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    The unprecedented move from MGM Resorts International to sue hundreds of victims of last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas using an obscure U.S. law never tested in court has been framed by the casino-operator as an effort to avoid years of costly litigation — but the legal maneuver may not play out that way. The company is not seeking money in the lawsuits filed in at least seven states over the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Instead, it wants federal courts to declare that it has no liability to survivors or families of slain victims under a federal law enacted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. MGM argues that the Oct. 1 shooting met two conditions of the law: it qualifies as an act of terrorism and federally certified security services were used at the venue where 22,000 concertgoers were gathered as gunfire rained down from the company's Mandalay Bay casino-resort. But experts believe legal resolutions won't come quickly because appeals are practically guaranteed and a U.S. court may not be the appropriate entity to determine whether the shooting is considered terrorism. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday that the law authorizes its leader to make that declaration. MGM's lawsuits target victims who have sued the company and voluntarily dismissed their claims or have threatened to sue after a gunman shattered the windows of his hotel suite and fired on a crowd of country music fans. Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before killing himself. MGM is invoking the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002, enacted to urge development and use of anti-terrorism technologies by providing companies a way to limit liability if their federally certified products or services fail to prevent a terrorist attack. After 9/11, manufacturers and others were concerned they could be sued out of business after an attack. The law has never been used to avoid liability after mass violence, such as the shooting at a Colorado movie theater in 2012, because previous attacks haven't involved services or products certified by Homeland Security. The department has only approved about 1,000 services and technologies, including airport screening equipment and stadium security. MGM said in the lawsuits filed in Nevada, California, Utah and other states that its security vendor for the outdoor concert venue, Contemporary Services Corp., was federally certified. The Department of Homeland Security said in response to MGM's lawsuits that its secretary 'possesses the authority to determine whether an act was an 'act of terrorism'' under the law in question, and it 'has not made any such determination regarding the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting incident.' The agency says it's reviewing the matter. The law broadly defines it as an unlawful act that harms a person in the U.S. and 'uses or attempts to use' weapons or other methods that can cause mass destruction. MGM says Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is not the only one with authority to make the call and that her public statements 'make clear' the attack meets the law's requirements. The company's argument is 'far too broad of an interpretation of the statute. It should be fairly clear that what MGM did is not what was intended in the statute,' said Brian Finch, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Washington D.C. 'It is (the secretary's) responsibility, not that of a judge.' CSC's general counsel, James Service, said the company doesn't comment on litigation. MGM faced immediate backlash over the lawsuits this week, and it insisted in tweets and statements that it is trying to expedite resolutions for the victims. It stressed that it is 'not asking for money or attorney's fees' and directed the complaints 'only at people who have already sued us or have threatened to sue us.' 'We are seeking justice through the federal court system in order to reach a timely resolution. We want to resolve these cases quickly, fairly and efficiently,' spokeswoman Debra DeShong said on MGM's Twitter account. Victims' attorneys and a legal scholar told The Associated Press that the company's strategy won't speed up anything. Alfred Yen, associate faculty dean and professor at Boston College Law School, said the law is not perfectly clear, and unless the parties settle, the matter could reach the U.S. Supreme Court because whoever loses is likely to appeal. 'This is a high-stakes, controversial case. A court would be very careful not to rush to a judgment on this,' Yen said. 'It is going to take a long time for a court to decide the merits of this case.' ___ Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO
  • James Gunn was fired Friday as director of 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' because of old tweets that recently emerged where he joked about subjects like pedophilia and rape. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn announced the removal. 'The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,' Horn said in a statement. Gunn has been writer and director of the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' franchise from the start, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of multicolored misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Chris Pratt a major movie star. Through two installments the franchise has brought in more than $1.5 billion in global box office. Gunn apologized for the old tweets Friday after his firing, echoing similar sentiments he expressed on Twitter a day earlier. 'My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time,' Gunn said in a statement. 'Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then.' Gunn's current Twitter account is heavy on left-leaning politics, and some on the right with whom he'd sparred found and promoted the tweets from 2008 to 2011 that led to his firing. Disney did not announce a replacement director for 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.' Gunn had been writing the script and it's not clear how far along he was or whether new writers will be brought in. Marvel Studios has not announced a release date, though Gunn had said 2020 was the target. In addition to Pratt, the 'Guardians' franchise stars Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista, and features the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. The characters also were an essential part of this year's Disney and Marvel megahit 'Avengers: Infinity War.' Fans at Comic-Con in San Diego said they disapproved of Gunn's tweets, but were mixed on how they felt about his firing. 'It's unfortunate to hear and makes me question whether I would see a movie like that even without his creative involvement,' Mario Panighetti of Mountain View, California said. Joanne Renda of Toronto said, 'It's never really funny to joke about that stuff, but copping to it is the first step. Everyone deserves a second chance. It's kind of crazy our culture today, firing people right away.' ___ AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this story from San Diego. ___ Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .
