1 percent, Amazon 1.2 percent and Netflix 3.6 percent.

Tencent Music, in its first session after going public, jumped 7.7 percent a day after the music streaming company raised $1.1 billion in an initial public offering.

California regulators are considering a plan to charge a fee for text messaging on mobile phones to help support programs that make phone service accessible to the poor.

The Mercury News reports Wednesday that the proposal is scheduled for a vote next month by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The wireless industry and business groups have been working to defeat the plan.

Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored advocacy group, says it would essentially put a tax on conversations.

The newspaper says it’s unclear how much money individual consumers would be asked to pay their wireless carrier for texting services under the proposal. But it likely would be billed as a flat surcharge — not a fee per text.

Sports, disaster and death were among the top searches on Google last year.

Each December, the technology company releases it’s top trending searches of the year. Topics that drew the interest of Americans included the World Cup, Hurricane Florence and three people who died in 2018 — rapper Mac Miller, designer Kate Spade and TV host and author Anthony Bourdain.

Google does not come up with its lists based on the number of total searches. Instead, the company looks at the search terms that enjoyed the highest spike compared to the previous year.

“Black Panther” topped the list of most searched movies, while rising stars in the Democratic party dominated the list of most searched politicians.

Here are the Top 10:

  1. World Cup

  2. Hurricane Florence

  3. Mac Miller

  4. Kate Spade

  5. Anthony Bourdain

  6. Black Panther

  7. Mega Millions Results

  8. Stan Lee

  9. Demi Lovato

  10. Election Results

Other categories include:

News

  1. World Cup

  2. Hurricane Florence

  3. Mega Millions

  4. Election Results

  5. Hurricane Michael

People

  1. Demi Lovato

  2. Meghan Markle

  3. Brett Kavanaugh

  4. Logan Paul

  5. Khloe Kardashian

Politicians

  1. Stacey Abrams

  2. Beto O’Rourke

  3. Ted Cruz

  4. Andrew Gillum

  5. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Movies

  1. Black Panther

  2. Incredibles 2

  3. Deadpool 2

  4. Avengers: Infinity War

  5. A Quiet Place

All of the 2018 Google top trending search lists can be found here.

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