Business Highlights

___Luxury retailers, technology companies push stocks higherNEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies helped lead stocks broadly higher on Wall Street Tuesday as strong earnings reports from several companies put investors in a buying mood.The rally, which briefly wavered around midday, extended the benchmark S&P 500 index’s winning streak to five days.___Trump has solid US economy for SOTU, but threats remainWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will enjoy the backdrop of a mostly solid economy as he delivers his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, though questions about its sustainability linger. Trump will likely tout the latest signs of strength: Friday’s jobs report showed that employers added the most jobs in January in nearly a year.___A hill of beans: Soybeans upstage trade talksWASHINGTON (AP) — Soybeans, which account for less than 1 per cent of U.S. exports, are upstaging weightier issues as the Trump administration tackles trade disputes with China and other countries. The outsize importance of soybeans — mostly used as animal feed but also consumed by humans in everything from General Tso’s Tofu to soy lattes — was apparent once again recently in two days of U.S.-China trade talks.___Trump to tap David Malpass, critic of World Bank, to lead itWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to nominate David Malpass, a Trump administration critic of the World Bank, to lead the institution. That’s according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly on personnel decisions. Malpass, the undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, has been a sharp critic of the World Bank, especially over its lending to China.___Retail group forecasts solid retail sales growth for 2019NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation is forecasting that retail sales could increase between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent to more than $3.8 trillion this year as shoppers remain in a mood to spend in a strong economy. The forecast is nearly in line with the 4.6 per cent gain the nation’s largest retail trade group estimated for 2018. Last year’s results are preliminary pending the release of data from the Commerce Department that was delayed because of the government shutdown.___Heavy duty: Detroit 3 all roll out biggest pickups this yearDETROIT (AP) — All three Detroit automakers are rolling out new heavy-duty pickup trucks this year, courting buyers who tow heavy trailers for work or recreation. The introductions are sure to spark claims about horsepower, torque, towing capacity and payload hauling. Pickups from Detroit were the three top-selling vehicles in the U.S. last year, totalling more than 2 million in sales. Heavy-duty versions, with bigger frames, beds, interiors and engines, make up about 30 per cent of that.___Exxon, Qatar Petroleum to expand LNG export plant in TexasDALLAS (AP) — Exxon and Qatar Petroleum say they will go ahead with plans for a $10 billion project to export liquefied natural gas from a facility in Texas. Construction will begin in next two months, and the plant is expected to start running in 2024. Demand for liquefied natural gas is booming, especially in Asia. The export plant will tap into growing production of the gas in west Texas and New Mexico.___Cubs family patriarch apologizes for racist emailsCHICAGO (AP) — The patriarch of the family behind the Chicago Cubs has apologized after an online media outlet published emails in which he took part in racist comments and conspiracy theories. Some of the emails Splinter News published Monday featured Joe Ricketts making Islamophobic comments. Others included conspiracies about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education. Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails, saying he believes “bigoted ideas are wrong.”___UK prime minister vows no return to hard border with IrelandLONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May has told business leaders in Northern Ireland that she is seeking changes to the U.K.’s withdrawal agreement with the European Union, but not the total removal of the Irish border provision that is the most contentious part of the deal. May has said during a visit to Belfast that the British government is committed to preventing the construction of a physical border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the EU.___5 reasons why autonomous cars aren’t coming anytime soonPITTSBURGH (AP) — Autonomous vehicles won’t be coming to your city anytime soon. Even the most optimistic of experts say it will be 10 years before the cars are everywhere, but others believe it will take decades. The biggest reasons are camera and laser sensors that can’t see through heavy snow or figure out where to go if lane lines are covered.___The S&P 500 index rose 12.83 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,737.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 172.15 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 25,411.52. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 54.55 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7,402.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 2.69 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,520.23.The Associated Press

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