Business Briefs – May 11, 2017

Aetna Drops Last 2 State Markets Under Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON (AP) – While Republicans rewrite the Affordable Care Act in Washington, the future of the current law has grown hazier with the nation’s third-largest health insurer completely divorcing itself from state-based insurance markets. Aetna said late Wednesday that it won’t sell individual coverage next year in its two remaining states — Nebraska and Delaware after projecting a $200 million loss this year. It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for 2018. The insurer once sold the coverage in 15 states, but slashed that to four after losing about $450 million in 2016.

‘Silk Road’ Plan Stirs Unease Over China’s Strategic Goals

BEIJING (AP) – In a mountain valley in Kashmir, plans are underway for Chinese engineers guarded by Pakistani forces to expand the lofty Karakoram Highway in a project that is stirring diplomatic friction with India. The work is part of a sprawling Chinese initiative to build a “new Silk Road” of ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. The Asian Development Bank says the region, home to 60 percent of the world’s people, needs more than $26 trillion of such investment by 2030 to keep economies growing.

Claims for U.S. Unemployment Aid Fall by 2,000 to 236,000

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer Americans sought jobless benefits last week, and the number of people collecting unemployment checks fell to the lowest level since 1988. The Labor Department says initial claims for jobless aid fell by 2,000 to 236,000.

Judge Approves Emissions-Cheating Settlement for 3-Liter VWs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a $1.2 billion settlement with owners of 88,500 Volkswagens with 3-liter diesel engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests. Judge Charles Breyer gave the deal final approval during a hearing Thursday. Depending on the age of their cars, owners will get buybacks or repairs as well as compensation.

President’s New Trade Rep Poised To Take Stern Stance on China

WASHINGTON (AP) – Robert Lighthizer has long complained that the United States dithered in the face of abusive Chinese trade policies, allowing its trade gap with Beijing to explode and American factories to close. Now, the veteran trade lawyer will get a chance to do something about it. The Senate voted 82-14 Thursday to confirm the 69-year-old Lighthizer to serve as U.S. trade representative.