Nation and World briefs for January 3

Stock market starts off 2019 with more turbulence

NEW YORK — The roller-coaster ride on Wall Street resumed on Wednesday, the first trading day of the new year, as stocks plunged early on, then slowly recovered and finished with a slight gain.

ADVERTISING


The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as much as 398 points in the first few minutes of trading after more shaky economic news from China. But it gradually recouped those losses, and a small rally over the last 15 minutes of trading left major indexes a bit higher than where they started.

A Chinese government survey and one by a major business magazine showed manufacturing in China weakened in December as global and domestic demand cooled. That weighed on big exporters, with tech companies like Microsoft and industrials like Boeing taking sharp losses early on, only to bounce back.

That kind of whiplash was typical during the last three months of 2018, and many strategists think it is likely to continue.

After trading ended, Apple gave a quarterly sales forecast that was far worse than analysts expected. It said its revenue will be lower than previously believed because of China’s slowing economy. In aftermarket trading, Apple fell 7 percent. Other tech companies, especially chipmakers, sank as well.

6 die in Denmark’s worst train accident since 1988

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Six passengers were killed when a Danish train sustained damage while crossing a bridge that was closed to cars because of high wind Wednesday, and authorities investigated if falling cargo from a freight train caused Denmark’s deadliest railway accident in 30 years.

Authorities said the two trains were traveling in opposite directions on the bridge linking s Denmark’s islands. Aerial TV footage showed a front side of the passenger train ripped open. Photos showed crates of beer on the freight train and a tarpaulin on top torn in pieces.

Jesper Nielsen told Denmark’s TV2 he was riding on the passenger train and it “was out on the bridge when there was a huge ‘bang’ … very quickly thereafter, the train braked.”

The rail operator, Danish Railways, told Denmark’s TV2 the victims were passengers on a train going from the city of Odense, on the central Danish island of Funen, to the capital of Copenhagen when the accident took place about 8 a.m.

Police declined to comment directly on a report from Denmark’s TV2 channel that a large freight container had likely fallen off the cargo train.

“It is much too early to speculate as to what might have caused it,” chief police investigator Joergen Andersen told reporters. “It has been a pretty serious accident.”

The accident, in which 16 people were injured, took place on a road-and-rail bridge, part of the Storebaelt system of bridges and a tunnel that link the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen. The system was closed to cars overnight because of strong winds but trains were allowed to continue using it.

Apple drops iPhone bombshell on already reeling stock market

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple acknowledged that demand for iPhones is waning, confirming investor fears that the company’s most profitable product has lost some of its luster.

The reckoning came in a letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook to the company’s shareholders released after the stock market closed Wednesday.

Cook said Apple’s revenue for the October-December quarter — including the crucial holiday shopping season — will fall well below the company’s earlier projections and those of analysts, whose estimates sway the stock market.

Apple now expects revenue of $84 billion for the period. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Apple’s revenue to be about 9 percent higher — $91.3 billion. The official results are scheduled to be released Jan. 29.

Cook traced most of the revenue drop to China, where the economy has been slowing and Apple has faced tougher competition from home-team smartphone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi. President Donald Trump has also raised new tensions between the U.S. and China by imposing tariffs on more than $200 billion in goods, although so far the iPhone hasn’t been affected directly.

Michigan man held for spying in Russia was frequent visitor

DETROIT — As a staff sergeant with the Marines in Iraq, Paul Whelan enjoyed fine cigars and showed an affinity for Russia — even spending two weeks of military leave in Moscow and St. Petersburg instead of at home in the U.S. with family and friends.

The 48-year-old Detroit-area man had an account on a Russian social media site, where he posted festive notes on the country’s national holidays.

Now, he’s under arrest there on espionage allegations.

Whelan has visited Russia since at least 2007 and was there again for a friend’s wedding, showing other guests around, said his twin brother, David Whelan. He was due to return home on Jan. 6, the brother said.

U.S. officials are seeking answers about Paul Whelan’s arrest on spying charges. The Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, said Whelan was caught “during an espionage operation,” but gave no details.

US Catholic bishops to pray over clergy sexual abuse scandal

MUNDELEIN, Ill. — U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops gathered Wednesday for a weeklong retreat near Chicago on the church sexual abuse scandal that organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy.

The retreat began a day after The Associated Press reported that the Vatican blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures last year to address the scandal because U.S. church leaders didn’t discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See enough beforehand.

The rebuke from Rome was contained in a letter from a Vatican official before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in November. The move stunned abuse survivors and some other Catholics demanding actions.

ADVERTISING


The retreat also is a prelude to a summit of the world’s bishops at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis that has lashed the church.

The meetings follow two blistering reports during 2018 from state attorneys general — in Illinois and Pennsylvania — alleging negligence by state church leaders.