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Business Highlights


Negative interest rates turn saving, borrowing upside down

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — These are strange times for borrowers and savers. Interest rates have been low for years and it seems it’s the new normal. In Europe they’ve even gone negative and some bank customers are seeing that in their statements. Denmark’s Jyske bank offers a negative mortgage rate that pays the borrower interest, not the other way around. Meanwhile, some companies in Germany are being told they’ll pay to leave their cash at the bank. It’s just one symptom of long-term malaise plaguing the global economy more than a decade after the financial crisis and the Great Recession.


Facebook’s influencers nod shows murky side of campaign ads

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook’s green light for political campaigns to pay prominent social media users to spread their messages is highlighting the difficulties around setting rules for the fast-changing world of online political campaigning. The company’s rule change comes days after Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg exposed a loophole in Facebook’s political advertising guidelines. He promoted his campaign through popular Instagram personalities followed by millions of younger people, using a tactic that was largely used to sell skin care products or clothing-subscription services. The lack of oversight and clear rules around influencer marketing, along with their effectiveness in reaching younger audiences, makes them ripe for misuse.


With virus, shops in China suffer a star-crossed Valentines

BEIJING (AP) — In virus-stricken China, couples can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a roast beef salad, hot chocolate, a rose and a note, all delivered to their door. The note, scrawled on the front of their sealed order, states the body temperature of the chef who made it. Moka Bros, a health food eatery in Beijing, offered this special on Valentine’s Day after a new form of coronavirus struck central China in December. Like many businesses, the restaurant has struggled to cope with the impact of a disease that has infected more than 64,000 people worldwide and sent several Chinese cities into lockdown. Fearful of infection, people are overwhelmingly choosing to stay home and cook for themselves.


National Black News Channel makes debut

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The nation’s only black news network is on the air. Black News Channel began airing this week, launching with an image of the National Museum of African American History & Culture followed by a recap up of the Oscars. The network is aimed at an audience that’s considered under-served in the media. It follows years of planning for former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, who likened the launch to giving birth to a child. It is also made possible by the backing of billionaire businessman and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.


China’s virus crackdown leaves millions working at home

BEIJING (AP) — China has told employees who can work from home to stay there while the government fights a virus outbreak with the most extreme anti-disease measures ever imposed. That is forcing millions of people, from lone entrepreneurs to employees of global automakers, to connect with customers and coworkers and keep businesses functioning by phone and email. At the same time, many are looking after children who are cooped up at home after schools were closed indefinitely. They are helped by China’s almost universal adoption of internet, smartphones and messaging services.


Michael Avenatti is convicted of trying to extort Nike

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer who gained fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump has been convicted of trying to extort sportswear giant Nike. The verdict against Michael Avenatti was returned Friday by a federal jury in Manhattan. It followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors claimed Avenatti made threats to use his media access to hurt Nike’s reputation and stock price unless the apparel company paid him up to $25 million. Avenatti did not testify, but his lawyers said he was following the wishes of an amateur youth basketball league director who wanted him to force Nike to fire corrupt executives and fix its culture.


United and American push back expected return of Boeing Max

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines won’t use the Boeing 737 Max at all this summer, while American Airlines is still holding out hope for a late August return. United said Friday that it has taken the Max out of its schedule until at least Sept. 4. American followed that by yanking the grounded plane out of its schedule until Aug. 18. Both airlines expect to drop thousands of flights a month as a result. The result could be higher fares during the peak summer travel season. Boeing is taking longer than expected to fix the planes after two crashes killed 346 people.


US stocks post small gains, major indexes up for the week

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks çlosed slightly higher on Wall Street Friday, as technology shares rose along with lower-risk sectors such as utilities. The major stock indexes finished with their second straight weekly gains. Trading was more cautious on Wall Street, following China’s report Thursday of a surge in cases of a new virus that investors feared could crimp global economic growth.


The S&P 500 index rose 6.22 points, or 0.2%, to 3,380.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 25.23 points, or 0.1%, to 29,398.08. The Nasdaq composite gained 19.21 points, or 0.2%, to 9,731.18. The Russell 2000 index slid 6.15 points, or 0.4%, to 1,687.58.

The Associated Press