Stocks close lower; trade in focus

NEW YORK — Stocks closed broadly lower to kick off the week on Wall Street as the market gives back some of its gains from last week.

Technology and health care stocks accounted for much of the selling. Those losses outweighed gains in companies that rely on consumer spending, among others. The market pullback comes as investors wait for new developments in the trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

Trading was mostly muted as investors looked ahead to a busy week of economic reports and an interest rate policy update from the Federal Reserve.

Wall Street is particularly focused on developments in the trade war ahead of a new round of tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports due to take effect Sunday. That would raise prices on key products, including wireless phones and laptops, and threaten to affect consumers.

A Chinese official said Monday that the nation wants a prompt settlement, but gave no details on progress toward a potential deal. China made a conciliatory gesture last week when it said it would waive tariffs on American soybeans and pork.

Amazon: Trump 'pressure' killed bid

WASHINGTON — Amazon says President Donald Trump's "improper pressure" and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract.

The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing contract to Microsoft in October.

Amazon argues in a lawsuit unsealed Monday the decision should be revisited because of "substantial and pervasive errors" and Trump's interference.

Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos have been a frequent target of Trump, even before he became president. Bezos personally owns the Washington Post, which Trump has referred to as "fake news" whenever unfavorable stories are published about him.

Amazon said it lost the deal due to Trump's "personal vendetta against Mr. Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post." The White House and Pentagon didn't immediately return emailed requests for comment Monday.

AGs push for Atlantic gas pipeline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attorneys general from 18 states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to continue.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office will lead the coalition. A friend of the court brief that was to be filed Monday argues the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals erred when it ruled last December that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the pipeline rights of way across the Appalachian Trail and through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in October that it would hear appeals filed by energy companies that want to build the 605-mile pipeline and by the Trump administration, which initially approved the project.

The pipeline was proposed in 2014 by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and other companies. It would originate in West Virginia and run through parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

South Carolina is not part of the 18-state coalition.

PG&E settlement spurs stock surge

SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E's stock surged Monday after the utility reached a tentative $13.5 billion settlement resolving all major claims related to the Northern California wildfires of 2017 and 2018.

The fires were blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric's outdated equipment and negligence. The utility said Friday that the deal is a key step toward its exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It still needs court approval.

The agreement is expected to resolve all claims arising from a series of 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise. It also resolves claims from the 2015 Butte Fire and Oakland's 2016 Ghost Ship Fire.

PG&E said the proposed settlement is the third it has reached as it works through its Chapter 11 case. The utility previously reached a $1 billion settlement with cities, counties and other public utilities and an $11 billion agreement with insurance companies and other entities that have paid claims relating to the fires.

 

Trucking firm says it's bankrupt

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana trucking company with nearly 4,000 employees said Monday it filed for bankruptcy and will shut down all operations, just days after two former officials were charged in a fraud scheme.

Celadon Group has faced significant costs related to a federal investigation and also must deal with debt and "enormous challenges" in the industry, chief executive Paul Svindland said in a statement.

William Meek, 39, and Bobby Lee Peavler, 40, were indicted on conspiracy and other charges. They knew the value of a substantial portion of Celadon's trucks had declined and that many trucks had serious mechanical issues that made them unattractive to drivers, according to the indictment.

Earlier this year, Celadon agreed to pay $42.2 million to settle securities fraud allegations stemming from falsely reporting profits and assets.

Celadon said it was the largest provider of international truckload services in North America.

"We have diligently explored all possible options to restructure Celadon and keep business operations ongoing. However, a number of legacy and market headwinds made this impossible to achieve," Svindland said.

German exports rise in Oct.

BERLIN — German exports posted a second consecutive month-on-month increase in October, defying expectations of a slight decline.

The Federal Statistical Office said Monday that exports rose 1.2 percent compared with the previous month. That followed a 1.5 percent increase in September.

In year-on-year terms, exports were up 1.9 percent, led by a 4.6% rise in demand from countries outside the European Union. Exports to other EU nations rose only 0.1 percent.

German imports were flat compared with September and down 0.6 percent on the year.

The unexpectedly upbeat exports report followed data last week showing that factory orders and industrial production both declined in October. Germany, which is one of South Carolina's largest trading partners, only narrowly avoided entering a recession in the third quarter.

Wire reports