  • A contractor convicted of scamming dozens of New Jersey homeowners out of nearly $2 million following Superstorm Sandy has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison. Jamie Lawson must also pay $1,860,981 in restitution under the sentence imposed Friday. Lawson had pleaded guilty last October to money laundering and theft charges. But his sentencing had been postponed numerous times since then as he contemplated taking back his guilty plea. Ocean County prosecutors say the 43-year-old Brick resident moved to New Jersey shortly after Sandy hammered the state in 2012. He soon contracted with dozens of homeowners whose residences were damaged by the storm, then either did little work or none at all.
  • It's more than $1 billion over budget and five years behind schedule, but an elaborate new veterans hospital is finally opening in suburban Denver on Saturday with the promise of state-of-the-art medical care. The $1.7 billion Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center made it through nearly a decade of management blunders, legal battles, federal investigations and congressional hearings. Lawmakers were so angry they stripped the VA of the authority to manage big projects in the future and gave it to the Army's construction experts, the Corps of Engineers. Veterans say they are frustrated by the slow and tortuous path the VA followed but relieved the hospital is finally done. 'The cost overrun has been unfortunate. The schedule slip has been unfortunate. Yeah, it's all been unfortunate,' said Leanne Wheeler, an Air Force veteran who gets VA health care in Denver. But 'we're glad to have it,' she said. The bright, airy complex in the east Denver suburb of Aurora is a collection of a dozen large buildings connected by a long, soaring, glass-walled corridor. From above, it looks like square leaves growing from a vine. Most patients will have private rooms, with space for family to stay overnight. Operating rooms have easy access to the intensive care unit as well as pre- and post-operation rooms. When it's in full operation, the facility will offer services that the old VA hospital in Denver does not, including clinics for spinal cord injuries, mammography, PET scans for cancer, prosthetics and aquatic therapy. But a post-traumatic stress disorder program will remain at the old campus for now. It was axed from the new facility when the VA tried to rein in soaring costs. The old hospital is 'kind of dingy, depressing,' with a dreary, military feel, said John Keene, a Marine Corps veteran and executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 in Denver. 'I've heard anecdotally that some veterans don't use the VA because just walking into the facility can bring back memories,' he said. The new hospital should be more inviting, Keene said. It has been in the works since 2002, when the VA proposed making it part of a University of Colorado hospital then in the planning stages. But the agency dropped that idea when veterans said they wanted a separate facility. In 2006, the VA hired a design team, and in 2009, the agency estimated it could build the new hospital for $537 million and finish by 2013, according to a government investigation. Six years later, the price tag had soared to more than $1.7 billion. What went wrong, according to multiple investigations, was that VA officials opted for a lavish design and tried to use a complicated contract they didn't fully understand. They failed to get the designers and builders to agree on plans and costs, and they didn't oversee the work closely enough, investigators said. Congress was furious, holding multiple hearings and demanding that the VA fire anyone responsible. But in the end, no one was let go or criminally charged . The VA said it was ready to fire one executive and was investigating another, but both retired before the agency could act. Other officials were demoted or transferred. Congress eventually agreed to finish the hospital. The Army Corps of Engineers took over construction management and trimmed the final cost by about $400,000, to just under $1.7 billion, according to VA numbers. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, whose district includes the hospital, was a dogged critic of the project's planners and managers but declined to dwell on the problems this week. 'While we can debate the long road it took for us to get here, Saturday will be about the veterans and their families,' he said in an email to The Associated Press. Keene, the VFW post commander, worries that the public will blame hospital staff for the problems. 'They kind of have a weight around their neck coming out of the gate because of all the cost overruns,' he said, but they're not the ones responsible. 'Those are good people and they're trying to do their best,' he said. ___ Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/dan%20elliott .
