Friday, September 18, 2020 3:35 AM EST
By The Associated Press, AP
Asia mostly higher despite Wall Street slump, virus fears
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher today despite some investor attention shifting again to the uncertainties in global economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, as reflected in the overnight fall on Wall Street.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 0.2% higher. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 1.9%.
While the market took more losses Thursday, the selling eased toward the end of the day. The S&P 500 fell 28.48 points to 3,357.01. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 130.40 points, or 0.5%, to 27,901.98. It had been down 384 points.
The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, slid 140.19 points, or 1.3%, to 10,910.28. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 9.73 points, or 0.6%, to 1,542.60.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CALIFORNIA-WORKERS COMP
Calif requires workers comp for virus infection
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a law that lets more people than almost anywhere else in the country take time off from work to care for a family member without fear of losing their job.
California lets people take off up to 12 weeks from work to care for a family member while still getting paid a portion of their salary. But the law only includes companies with at least 50 employees.
The law Newsom signed Thursday extends those protections to companies with at least five employees. Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows the law is one of the most expansive in the country.
Newsom says the law is more important during the pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOMES
Report: Much needs doing to shield nursing homes from virus
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is claiming “resounding vindication” from an independent commission’s report on the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes. But some panel members are saying that’s a misinterpretation of their conclusion that much remains to be done to safeguard vulnerable residents.
Nursing home residents account for less than 1% of the U.S. population but more than 40% of the coronavirus deaths. That disparity is a sensitive election issue for President Donald Trump.
The nursing home commission made 27 major recommendations. The administration says it’s already acted or made progress on most of them.
US judge blocks Postal Service changes that slowed mail
SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. judge blocked controversial Postal Service changes that have slowed mail nationwide, calling them “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the November election.
Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said Thursday he was issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states that sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service.
The states challenged the Postal Service’s so-called “leave mail behind” policy, where trucks have been leaving postal facilities on time regardless of whether there is more mail to load. They also sought to force the Postal Service to treat election mail as first class mail.
Australia pays $3.7 M to help news agency though pandemic
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government has announced a $3.7 million grant to the national news agency as part of pandemic-related assistance to regional journalism.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says Australian Associated Press is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85-year history, including a strong contribution to regional news.
AAP provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia. AAP Chair Jonty Low and Chief Executive Emma Cowdroy welcomed the funding as an endorsement of the role that AAP plays in providing a key piece of Australia’s democratic infrastructure.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONFLICT AND FAMINE
UN food chief urges rich to help keep millions from starving
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The World Food Program chief warns that millions of people are closer to starvation because of the deadly combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.N. program’s chief David Beasley is urging donor nations and billionaires to help feed them and ensure their survival. He told the U.N. Security Council that the response to his warning five months ago of a potential “hunger pandemic” had averted famine but the work wasn’t done.
Beasley warns that famine is possible in up to three dozen countries and could overwhelm places already weakened by conflict. He cites Congo and Yemen in particular as places where help is needed to keep people from starving.
INDIA-APPLE ONLINE STORE
Apple to launch first online store in India next week
NEW DELHI (AP) — Apple says it will launch its first online store in India next week, as it tries to increase sales in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets.
The company at present uses third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in the country. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that the company “can’t wait to connect with our customers and expand support in India.” The Sept. 23 launch comes ahead of India’s major Hindu festival season beginning next month.
With a nearly 1.4 billion people, including millions of new Internet users every month, India has become a key focus of tech giants over the last few years.