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Asian shares eased on Wednesday following modest losses on Wall Street, but were still on track for a monthly rise as investors waited to see if upcoming job data could prod the Federal Reserve into raising interest rates as soon as September. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1 percent as traders awaited Friday's job report, but looked set for a near 2 percent gain in August. Japan's Nikkei stock index added 0.9 percent, poised to rise 1.8 percent for the month, as it got a boost from a weaker yen after upbeat U.S. data lifted the dollar overnight.
By David Morgan and Jason Lange WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A European Commission order requiring Apple Inc to pay Ireland $13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in unpaid taxes on Tuesday drew swift rebukes from the Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress, while reigniting calls for U.S. tax reform. The White House and the Treasury Department, which enforces federal tax policy, warned that U.S.-EU economic relations could be affected by the European Commission's ruling that Apple had received illegal state aid under its agreement with Ireland. The Business Roundtable, which represents U.S. chief executives, called the decision "an act of aggression" against a law-abiding U.S. company and a sovereign government.
SWIFT, the global financial messaging system, on Tuesday disclosed new hacking attacks on its member banks as it pressured them to comply with security procedures instituted after February's high-profile $81 million heist at Bangladesh Bank. In a private letter to clients, SWIFT said that new cyber-theft attempts - some of them successful - have surfaced since June, when it last updated customers on a string of attacks discovered after the attack on the Bangladesh central bank. "The threat is persistent, adaptive and sophisticated - and it is here to stay." The disclosure suggests that cyber thieves may have ramped up their efforts following the Bangladesh Bank heist, and that they specifically targeted banks with lax security procedures for SWIFT-enabled transfers.
U.S. consumer confidence rose to an 11-month high in August, with households more upbeat about the labor market, in a further sign that the economy was regaining steam after faltering in the first half of the year. While other data on Tuesday showed a moderation in house prices in June, the gains probably remain sufficient to boost household wealth and continue to support consumer spending, as well as make home purchasing affordable for first-time buyers. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased 4.4 points to 101.1 this month, the highest reading since September 2015.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission detailed the settlement with the London-based drug company in an order instituting an administrative proceeding arising out of violations of provisions in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. AstraZeneca, which cooperated with the probe, neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.
PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France cast serious doubt on Tuesday on the prospects of an EU free trade deal with the United States, adding to opposition within Germany and growing scepticism among Americans. Washington and Brussels are officially committed to sealing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January, but their chances of doing so are being eroded by approaching elections on both sides of the Atlantic and Britain's vote in June to leave the European Union.
Crude oil futures fell in early trade on Wednesday as the U.S. dollar held around three-week highs and industry stocks data indicated a build in U.S. crude inventories. International Brent crude oil futures were trading at $48.27 per barrel at 2052 EST, down 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their previous close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 16 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $46.19 a barrel.
All employees at the site affected by the blaze late on Monday were safe and an investigation was still underway, Gap spokeswoman Debbie Felix said. The clothing retailer owns a network of distribution centers in North America and England, including the affected facility, which spans over 8.6 million square feet (80 hectares), according to a regulatory filing. "The Fishkill distribution center is a primary distribution center for the northeast," said Nomura analyst Simeon Siegel, who added that Gap was re-routing inventory through another center.