  • Facebook said Friday that it has suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon while it investigates how it collects and shares Facebook and Instagram's user data. Facebook has been facing increased scrutiny over how third-party firms use its data since news broke in March that data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user data. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Facebook had suspended Crimson Hexagon. The newspaper says among the firm's clients is a Russian nonprofit with ties to the Kremlin. 'We don't allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram,' said Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships. 'We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate.' Facebook said Friday that Crimson Hexagon is cooperating and that so far its investigation hasn't found evidence that the firm obtained Facebook or Instagram information inappropriately. Crimson Hexagon says on its website it has access to over one trillion consumer conversations from social media, forums, blogs and reviews. In a blog posting , Crimson Hexagon Chief Technology Officer Chris Bingham said the company 'abides completely' by the rules social media sites including Twitter and Facebook put in place to limit the ways third-party companies can use their data. He said the firm only collects publicly available social media data. He contrasted that with Cambridge Analytica's use of private user data. Users of Crimson Hexagon's platform, which include government customers, analyze the data to understand large-scale consumer trends and preferences, Bingham wrote. 'Government entities that leverage the Crimson Hexagon platform do so for the same reasons as many of our other non-government customers: a broad-based and aggregate understanding of the public's perception, preferences and sentiment about matters of concern to them,' he wrote.
  • The Latest on rising trade tensions following comments by President Donald Trump (all times local): _____ 11:50 a.m. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is defending President Donald Trump's comment lamenting the Federal Reserve's action to raise U.S. interest rates. Mulvaney says he's sure most presidents have had similar thoughts about Fed actions, adding: 'There's nothing non-factual or inaccurate about it.' Mulvaney tells Fox News Channel that Trump 'is not the first president, nor he is he the first Republican conservative or Democrat who is frustrated that every time things seem to getting a lot better (economically), the Fed tries to pump the brakes.' Mulvaney said Trump 'absolutely respects the independence of the Fed, but that doesn't prevent him or previous presidents from voicing their opinions.' Trump's comments break with a long-standing White House tradition to avoid any real or perceived influence on the nation's central bank. _____ 9:45 a.m. President Donald Trump is predicting that U.S. farmers will emerge victorious from a trade dispute that has hurt soybean prices. Trump in a tweet blamed poor soybean prices on 'bad (terrible) Trade Deals' with U.S. trading partners in the past. He's also pointing to Canada's placement of high tariffs on dairy products but says, 'Farmers will WIN!' The tweet comes as Trump is indicating he may escalate his trade fight with China and showing a willingness to place tariffs on up to $500 billion in products imported from China. The administration has slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods to date and China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork. _____ 9:13 a.m. President Donald Trump is criticizing the Federal Reserve as well as some of the largest U.S. trading partners over monetary policy. In a Friday tweet the president laments rising U.S. interest rates, a day after he cast aside concerns about the Federal Reserve's independence to say he was unhappy with the central bank's recent actions. Trump says: 'China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day - taking away our big competitive edge.' He adds: 'As usual, not a level playing field...' Trump made a campaign pledge of designating China as a currency manipulator, but his administration has declined to make an official determination to that effect. _____ 9:05 a.m. President Donald Trump is indicating that he's ready to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell. In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said 'I'm willing to go to 500,' referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods imported last year from China. The administration to date has slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in a trade dispute over what it calls the nation's predatory practices. Dow futures that had already been pointing modestly lower slid sharply about a half hour before the opening bell. The yuan dipped to a 12-month low of 6.8 to the dollar, off by 7.6 percent since mid-February.
  • The maker of a permanent contraceptive implant subject to thousands of injury reports and repeated safety restrictions by regulators said Friday that it will stop selling the device in the U.S., the only country where it remains available. Bayer said the safety of its Essure implant has not changed, but it will stop selling the device at the end of the year due to weak sales. The German company had billed the device as the only non-surgery sterilization method for women. As complaints mounted and demand slipped, it stopped Essure sales in Canada, Europe, South America, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed multiple restrictions on the device following patient reports of pain, bleeding, allergic reactions and cases where the implant punctured the uterus or shifted out of place. In May, the FDA said doctors must show women a checklist of the device's risks before implanting it. More than 16,000 U.S. women are suing Bayer over Essure. One of them, Amanda Rusmisell, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she's 'immensely thrilled' by Bayer's action. Rusmisell said she got the device in 2008 and developed severe pain and bleeding. She took part in patient-organized rallies accusing Bayer for not disclosing potential risks and said, choking back tears, 'Our very grassroots effort has worked.' Bayer received FDA approval to sell Essure in 2002 and promoted it as a quick and easy permanent solution to unplanned pregnancies. Essure consists of two thin-as-spaghetti nickel-titanium coils inserted into the fallopian tubes, where they spur the growth of scar tissue that blocks sperm from fertilizing a woman's eggs. Because of the reported complaints, the FDA added its most serious warning to the device in 2016 and ordered the company to conduct a 2,000-patient study. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday the agency would work with Bayer to continue the study, but noted 'Bayer will not be able to meet its expected enrollment numbers' for new patients. The study was designed to follow patients for three years to better assess complications. More than 750,000 women worldwide have received Essure. Demand has declined in recent years and plunged 70 percent after the 2016 boxed warning, the FDA said. Gottlieb said the FDA will continue to monitor adverse events reported to its database after Essure is removed from the market. 