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US drops designation of China as currency manipulator

The Trump administration is dropping its designation of China as a currency manipulator in advance of the signing Wednesday of a Phase 1 U.S.-China trade agreement. The preliminary pact that the two sides are set to sign includes a section that’s intended to prevent China from manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages. The action announced Monday comes five months after the Trump administration had branded China a currency manipulator — the first time that any country had been so named since 1994 during the Clinton administration.

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New Boeing CEO inherits crisis created under his predecessor

Boeing’s new CEO is in place, and he is laying out goals for this year, starting with the safe return to flight of the grounded 737 Max. David Calhoun has a long to-do list as he takes over for fired CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Calhoun will oversee Boeing’s legal strategy as it deals with dozens of lawsuits by families of the 346 people who died in crashes of the 737 Max jetliner. He’ll have to fix Boeing’s strained relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration. And most of all, he’ll have to try to restore the company’s battered reputation.

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High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry

PORTLAND, Ore. — Hemp growers and entrepreneurs rejoiced a year ago when U.S. lawmakers reclassified the plant as a legal agricultural crop. Now, they worry their businesses could be crippled if federal policymakers move ahead with draft rules for growing the cannabis plant closely related to marijuana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the comment period on its proposal by a month after farmers, processors and officials in nearly every state raised concerns. Most of the anxiety involves how the government plans to test for THC, the high-inducing compound found in marijuana and hemp. The USDA says it will analyze information from this year’s growing season before releasing its final rules, which would take effect in 2021.

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Aramco’s ‘greenshoe option’ pushes IPO to record $29.4B

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi oil giant Aramco’s initial public offering raised $29.4 billion, more than previously announced after the company says it used a so-called “greenshoe option” to sell an additional 450 million shares to meet investor demand. The company said Sunday the additional shares were allotted to investors during the bookbuilding process and that no additional shares are being offered into the market now. Aramco’s additional sales mean it has floated 1.7% of its shares.

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US budget deficit running 11.8% higher this year

The U.S. budget deficit through the first three months of this budget year is up 11.8% from the same period a year ago, putting the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit in eight years. The Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit from October through December totaled $356.6 billion. Both government spending and revenues set records for the first three months of this budget year, but spending rose at a faster clip than tax collections, pushing the deficit total up. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the deficit will hit $1 trillion this year.

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Stocks climb ahead of trade deal, sending S&P 500 to record

Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street ahead of the signing of a “Phase 1” trade deal with China, sending the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to record highs. Technology companies led the way. The gains came a day before major banks kick off the latest earnings reporting season for U.S. companies. The S&P 500 rose 22 points, or 0.7%, to 3,288. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83 points, or 0.3%, to 28,907. The Nasdaq climbed 95 points, or 1%, to 9,273. Bond prices fell as demand for safe-haven assets diminished. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.84%.

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Shareholders entitled to opioid distributor’s board records

DOVER, Del. — A Delaware judge has ordered one of the world’s largest distributors of opioid painkillers to turn over corporate records to shareholders investigating possible wrongdoing. The judge ruled Monday that shareholders of AmerisourceBergen are entitled to inspect formal board materials. They also will be allowed to conduct a deposition to determine whether there are other materials they should be entitled to see. The ruling comes after AmerisourceBergen last year rejected a “books and records” demand from the plaintiffs seeking to investigate whether directors and officers had committed mismanagement or breached their fiduciary duties in connection with the distribution of opioids.

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Oklahoma attorney general sues distributors of opioids

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says he is suing three distributors of opioids. Hunter filed the lawsuit on Monday in Cleveland County District Court against Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. The lawsuit comes after Hunter won another against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in which the company was ordered to pay $465 million. The state also reached settlements last year of $270 million against opioid makers Purdue Pharma and $85 million with Teva Pharmaceuticals. It reached an $8.75 million settlement last week with Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., both subsidiaries of Dublin-based Endo International.

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Pot politics: Some Northeast states regroup on legalization

NEW YORK — Marijuana legalization looked like it was on a roll in the Northeast a year ago. It had already passed in three of the region’s states and was a priority for governors in three more, including populous New York. Then legislative efforts stalled, and a vaping sickness stirred new concerns. But the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut still want to make recreational pot legal, and they and Pennsylvania’s governor have been comparing notes on how to do it. The states have different approaches and political appetites. And they’re facing new questions as both opponents and advocates of legalization point to the vaping scare to make their cases.

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Visa buys financial technology company Plaid for $5.3B

Visa has purchased the financial technology company Plaid for $5.3 billion, the companies said Monday, a major push by the payment processor into other types of money transfer systems outside of credit and debit cards. Plaid allows consumers to connect their bank accounts to other types of financial services apps like Venmo, PayPal, Betterment and Transferwise. Its an important but relatively unknown middle man between the banks, who hold consumers’s cash, and the platforms who help send that money.

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UAE, Indonesia reach multi-billion dollar investment deals

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates have affirmed deeper economic ties during a visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in which he sought billions of dollars to finance his country’s infrastructure and energy projects. After meeting at Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan palace, Widodo and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan witnessed the exchange of 16 agreements and memoranda of understanding. The two sides said they included 11 business-to-business agreements on energy and infrastructure. Indonesia valued the investment for those projects at $22.9 billion, though it was not immediately clear how much the UAE would directly invest. The two governments say they reached five other agreements on religion, health, education, agriculture and counterterrorism.

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The S&P 500 index rose 22.78 points, or 0.7%, to 3,288.13. The Nasdaq composite climbed 95.07 points, or 1%, to 9,273.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.28 points, or 0.3%, to 28,907.05. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 11.96 points, or 0.7%, to 1,669.61.

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