China export data weigh on stocks

NEW YORK — Stocks took small losses Monday after China reported a drop in exports in December, but the market didn't come close to matching the plunges it took in the last few months.

Indexes in Europe and Asia headed slightly lower after the latest report added more evidence that China's economy is weakening. Major U.S. indexes fell about 1 percent at the start of trading, but soon recovered much of what they'd lost. Technology companies slumped.

Drugmakers fell after Democrats in the House of Representatives announced an investigation into prescription drug pricing. A strong quarterly report from Citigroup helped bank stocks trade higher.

China's exports slipped in December, and exports to the U.S. fell 3.5 percent as rising tariffs and broader weakness affected the world's second-largest economy. Concerns about the Chinese economy and the overall global economy were a major contributor to the market's plunge in late 2018.

Mark Esposito, president of Esposito Securities, said the calm reaction to the news from China suggests stocks won't fall further than they did in December.

"That's a very positive sign that, at least in the short term, we may have found a bottom," he said. "People lose faith and hope when (the market) drops 20 percent in a very short period like it did."

Wildfires push utility to bankruptcy

SAN FRANCISCO — Facing potentially colossal liabilities over deadly California wildfires, PG&E will file for bankruptcy protection.

The announcement Monday follows the resignation of the power company's chief executive a day earlier.

PG&E said it's given the required 15-day advance notice that it plans to file for bankruptcy protection. The company has already been blamed by state fire investigators for wildfires that broke out in October 2017.

The utility said it will be able to tap the capital and resources it needs to continue providing service to customers as it restructures.

Waits exceed 1 hour at Atlanta airport

ATLANTA — Screeners are working without pay at the world's busiest airport, where it's taking more than an hour for passengers to get through each of its three checkpoints in the domestic terminal.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta reported the lengthy wait times on its website shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, a busy travel day for business travelers leaving town for the week.

The partial government shutdown, now on day 24, has led to missed paychecks for Transportation Security Administration workers across the nation, and airports are having to make adjustments.

Hartsfield-Jackson is a key gateway for Delta Air Lines, Charleston's largest carrier.

Gannett staked by hedge-fund buyer

DENVER — The publisher of USA Today has received a $1.36 billion takeover bid from a media group with a history of taking over struggling newspapers and slashing costs.

MNG Enterprises, better known as Digital First Media, said in a letter to Gannett Co. Monday that its leadership team has failed to show that it can run the company effectively.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that the hedge-fund backed MNG has built up a 7.5 percent stake in Gannett, and that it has been rebuffed repeatedly by the company about a sale.

Gannett, which owns the Greenville News and the Anderson Independent Mail in South Carolina, said Monday it received the letter, and its board will carefully review the proposal.

The McLean, Virginia-based publisher owns dozens of newspapers including the Record in New Jersey and the Arizona Republic in addition to USA Today.

Digital First plans offered $12 per share for Gannett, nearly a quarter above its closing share price Friday of $9.75. Gannett's shares have rebounded after a rough spell in 2018.

Digital First owns about 200 newspapers and other publications and has a reputation for painful cost-cutting. Its biggest shareholder is Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that mainly invests in distressed companies.

Lower taxes help fuel Citi's profits

NEW YORK — Citigroup said Monday its profits rose in the last three months of 2018, helped by a lower tax rate and lower expenses, which offset a drop in bond trading revenue.

Citi said it earned $4.31 billion in the last three months of 2018, or $1.64 per share. On an adjusted basis, the earnings rose 9 percent. The results beat per-share estimates of $1.55, according to FactSet.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Citi reported an $18.89 billion net loss. The loss was mostly an accounting adjustment, caused by the impact of the then-new tax law which required Citi to write off billions of dollars of what are known as tax-deferred assets.

As expected, Citi had a difficult quarter in its bond trading division. While banks with trading desks typically benefit from volatility, the last three months of 2018 were dominated by extreme market volatility in the stock and bond markets.

Citi's fixed-income trading revenue was $1.9 billion, down 21 percent from a year earlier.

Citi's global consumer banking division had a good but uneventful quarter, reporting an adjusted profit $1.52 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier. The bank saw revenue gains in its U.S. business, which was more than enough to offset declines in its Latin America and Asia businesses.

The bank is the first of the Wall Street giants to report its results for the quarter. 

VW to build electric vehicles at Tennessee plant

DETROIT — German automaker Volkswagen's factory in Tennessee will be the focus of an $800 million investment in its manufacturing of electric vehicles in North America.

Volkswagen said Monday that it will expand its plant in Chattanooga and create 1,000 jobs as the site gears up for electric vehicle production beginning in 2022.

The factory will produce a vehicle using a modular chassis the company has said will help build electric vehicles for the mass market. VW currently builds two vehicles in Chattanooga.

FCA chief says no alliance needed

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler's new CEO says major job cuts or an alliance with other automakers are not in the plans for Italian-American automaker.

Mike Manley says the company downsized its workforce significantly a decade ago, and smaller cuts have been made since. So unlike crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors, he doesn't expect any "big bang event."

Manley took over for the late Sergio Marchionne last year. Three years ago, Marchionne was shopping for a partner and said the industry needed to consolidate to better share huge capital investment costs.

But Manley says FCA is now in a different position and can go it alone. He says the company has the resources and the balance sheet to stand on its own.

Buyout would create top gold miner

DENVER — Newmont Mining will buy Canada's Goldcorp for $10 billion, creating the world's biggest gold miner.

The combined company could log gold production of 6 million to 7 million ounces over a decade and recognize $100 million in annual pre-tax savings.

Miners are consolidating as gold becomes more expensive to procure. Barrick Gold said it would by Randgold for more than $6 billion just four months ago.

Shareholders of Newmont Mining Corp. will own 65 percent of the combined business, with Goldcorp shareholders owning the rest.

The acquisition, expected to close in the second quarter, must still be approved by shareholders as well as regulators in Europe, Canada, South Korea and Mexico.

Atlantic City casino revenue up overall

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Two reopened casinos and half a year of sports betting helped push Atlantic City's casino revenue up 7.5 percent in 2018 to nearly $2.86 million.

Sports betting saw the casinos and two racetracks take in $1.24 billion since the first wagers were taken in June. For the less than six months that sports betting was legal last year, it generated just over $94 million in revenue for casinos and tracks.

But beneath those numbers, statistics released Monday by state gambling regulators show that the addition of the Ocean Resort and Hard Rock casinos sent winnings lower at most other casinos.

Of Atlantic City's seven casinos that operated before the two new additions last year, only the Golden Nugget showed a revenue increase for the year.

Wire reports