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Stocks skid as trade tensions flare

NEW YORK — Stocks closed broadly lower on Tuesday as tensions between the U.S. and China flared ahead of negotiations aimed at resolving the costly trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

The sell-off, which accelerated in the last hour of regular trading, knocked more than 300 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Technology companies, banks and health care stocks bore the brunt of the selling, which stretched the market's losses further into a fourth week.

The market slide began after the U.S. blacklisted a group of Chinese companies, claiming that their technology plays a role in the repression of China's Muslim minority groups. The State Department also imposed restrictions on visas for Chinese officials.

The moves cast more doubt on whether Washington and Beijing will find a resolution to their long-running and economically damaging trade conflict. Envoys from the U.S. and China are scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday for another round of trade talks.

"The rhetoric on both sides, whether it's the U.S. putting certain Chinese technology companies on a blacklist, or China vowing to retaliate with a 'stay tuned', it just keeps upping the temperature in the room and creating greater uncertainty for businesses, for consumers and for investors," said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Boeing to invest in Virgin Galactic

LOS ANGELES — Boeing plans to invest $20 million in Virgin Galactic as the space tourism company nears its goal of launching passengers on suborbital flights.

The companies announced the investment Tuesday, saying they will work together on broadening commercial access to space and transforming global travel technologies.

Virgin Galactic has conducted successful test flights of its winged rocket ship at Mojave, California, and is preparing to begin operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Test flights will be conducted there before passenger flights begin.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says the company is projecting commercial flights by mid-2020.

Virgin Galactic announced in July it intends to go public through a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp.

Boeing's investment is in return for shares, so it is contingent on that transaction closing.

Analysts: Strike cost GM 165K cars

DETROIT — Industry analysts say the 23-day strike by General Motors workers has cost the company production of 165,000 cars and trucks and has passed the point where the GM can make up lost volume.

That means losses are growing for GM, even though dealers have enough inventory to get by for several more weeks.

The strike by 49,000 United Auto Workers began Sept. 16.

GM made another offer Monday and talks continued Tuesday but were hung up on large economic issues.

Toys R Us parent in Target web deal

NEW YORK — The parent company of Toys R Us is turning to a rival to restart its e-commerce business ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Tru Kids Brands is teaming up with discounter Target Corp. to relaunch Toysrus.com, according to a joint release.

The site, which launched Tuesday, features product reviews and directs browsers to a buy button at Target.com to complete the purchase.

The moves come as the first two new Toys R Us stores — one in Houston, the other in Paramus, New Jersey — will open in November as part of a small comeback of the defunct iconic toy chain in the U.S.

Target.com will also power online sales in the new Toys R Us experiential retail stores.

Kroger, Walgreens halt US e-cig sales

NEW YORK — Two major retailers say they will no longer sell e-cigarettes in the U.S. amid mounting health questions surrounding vaping.

Supermarket chain Kroger and drugstore chain Walgreens announced Monday they would discontinue sales of e-cigarettes at their stores nationwide, citing an uncertain regulatory environment.

The vaping industry has come under scrutiny after hundreds of people have fallen ill and at least eight have died after using vaping devices.

Walmart announced last month that it would stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores nationwide.

Kroger said it would stop selling e-cigarettes as soon at its current inventory runs out at its more than 2,700 stores and 1,500 fuel centers. The Cincinnati-based company operates the Ralphs, Harris Teeter and other stores.

Walgreens operates more than 9,500 stores in the U.S.

Producer prices drop 0.3% in Sept.

WASHINGTON — U.S. producer prices fell in September, another sign that inflation remains tame more than 10 years into America's economic expansion.

The Labor Department says its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, fell 0.3% last month, the first drop since June and the biggest since January. Even core wholesale prices, which exclude volatile food and energy prices, tumbled 0.3%.

Falling prices were widespread, ranging from clothing to machinery.

Over the past year, producer prices have risen a modest 1.4 percent, and core producer prices are up 2 percent.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressured the Federal Reserve to lower U.S. interest rates, arguing, among other things, that inflation poses no threat even though unemployment is at a 50-year low 3.5 percent. The Fed has already cut rates twice this year.

Domino's reports weak 3rd quarter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Domino's Pizza had a weaker-than-expected third quarter with pressure building from third-party delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash.

On Tuesday, the world's biggest pizza chain reported its fourth consecutive quarter of declining same-store sales in the U.S.

Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 2.4 percent, shy of the 2.7 percent growth Wall Street had anticipated, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Net income rose 3 percent to $86.4 million, or $2.05 per share, 2 cents short of forecasts. Revenue rose 4 percent to $820.8 million, also lower than expected, according to FactSet.

Domino's has tried to counter the competition in delivery by opening more stores with the goal of getting food to people even faster. It opened 214 stores in the quarter and ramped up promotions in August and September which can boost volume, but increase pressure on the bottom line.

Nissan names a new chief executive

TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. has named the head of its China business, Makoto Uchida, to be its new CEO.

Nissan officials said Uchida, a senior vice president, was chosen for his varied and cosmopolitan experience.

Uchida replaces Hiroto Saikawa, who resigned last month after acknowledging he had received questionable income payments.

Saikawa had succeeded former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of falsifying documents on deferred compensation and of breach of trust in allegedly diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He denies wrongdoing.

Saikawa had been closely allied with Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades and made it one of the most successful automakers in the world before his arrest in November 2018.

Bid for London exchange ditched

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday formally dropped its bid to buy its London counterpart after the European exchange rejected the surprise offer.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. said it was "unable to engage" with managers of the London Stock Exchange Group. That followed the London exchange's public rejection of the surprise offer in mid-September, citing "lack of strategic merit."

The acquisition would have created a $70 billion company. But the London exchange cited concerns including the Hong Kong exchange's ties to the government of the Chinese territory. That gives the mainland's ruling Communist Party influence over its operations.

The London Stock Exchange Group also owns the Milan exchange and the Russell Indexes in the U.S.

Facebook to settle ad suit for $40M

OAKLAND, Calif. — Facebook has agreed to pay $40 million to advertisers who said it inflated the amount of time its users watched videos.

The San Jose Mercury News says the California-based social media giant denied any wrongdoing in a lawsuit settlement. The settlement notice was filed Friday by the plaintiffs in Oakland federal court.

Advertisers sued Facebook in 2016 over user metrics that supposedly measured the average length of time consumers spent viewing posted video ads. The lawsuit said that the time was inflated by up to 900 percent and that helped convince advertisers to buy Facebook's video advertising services.

Facebook publicly acknowledged an error in the formula. The company denied allegations that its engineers knew about problems for more than a year and did nothing.

Lego tests way to recycle bricks

NEW YORK — Lego is looking to keep its plastic bricks out of the trash.

The toy maker is testing a way for customers to ship their unwanted bricks back and get them into the hands of other kids.

It says customers in the U.S. can now print out a mailing label on its site, dump their used Lego bricks in a box and send them off for free. Lego says the blocks will be cleaned, placed in a box and given to Teach for America, a nonprofit that will donate them to classrooms across the United States. Some bricks will be also sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for their after-school programs.

Lego says if the test is successful, it may expand the program beyond the U.S. next year.

Wire reports