'I also want to reassure women who've been using Essure successfully to prevent pregnancy that they can continue to do so,' he said. Those who think it's causing problems, such as persistent pain, should consult with their doctors, Gottlieb added. Essure's original label warned that the device's nickel can result in allergic reactions. Its current labeling lists hives, rash, swelling and itching as possible reactions. But many women have attributed other problems to the implant, including mood disorders, weight gain, hair loss and headaches. Those problems are listed in the current FDA labeling for the device, with the qualifier: 'It is unknown if these symptoms are related to Essure or other causes.' Informational material Bayer supplied to doctors and patients lists potential problems and says the devices are meant to be permanent. It also says removal may require complicated surgery, including a hysterectomy, that might not be covered by insurance. Gottlieb noted that device removal 'has its own risks.' Diana Zuckerman, president of the nonprofit National Center for Health Research, said Essure is among medical devices approved without 'clear evidence of safety or effectiveness.' 'As a result, when thousands of women reported serious complications from Essure, there was no unbiased long-term research to refute or confirm those reports,' Zuckerman said. 'If patients had been listened to when the first clinical trials were conducted on Essure, better research would have been conducted to determine exactly how safe and effective Essure is.' Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a Los Angeles family planning specialist, called Bayer's move disappointing. She says most of her Essure patients have been satisfied. 'I would hope Bayer would use this opportunity to think about future research and product development,' Brandi said. 'Being able to offer women contraception that's permanent without surgery is a really great option.' Bayer spokeswoman Courtney Mallon said the company had no plans to re-design the device. Kate Nicholson, of Dallas, got an Essure implant last year after she and her husband decided not to have children. She said she sympathizes with women who have had problems but said ending Essure sales is the wrong move. 'Pulling it from the market is yet another way to limit our choices about our own bodies,' Nicholson said. 'I personally always had horrible experiences with different versions of 'the pill,' but it's still on the market and many women swear by it.' ___ Tanner reported from Michigan. Follow Matthew Perrone at @AP_FDAwriter and Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • U.S. and Turkish officials met on Friday to discuss impending American sanctions on Iran — an issue that has the potential to cause a new flashpoint in relations between the two NATO allies. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea, who met with Turkish treasury and foreign ministry officials, said his talks in Ankara were very 'positive' and that there was 'no hostility' on either side. He also met with a series of Turkish companies. Turkey's foreign ministry said for its part, that it was monitoring the sanctions and that authorities were working to ensure that Turkey is not 'negatively impacted by the upcoming sanctions.' President Donald Trump announced in May that he would pull the United States out of a 2015 agreement over Iran's nuclear program and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. His administration threatened countries with sanctions if they don't cut off Iranian oil imports by early November. Turkey, which imports a more than half of its oil supplies from neighboring Iran, had earlier suggested that it did not intend to cut off trade with Iran, saying it was not obliged to abide by 'unilateral' U.S. decisions. U.S. Treasury officials have reportedly said in Washington that the U.S. may consider providing waivers from the sanctions to some countries which require time to cut oil imports from Iran. Speaking to a small group of reporters in Ankara, Billingslea would not say, however, if Turkey would be granted exemptions. 'At this point, I'm not in a position to suggest that we are issuing waivers or exemptions,' he said. At the same time, Billingslea said that the U.S. was adamant about enforcing the new sanctions more 'actively.' In May, a U.S. court convicted a Turkish banker from state-run Halkbank for his role in helping Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions. The key witness was Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, who testified how he orchestrated the scheme and paid bribes to top Turkish officials.  The bank said it was working closely with the U.S. Treasury Department and hoped not to incur damages, but the case has strained Turkish-American relations. 'This time around, the treasury sanctions will be enforced very, very aggressively and very comprehensibly,' Billingslea said. 'I think the Turkish government understands our position on that.' 'We certainly would be very, very concerned about trying to trade with Iran in gold,' Billingslea said, adding that the U.S. was tracking and trying to understand 'large purchases of gold in Turkey.' Turkey, in its statement, said Iran was an 'important neighbor' for 'economic and commercial relations, as well as our energy imports.' According to data from the country's Energy Market Regulator, Turkey imported 3 million tons of crude oil from Iran in the first four months of 2018, making up 55 percent of crude supplies and 27 percent of its total energy imports. Billingslea said: 'Iran may be a neighbor of Turkey but they are not a friend or an ally.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be trying to tamp down public distress over a proposal to raise the national retirement age, saying he will listen to 'all opinions' on the matter. The lower house of parliament on Thursday passed the first reading of a law to raise the pension age for men to 65, up from 60, and from 55 to 63 for women. Activists from both Communist and free-market parties held demonstrations ahead of the vote, reflecting the unusually broad resistance to the pension changes. Putin's trust rating in public opinion surveys has fallen significantly since the government introduced the retirement proposal in June. Putin says Friday 'there's no final decision yet ... I, of course, will listen to all opinions, all points of view.' However, Putin did not suggest the proposed change would be walked back, saying that rising life expectancy in Russia puts the current system under too much pressure. Russia's economy suffered for several years because of Western sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea and a drop in world oil prices, but last year recorded a gross domestic product growth of about 1.5 percent.
