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U.S. gas prices have dipped under $4 a gallon for the first time in more than five months. AAA says the national average is $3.99 for a gallon of regular. That's down 15 cents in just the last week, and 68 cents in the last month. Gasoline peaked at around $5.02 a gallon on June 14. Motorists in California and Hawaii are still paying above $5, and other states in the West are paying close to that. The cheapest gas is in Texas and several other states in the South and Midwest. The decline reflects falling prices for crude oil, which have dipped close to $90 a barrel from over $120 a barrel in June.
Asian stocks have followed Wall Street lower ahead of U.S. inflation data traders worry will show upward pressure on prices still is too strong for the Federal Reserve to ease off interest rate hikes. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul declined early Wednesday. Oil prices edged lower. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.4% for its fourth daily decline. U.S. government data are expected to show headline inflation in July eased from the previous month's four-decade high of 9.1%. But traders expect core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy, leaving rent and other expenses, to edge higher.
Asian shares are mostly declining amid a global fall in technology shares, including Japan’s SoftBank, which just reported hefty losses caused by the market downturn. Such worries are coming on top of concerns about inflation and what central banks might do to curb it. Shares fell Tuesday in Tokyo but rose in other regional markets. U.S. futures edged higher while oil prices fell. Analysts say regional tensions also remain a risk after the recent visit of U.S. House Speak Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Technology stocks were the biggest drag on Wall Street, where the benchmark S&P 500 edged 0.1% lower.
Asian stock markets are higher ahead of an update on the health of the U.S. jobs market while the Federal Reserve weighs whether more rate hikes are needed to cool surging inflation. U.S. futures and oil prices edged higher. Investors were looking ahead Friday to U.S. employment figures for signs of weakness that might prompt the Fed to decide it needs to ease off aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation. Investors worry rate increases by the Fed and other central banks in Europe and Asia might derail economic growth. Fed officials point to a strong job market as evidence the economy can tolerate higher borrowing costs.
Asian shares are mostly higher as investors welcome encouraging economic data and quarterly earnings reports from big companies. Benchmarks rose Thursday across the region, including Japan, China, Australia and South Korea. The gains followed a strong rally on Wall Street. Jitters eased over the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan after she left for South Korea and then later Japan, firm U.S. allies for decades. But analysts said some geopolitical risks remain, with China conducting military exercises near the self-ruled island that it claims as its own territory. Investors are also watching U.S. nonfarm payrolls for indications on hiring.
Baseball’s trade deadline day was an action-packed affair — and no one had more fun than the Padres. San Diego made the biggest splash, acquiring Juan Soto in a massive deal with the Washington Nationals. The sweet-swinging Soto, still just 23 years old, joins Manny Machado in the middle of the Padres’ order, and Fernando Tatis Jr. is on his way back after being sidelined by a broken left wrist. The Cardinals and Yankees also swapped big leaguers, with Gold Glove-winning center fielder Harrison Bader going to New York in exchange for left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery.
Asian stock markets are higher as traders watch for signs trade might be disrupted by U.S.-Chinese tensions over an American lawmaker’s visit to Taiwan. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul advanced after Beijing announced a ban on imports of Taiwanese citrus and fish but no immediate major penalties following the arrival of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. House of Representatives. The mainland’s ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan as part of its territory and rejects foreign official contact with the self-ruled island democracy. The mainland gave no indication it might target sensitive industries such as Taiwanese producers of processor chips needed by Chinese smartphone assemblers.
American basketball star Brittney Griner is back in court for her trial for cannabis possession amid U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure her release. The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist returned to court on Tuesday, a month after her trial began. She could face 10 years in prison if convicted. As her trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced growing public pressure to get her released. In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.
Drought and unusually hot weather have raised the salt levels in Italy’s largest delta, where the mighty Po River feeds into the Adriatic Sea south of Venice. It’s killing rice fields along with the shellfish that are a key ingredient in one of Italy’s culinary specialties. The impact may be more lasting, as saltwater is leaching inland distances never before recorded, seeping into aquifers. Plants along the banks of the Po River are wilting as they drink in water from salinated aquifers and secondary waterways have dried up, shrinking amphibians and birds’ wetland homes.
The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has set out from the port of Odesa. The departure of the ship laden with corn follows an internationally brokered deal that is expected to finally allow large stores of Ukrainian crops to reach foreign markets and ease a growing hunger crisis. The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni departed Odesa on Monday morning headed for Lebanon. Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the U.N. clearing the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion. Ukraine is one of the world’s key breadbaskets.