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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, after returning from a trip to the southern border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump vows changes in high-tech visas

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Friday promised changes in the way the U.S. handles temporary visas that allow American companies to bring high-tech and other skilled workers into the U.S.

In a tweet, Trump said those who hold the temporary H1-B visas can "rest assured" because changes were coming that will bring "both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship."

He said the U.S. wants to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue careers in the U.S.

The changes to which he was referring are likely a proposal announced late last year by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration.

The proposal included a shift to online applications for the coveted visas and changed procedures to increase the advantages of applicants with graduate degrees.

It's a lottery system. There are 65,000 visas available, plus an additional 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from a U.S. institution. The advanced-degree visas are chosen first, and those not selected are thrown into the pot of the 65,000 visas, which include those with bachelor's degrees.

President Barack Obama's administration raised concerns that some businesses were using the visas to favor foreigners over U.S. workers, suing companies that it said violated the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provisions.

-- The Associated Press

Shell wants to sell Canadian refinery

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC is seeking buyers for an Ontario refinery and some sour gas facilities in Alberta as the company focuses on its $31 billion liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia.

"These assets have been a cornerstone of Shell Canada for many years, however, they are no longer a fit with Shell's evolving portfolio," the company said in an emailed statement.

The Hague-based company is among several that have sold Canadian oil sands assets over the past few years as pipeline bottlenecks, high costs and low local prices discourage investment. Now it joins Husky Energy Inc. as the second company to announce plans to sell a Canadian refinery this week.

Shell has increasingly focused on natural gas worldwide, and in October the company announced plans for what will be one of the largest liquefied natural gas plants to be built in years. The unit on Canada's Pacific Coast aims to tap Asia's growing demand for the heating and power-plant fuel.

-- Bloomberg News

Pace of home-rent increases slowing

WASHINGTON -- Something unusual is happening in U.S. housing: Rental inflation is decelerating even as wage growth picks up.

Over the past several business cycles, faster gains in average hourly earnings have meant faster increases in rental inflation, as landlords have exercised their market power. And since 2011, rental inflation has easily outpaced wage growth.

During the past two years, however, there has been a reversal of this trend as rental inflation has moderated and wage growth has picked up. The slowdown in price gains probably reflects a glut of apartments in urban centers across the country.

In December, rental inflation cooled to 3.5 percent, marking the slowest pace since mid-2015, according to data published Friday by the Labor Department.

Separate data released last week showed average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees -- a group that comprises 82 percent of the private-sector workforce -- were up 3.3 percent from a year earlier, marking the fastest pace of increase of the current economic expansion so far.

-- Bloomberg News

Volkswagen sets full-year sales record

FRANKFURT, Germany -- German automaker Volkswagen posted another annual sales record in 2018 as new SUV models boosted deliveries and the company managed to increase its share in China even as the car market there shrank for the first time in years.

The Wolfsburg-based maker of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda and other brand-name cars sold 10.83 million vehicles, beating its 2017 record of 10.74 million cars by 0.9 percent.

Marketing chief Christian Dahlheim said increasing sales in a global passenger car market that contracted by 1.2 percent last year was "a great result."

Dahlheim said the company overcame bottlenecks in getting cars certified under new emission rules that took effect Sept. 1 in Europe. Those difficulties hurt sales in the following months in Europe. The company overcame that with strong increases in South America and Eastern Europe as well as Russia. In the company's single largest market, China, sales rose 0.5 percent even as the overall market shrank.

In 2017, Volkswagen contested the title of world's biggest car manufacturer with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. The alliance asserted that it was No. 1 with 10.6 million vehicles sold and said Volkswagen inflated its tally by counting trucks. The alliance announces 2018 figures later this month.

Toyota, dethroned by Volkswagen as No. 1 in 2016, has forecast sales of 10.55 million for 2018 but has not released final figures.

-- The Associated Press

Charter, Tribune reach TV station deal

LOS ANGELES -- A showdown ended early Friday when Tribune Media and Charter Communications agreed to a new distribution deal, restoring the signals of nearly three dozen television stations, including KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles and KSWB Channel 5 in San Diego, to Charter's Spectrum pay-TV service.

The pact resolved a nine-day blackout of Tribune Media stations -- an outage that affected more than 6 million Charter Spectrum cable TV homes nationwide, including 1.5 million in the Los Angeles region.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement that will return Tribune Broadcasting's local television stations and WGN America to Spectrum customers and Tribune's viewers," the two companies said in a joint statement early Friday.

Terms of the distribution agreement were not disclosed.

The two companies had been locked in a three-week standoff over fee increases that Tribune Media was seeking for its programming.

The prospect of football fans missing the NFL playoffs helped spur the two companies to reach an accord, people familiar with the negotiations said.

-- Los Angeles Times

Business on 01/12/2019

Print Headline: Trump vows changes in high-tech visas Shell wants to sell Canadian refinery Pace of home-rent increases slowing Volkswagen sets full-year sales record Charter, Tribune reach TV station deal

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