  • U.S. stocks inched lower Friday as bond yields jumped, a shift that helped banks but hurt companies that pay big dividends. The dollar fell after President Donald Trump said China is manipulating its currency. Companies including Microsoft and Honeywell rose as investors were pleased with their quarterly reports, but General Electric stumbled. Stocks wobbled all week as investors reacted to solid company results as well as heightened trade tensions. The S&P 500 index was virtually flat for the week while the Russell 2000 index, which is made up of smaller companies that do more business inside the U.S., rose 0.6 percent. In the last two days Trump criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and said China, said he's willing to put tariffs on all U.S. imports from China, and said China, the European Union and others are harming the U.S. by weakening their currencies and reducing interest rates. Stocks weren't affected, but the dollar declined and short-term bond yields slipped, suggesting investors wondered if the Fed might raise interest rates more slowly. 'If there's a toss-up between raising and not raising (rates), you wonder what role these types of comments might possibly play,' said Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Samana said he doesn't think the Fed will make big changes to its policies based on Trump's comments, even if the president starts advocating more forcefully for lower rates. But it's something investors will have to think about. 'We think the Fed has independence and they'll continue to do the right thing,' he said. 'This is one more item that just creates noise in markets.' The S&P 500 index dipped 2.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,801.83. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 6.38 points to 25,058.12. The Nasdaq composite gave up 5.10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,820.20. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 4.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,696.81. Short-term bond yields inched higher. The yield on the 2-year Treasury note rose to 2.60 percent from 2.59 percent. Long-term bond prices dropped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.90 percent from 2.85 percent. That helped banks because bond yields are used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages. JPMorgan Chase gained 1.3 percent to $111.28 and Bank of America picked up 1.6 percent to $30.13. The dollar dropped sharply, to 111.52 yen from 112.46 yen. The euro rose to $1.1726 from $1.1644. Microsoft continued to set records after its fiscal fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street forecasts and its cloud computing division continued to grow. The company said it's being helped by its rivalry with Amazon, because some retailers are reluctant to team up with Amazon on cloud computing services while they compete with Amazon in sales. The stock climbed 1.8 percent to $106.27. General Electric lost 4.4 percent to $13.12 after it said its power business continued to struggle as revenue and orders decreased. GE, which has been selling and splitting off businesses, also cut its forecast for how much cash its businesses will generate. In a taped interview with CNBC, Trump said 'I'm willing to go to 500,' referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods the U.S. imported last year from China. Earlier this month the U.S. placed import taxes on $34 billion in goods imported from China and Beijing responded in kind. The Trump administration is considering tariffs on another $200 billion in goods. The dispute between the world's two largest economies stems from accusations that China steals technology from U.S. companies or forces them to hand over technology to Chinese companies as well as differences over the U.S. trade deficit with China. Investors have worried that the trade war and other disputes involving the U.S. could slow down the global economy. The People's Bank of China weakened the country's currency against the dollar on Friday. If the yuan continues to depreciate, goods exported to China will become more expensive to consumers there and Chinese exports would also be relatively cheaper. That could balance out suggested increases in tariffs by the Trump Administration. The yuan has been skidding since February, mostly because of slower economic growth in China and rising interest rates in the U.S. Benchmark U.S. crude added 1.4 percent to $70.46 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.7 percent to $73.07 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 percent to $2.07 a gallon. Heating oil edged up 0.7 percent to $2.10 a gallon. Natural gas lost 0.4 percent to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet. Gold rose 0.6 percent to $1,231.10 an ounce. Silver gained 1 percent to $15.55 an ounce. Copper jumped 2.2 percent to $2.76 a pound. Germany's DAX lost 1 percent and France's CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent. ___ Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore. AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay