The world’s largest pork company is teaming up with a major energy company to turn pig manure into renewable natural gas and more in Wednesday’s Markets In Brief.

Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy announced a joint venture partnership Tuesday to trap methane from hog waste and convert it into power for heating homes and generating electricity.

Smithfield previously announced that its company-owned and contract farms over the next decade will cover waste-treatment pits to capture the gas and keep out rainwater. The gas will be channeled to processing centers and converted into natural gas.

The joint venture with Dominion will operate initially in North Carolina, Virginia and Utah. The first projects are scheduled to be operating by late 2019.


US Consumer Confidence Slips in November But is Still Strong

U.S. consumer confidence slipped this month but remains strong.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 135.7 in November from October’s 18-year high 137.9.

The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their outlook for the next six months. Their evaluation of today’s economy improved — but their assessment of future conditions slipped in November.

“Overall, consumers are still quite confident that economic growth will continue at a solid pace into early 2019,” says Lynn Franco, a Conference Board economist. “However, if expectations soften further in the coming months, the pace of growth is likely to begin moderating.”

Economists monitor consumer spirits because Americans’ spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. From July through September, consumer spending rose at a 4 percent annual pace, fastest since late 2014.

Americans’ sunny mood reflects a strong job market. Unemployment has dropped to a five-decade low 3.7 percent. That is why 46.6 percent of respondents told the Conference Board that jobs are “plentiful” — highest share since January 2001.

Economists are worried that U.S. economic growth could decelerate as the effect of last year’s tax cuts fades and President Donald Trump’s taxes on imports take a toll.

“Despite a modest decline in confidence and the recognition that the pace of economic growth is slowing, consumers remain an upbeat lot,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said in a research note. “For now, they also appear to be comfortable opening their wallets and purses, letting their spending speak clearly on their behalf.”

Judge: Trump Hotel Boost From Presidency Does Not Break Law

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of breaking a law on unfair competition by using the presidency to attract customers to restaurants in his Washington, D.C., hotel.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington says the Cork Wine Bar may indeed be losing customers as lobbyists and others flock to the nearby Trump International Hotel, but that does not constitute unfair competition under the local law. He says to rule otherwise would mean pop singers, famous chefs and professional athletes could not use their celebrity to promote companies they own either.

The lawsuit was brought by Cork less than two months after Trump assumed office last year.

Owner Khalid Pitts has tweeted that Cork plans to appeal the decision.

Ivanka Trump, Apple CEO to Visit Idaho Schools

Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and White House adviser, is scheduled to visit a southwestern Idaho school district with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

White House officials say the visit on Tuesday is part of Ivanka Trump’s workforce development initiative that includes science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM education.

She and Cook are scheduled to visit the Wilder School District west of Boise.

Apple in 2016 donated iPads to all students and teachers in the district as part of a program to help students lacking access to technology. The school district is one of southwestern Idaho’s poorest.

Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon in a letter to parents says the district will showcase how it is combining learning and technology.

Feds Want Judge to Unseal Wilmington Trust Sentencing Memos

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to unseal sentencing documents submitted by attorneys for four former executives for the only financial institution to be criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program.

Former Wilmington Trust president Robert Harra Jr., chief credit officer William North, chief financial officer David Gibson and controller Kevyn Rakowski face sentencing next month for fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.

Prosecutors say sentencing materials submitted by defense attorneys last week largely consist of letters to the court authored by third parties on behalf of defendants. They say there is a presumption of public access to those documents.

Prosecutors note that Harra’s filing includes more than 100 letters written on his behalf, including letters from current and former public officials and other prominent Delawareans.

Uber fined nearly $1.2 million by Dutch, UK over data breach

The ride-hailing service Uber has been fined the equivalent of nearly $1.2 million by British and Dutch authorities for failing to protect customers’ data during a cyberattack in 2016.

Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office said Tuesday it fined the company 385,000 pounds ($491,000) and Dutch officials imposed a 600,000-euro ($679,000) fine for violating Dutch data protection laws.

British officials cited a series of “avoidable data security flaws” that allowed personal data for roughly 2.7 million U.K. customers to be downloaded by hackers during an incident in October and November 2016.

Dutch officials say Uber did not report the data breach to authorities within 72 hours as required by regulations. Officials say 174,000 Dutch citizens were affected by the data breach.

Malaysian Resort Company Sues Disney, Fox Over Theme Park

A Malaysian resort developer is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from Walt Disney Co. and Fox Entertainment Group for alleged breach of contract related to a theme park.

Genting Malaysia Bhd said in a statement Tuesday that it filed the lawsuit in the Central California District Court on Monday citing damages from Fox’s withdrawal from the project. Calls to Disney rang unanswered after office hours.

Reports said Fox backed out of its five-year-old agreement to license its intellectual property for a Fox World theme park in Resort World Genting after disagreements over the terms of the deal. Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox also raised issues because Genting’s resort includes a casino, which conflicts with Disney’s stance against gambling. The theme park would have been Fox’s first.

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