Stocks rise on trade progress hopes
NEW YORK — Stocks climbed again Friday as President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping of China prepared to meet and discuss trade, a meeting investors hope will start to resolve the two nations' trade dispute.
The U.S. market jumped this week after falling to a six-month low the week before. The rally helped the market finish with a modest gain in November, but the S&P 500 is still 5.8 percent away from the all-time high it set in late September. Among other issues, that drop reflects investors' pessimism that the U.S. and China will resolve their differences without causing damage to the global economy. The two sides have been sparring for months over issues including China's technology policy.
"The outlook for the global economy in 2019 does depend on some peace in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China," said David Kelly, chief global strategist for JPMorgan Funds. He said global stocks will probably jump if the two leaders announce the framework of a deal and fall if they don't. In any case, he thinks the two sides will reach an agreement by early 2019.
"Nobody's got much to gain from fighting a trade war, but we both are threatened with recession," he said.
Technology and health care companies made the largest gains Friday, but energy companies slipped as U.S. crude oil fell again, briefly trading under $50 a barrel. The price of crude oil dropped 22 percent in November, its worst month in a decade, hurt by concerns that supplies are too ample as global economic growth slows.
Honeywell moving HQ to Charlotte
RALEIGH — Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. is moving its headquarters and 750 jobs from New Jersey to Charlotte.
Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk announced the decision Friday a day after North Carolina expanded tax breaks for high-paying jobs. Lawmakers hurried through legislation this week that more than doubles the per-job annual cap on tax breaks to $16,000 to attract corporations that move high-paying jobs to North Carolina.
Honeywell's decision comes three years after it considered moving its Morris Plains, N.J., base but received a $40 million tax credit to stay.
Honeywell said it employed 131,000 people worldwide at the end of last year, about 35 percent of those in the United States. The company makes aerospace, energy efficiency, specialty chemicals, electronic and security products.
Facebook: Exec sought Soros research
NEW YORK — Having already acknowledged that it did opposition research on George Soros, Facebook says No. 2 executive Sheryl Sandberg had asked staff if the billionaire philanthropist had financial motivations against the company.
Friday's statement is in response to a New York Times article that describes Sandberg asking Facebook staff to look into Soros' financial interests in speaking out against the company in January. Facebook said the company was already researching Soros when Sandberg sent an email asking if Soros had shorted Facebook stock. Shorting a stock is essentially taking a bet it will decline.
Soros's Open Society Foundations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In a Thanksgiving eve post, outgoing executive Elliot Schrage took the blame for hiring the public relations firm doing opposition research on critics. Sandberg followed Schrage's note of contrition with one of her own, acknowledging her responsibility for overseeing Facebook's communications team.
Microsoft now most valuable public firm
NEW YORK — Microsoft has surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable publicly traded company. As other tech giants stumble, Microsoft's steady resilience is paying off. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found stability by moving away from its flagship Windows operating system and focusing on cloud-computing services with long-term business contracts. Microsoft eclipsed Apple briefly a few times this week, but didn't close on top until Friday.
Nissan exec arrested asserts innocence
TOKYO — An attorney for an American executive arrested in Japan on suspicion of collaborating with former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn in financial misconduct said Friday that his client is innocent.
Aubrey Harwell said his client, Nissan board member Greg Kelly, did nothing wrong and that Kelly acted "according to the law and according to company policy."
Kelly and Ghosn were arrested Nov. 19 in Tokyo on suspicion of collaborating to underreport Ghosn's income by $44 million over five years. They have not been able to make any comments while detained.
Ghosn's arrest stunned the world as he was long a respected figure in the global auto industry. Nissan has ousted him as chairman. The board of Renault SA, the French automaker allied with Nissan, has retained him while naming an interim chair and requesting more information about the allegations.
Kelly's assertions make it likely Ghosn may also say he is innocent. Neither have been formally charged. Their detention was extended on Friday until Dec. 10.
Amazon getting 'welfare,' union says
NASHVILLE — Nashville's police union is blasting the city's plans to award up to $15 million in incentives for Amazon's new facility, calling it "corporate welfare."
The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police said this week called for support of a resolution to block Amazon's incentives until city employees receive cost-of-living adjustments.
Nashville has proposed up to a $15 million cash grant based on each job Amazon creates within the next seven years.
Amazon has said its total incentive package in Nashville includes up to $102 million in performance-based incentives based on creating 5,000 jobs over the seven-year timeframe, with an average wage exceeding $150,000.
Mayor David Briley and Gov. Bill Haslam contend that Nashville and the state are getting great deals that will quickly pay themselves off.