Business Briefs – July 21, 2019

Labor Nominee Scalia Has Long Record of Opposing Regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) – Eugene Scalia has a decades-long record of challenging Labor Department and other federal regulations.

Trump selected Scalia Thursday to be his new labor secretary. If formally nominated and confirmed, he’ll join an administration that has moved aggressively to reverse regulations and work under a president who had repeatedly lauded Scalia’s late father, Justice Antonin Scalia.

China Launches STAR, Tech Stock Market to Boost Industry

BEIJING (AP) – Trading starts Monday on a Chinese stock market for high-tech companies that play a key role in official development plans that are straining relations with Washington.

Regulators have approved 25 companies in information technology and other fields seen by communist leaders as a path to prosperity and global influence for the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s STAR Market.

The market reflects the ruling Communist Party’s desire to channel private capital into its development plans.

Gulf Tanker Incidents May Raise Shippers’ Costs, Cut Traffic

(AP) – Seizures of oil tankers and other hostile Iranian measures in the Strait of Hormuz are already raising insurance rates for shipping companies and could eventually reduce tanker traffic in the vital waterway, with a spike in global oil prices a serious risk even without war.

“If this kind of problem continues, you might see people start to shy away from the (Persian) Gulf or try to reflag — not be a British tanker,” said energy economist Michael Lynch.

The near-term impact will fall most heavily on the shipping industry in the form of higher insurance rates, said Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc.

Appeals Court Upholds Trump Move to Drop Mine Pollution Rule

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A U.S. appeals court panel has sided with the Trump administration, ruling that state and federal programs already in place ensure that mining companies take financial responsibility for future pollution cleanups. The ruling Friday came after the administration was sued by environmental groups for dropping an Obama-era proposal that would have required the companies to prove they have resources to clean up pollution.

Penney: We Haven’t Hired Advisers For In-Court Restructuring

NEW YORK (AP) – J.C. Penney says it hasn’t hired any advisers to prepare for an in-court restructuring or bankruptcy. The company’s statement Friday came after investors were rattled by a report saying the company was hiring experts to help restructure its debt. Reuters reported Thursday that Penney has held discussions with lawyers and investment bankers who work with struggling companies on debt restructurings. Penney’s shares fell nearly 17% on Friday.

American Express 2Q Profits Rise 9%, Beating Expectations

NEW YORK (AP) – American Express posted a 9% gain in second-quarter profits on Friday, helped by more of its cardmembers carrying a credit card balance and increased spending on its namesake cards. The NY company said it earned a profit of $1.76 billion, or $2.07 a share. That’s up from earnings of $1.62 billion, or $1.84 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts were looking for AmEx to earn $2.03 a share, according to FactSet.

Lebanese Losing Faith as Politicians Fumble Over Economy

BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanese media have been blanketed for days with live coverage as lawmakers heatedly debated a controversial austerity budget meant to salvage the country’s flailing economy. Outside parliament, protesters and critics denounced the budget’s focus on tax hikes and wage cuts.