Hermes goes for earthen tones; Ellie Saab revisits the ’60s

Hermes goes for earthen tones; Ellie Saab revisits the ’60s

PARIS — A giant, glowing crystal rock upon a sand-colored carpet evoked a glamorous alien planet for Hermes’ champagne-sipping VIP guests.

Earthen hues like browns, reds and yellows — colors long-associated with the heritage brand — were used at Saturday’s show to create Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s utilitarian, low-key yet luxuriant universe for spring.

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s top fashion designers used the platform of Paris Fashion Week to promote their war-battered industry.

Here are some highlights of the day’s spring-summer 2023 collections in Paris:

HERMES’ SUBTLE STRINGS

It was a Vanhee-Cybulski minimalist take on the 80s.

The lone pulsating crystal that glowed color from the center of the runway established the collection’s key idea: Simplicity is powerful.

As the show took off, the odd utilitarian features — such as toggles and the strange, perplexing box platform shoes that stomped throughout — were used with subtlety but aplomb.

It gave a sporty and outer-space feel to the collection’s stylish, almost empty, restraint — a mood that now defines the talented 44-year-old French designer’s repertoire.

Tan suede tunic minidresses sported beautiful, braided leather hems — showcased without jewelry on a makeup-less model. While, exposed midriffs latticed with cords and toggles came on otherwise unfussy slim silhouettes.

UKRAINE’S “GOOD SIX” DESIGNERS SHOW UNITED FRONT

Last season in Paris, the Ukrainian designers trade fair event took place just two days before Russia’s invasion amid stories of some artists fleeing the country so rapidly they had only their children and their collection in hand.

This season sees no improvement back home for the industry: It’s been battered by increased financial strains as designers try hard to maintain employed staff despite little money, a decrease in demand and ravished supply chains.

A collective of these designer-survivors is showing in Paris beginning Saturday until Oct.6.

Jen Sidary, the collective’s head, said “in my 30 years of working in the fashion industry, I have never witnessed the resilience of a country and its people as they began to focus on keeping their businesses alive, days into the war, from bomb shelters to designing new collections amidst constant air raid sirens.”

The six making up the Paris Fashion Week event — Frolov, Kachorovska, Chereshnivska, Litkovska, My Sleeping Gypsy and Oliz — are showcasing unisex apparel, footwear and scarves. It’s a bid to keep their ravaged industry alive, and form of resistance against the Russian bombs decimating their homeland.

Many of their colleagues back home in Ukraine have had to repurpose their operations to help the war effort, relocating within the country, according to Sidary.

The courage of the Ukraine fashion industry has drawn international attention.

USAID Project Manager Natalia Petrova spoke of the “remarkable resilience, commitment and awareness” of Ukrainian businesses since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Disruptions on the domestic market caused by decrease in demand by population and broken supply chains, are pushing companies to explore export opportunities to diversify their sales,” she added.

ANDREAS KRONTHALER FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

Kink mated with art in the typically quirky fare from Kronthaler — a staple show where a fashion surprise is all but expected.

With his usual encyclopedic flair, Kronthaler wove an aesthetic from yesteryear — medieval and renaissance nobles and peasants — into his drape-heavy silhouettes. Guests almost felt like they were at the theater.

Juliette sleeves mixed with black Renaissance tarbuds, decorated collars and even one wacky but stylish blue loose tuxedo look that could have been worn by the Bard himself. Of course, Kronthaler accessorized it anachronistically with pale blue striped rugby socks. Added to the creative cauldron were chunky Glam Rock boots and a Highlands kilt style with white trimming at the male model’s nether regions, making it look like they might have gotten a front bite.

The opening image of Irina Shayk, often voted among the most beautiful models in the world, in a shiny black bustier and silver-ring earrings riffing off S&M will surely be one picture few quickly forget.

ELIE SAAB REVISITS THE 60s

The late 1960s got a facelift on Saturday in a collection that featured babydoll dresses, miniskirts, psychedelia, crop-tops and jabot collars — but never lost that floaty, contemporary Saab touch.

The first look from Saab at his Paris fashion show fused a 1960s angelic-white crop top and a maxi skirt with an ethnic look, thanks to a construction of interlocking motifs. This fusion of different eras continued throughout the show, which sent out 68 items.

Lace detailing was a big theme and became the front of a baggy pale tracksuit top. In an anachronism that defined this Saab spring aesthetic, it was worn alongside a sheer 1990s’ tulle skirt. It had a great swag and could have very well been seen at a music festival in that decade.

Flashes of Barbie pink and citrus contrasted with psychedelic stripes on column silhouettes, sometimes making it feel like Saab was trying to put too much in the mix. The collection was ultimately hard to pin down.

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NIH to fund unproven ALS drugs under patient-backed law

NIH to fund unproven ALS drugs under patient-backed law

WASHINGTON — When patients with a deadly diagnosis and few treatment options have tried to get unapproved, experimental drugs, they have long faced a dilemma: Who will pay?

Responsibility for funding so-called compassionate use has always fallen to drugmakers, though many are unwilling or unable to make their drugs available for free to dying patients.

After years of lobbying Congress, patients with the debilitating illness known as Lou Gehrig’s disease have found an unprecedented solution: make the federal government pay.

Under a recent law, the National Institutes of Health will begin spending about $25 million to enroll patients in compassionate use — also called open access — programs of unapproved drugs. The first step, announced Friday, will give patients access to a sugar-based injection called trehalose, that is thought to help nerve cells clear toxic proteins.

Only patients who can’t get into conventional drug trials are eligible for the program. And their progress must be tracked to gather data about the treatment and their underlying disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

The initiative blurs the line between treatment and research, and it puts the NIH in the position of paying for unapproved drugs in studies that may yield limited data. While it offers a critical new option for ALS patients, it also raises the possibility that limited federal dollars could eventually be tapped for more unproven treatments in other diseases.

“We don’t typically expect the government to pay for things until we know they work,” said Holly Fernandez Lynch, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist. “But the system we have in this country relies on drug companies to develop our drugs, and private companies are not in the business of providing their products for free.”

Fernandez Lynch and many other experts support the new approach as an innovative solution to the challenges facing ALS patients, who typically survive three to five years after initial symptoms. The disease destroys nerve cells needed to walk, talk and — eventually — breathe.

Up to 90% of ALS patients are ineligible for traditional clinical trials, according to researchers, typically because their disease has progressed too far to show major treatment benefits. Even eligible patients must compete for access. One recent analysis counted 2,000 trial openings in the U.S. for 25,000 people living with ALS.

Patients aren’t the only beneficiaries of the NIH program. The government funding essentially replaces costs previously borne by drugmakers.

One long-time patient advocate sees a troubling precedent in that financial shift.

“My sense is that it’s the companies’ responsibility, not the taxpayers’, to pick up the cost for expanded access programs,” said Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale University researcher who has informally advised ALS patients on expanded access. “But the companies have stonewalled patients for years, so as a last resort they went to Congress.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, Gonsalves and other HIV activists were instrumental in pushing drugmakers to provide early access to experimental medications.

ALS patients say most companies in their field are tiny startups that can’t afford such costs. Drugmakers have other reasons to deny access, including concerns that unexpected safety problems could hurt their approval chances.

The NIH spends the vast majority of its $45 billion budget on early-stage research focused on identifying the root causes, treatments and potential cures for diseases.

Tracking drug safety is one key aspect of the new program, along with various biological measures of ALS. But the initiative is unlikely to detect whether the drugs are actually working, because patients won’t be compared to a placebo group, the gold-standard approach to medical research.

“Unless the drug is a miracle drug, it’s unlikely you would see efficacy in this type of research,” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The initiative is part of broader legislation pushed through Congress last year by patient advocates, including I AM ALS, a nonprofit co-founded by two former Obama White House staffers.

“I’m five years in so I can’t qualify for any clinical trials,” said Brian Wallach, who launched I AM ALS with his wife after being diagnosed in 2017. “I hope to be eligible for the expanded access pathway.”

He describes NIH’s new program as a “pilot” that will be reviewed by federal inspectors, as required by the new law.

Wallach spent several years working on the legislation with congressional staffers. It passed the House last year by a 423-3 vote, a rare display of bipartisanship that also underscored the group’s political clout.

The far-reaching bill requires the Food and Drug Administration to develop a plan to accelerate drug development and form new partnerships to study neurodegenerative diseases.

The legislation grew out of patients’ deep frustration with access to experimental therapies, including a stem cell treatment from the tiny drugmaker Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics.

After the company’s 200-patient study failed to show positive results in 2020, Brainstorm allowed a handful of patients to continue receiving injections under expanded access. But company executives said a larger program was infeasible, given that Brainstorm has no revenue.

“We used millions of dollars for our small expanded access program,” said Mary Kay Turner, a company executive. “So we did the maximum we could, but it was just a tiny sliver.”

Brainstorm plans to submit its drug for FDA approval, despite a rare public statement from the agency last year that company data “do not support the proposed clinical benefit.” That followed thousands of calls and messages to the agency from ALS patients.

While many treatments may prove ineffective, Dr. Richard Bedlack of Duke University says getting patients into expanded access programs is still preferable to the current situation, in which they often seek out untested remedies on their own.

“Historically their only option was to go on the internet and try to buy these supplements or alternative therapies,” said Bedlack, who consults for several drugmakers.

It remains to be seen how many patients the NIH will enroll under its $25 million grant. The original law called for $100 million in funding over four years. House lawmakers have budgeted $80 million in spending bills for the next fiscal year, though those have not yet passed the Senate.

For now, NIH’s Koroshetz notes that the expanded access studies will be more expensive than other NIH trials because the government is bearing the cost of making and distributing the drugs.

He conceded: “It’s a little different from our usual grants, where we don’t pay the companies at all for the drug.”

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Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP—FDAwriter

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Russia blindfolds, detains Ukraine nuclear plant chief

Russia blindfolds, detains Ukraine nuclear plant chief

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Saturday, reigniting long-simmering fears over the plant’s security.

The alleged kidnapping on Friday apparently took place shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated his war in Ukraine and pushed it into a new, dangerous phase by annexing four Ukrainian regions that Moscow fully or partially controls and heightening threats of nuclear force.

In a possible attempt to secure Moscow’s hold on the newly annexed territory, Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. Friday, the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said.

Putin on Friday signed treaties to absorb the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, including the area around the nuclear plant.

Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location.

“His detention by (Russia) jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom President Petro Kotin, demanding the director’s immediate release.

Russia did not immediately acknowledge seizing the plant director.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday that Russia told it that “the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was temporarily detained to answer questions.”

The Vienna-based IAEA said, “in line with its nuclear safety mandate,” it “has been actively seeking clarifications and hopes for a prompt and satisfactory resolution of this matter.”

The power plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian technicians continued running the power station after Russian troops seized it. Its last reactor was shut down in September as a precautionary measure as constant shelling nearby damaged electric transmission lines to the plant.

The plant is a strategic trophy for Russia and has triggered worldwide concern as the only nuclear plant caught up in modern warfare. Active fighting nearby means it’s unlikely to start producing electricity again soon even if Russia installs its own management.

It is like a town unto itself, with some 11,000 workers before the war. While many have fled amid the fighting, others have stayed to ensure the safety of its radioactive material and structures.

Energoatom spokespeople told The Associated Press on Saturday that employees of the Zaporizhzhia power plant are being forced to submit applications to report to Rosatom, Russia’s state-run nuclear energy giant that operates Russian nuclear plants.

Murashov was against handing the Zaporizhzhia plant over to Rosatom, but Energoatom’s spokespeople couldn’t confirm that this was the reason for his kidnapping.

Murashov had access to security codes, coordinated all the work at the plant, made sure protocols were being followed and reported to Kyiv, according to Energoatom’s spokespeople. Ukrainian authorities appointed him to run the plant several days before Russian troops rolled into Ukraine.

Nevertheless, Energoatom said it hasn’t lost connections with the plant and all important parameters of its work are still being reported to Kyiv.

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Karmanau reported from Tallinn, Estonia.

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Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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UK train strikes and energy hikes add to a week of turmoil

UK train strikes and energy hikes add to a week of turmoil

LONDON — Trains in Britain all but ground to a halt Saturday as coordinated strikes by rail workers added to a week of turmoil caused by soaring energy prices and unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets.

Only about 11% of train services were expected to operate across the U.K. on Saturday, according to Network Rail. Unions said they called the latest in a series of one-day strikes to demand that wage increases keep pace with inflation that is expected to peak at around 11% this month.

Consumers were also hit with a jump in their energy bills Saturday as the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes gas and electricity prices higher. Household bills are expected to rise by about 20%, even after the government stepped in to cap prices.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, who has been in office less than a month, cited the cost-of-living crisis as the reason she moved swiftly to introduce a controversial economic stimulus program, which includes 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of unfunded tax cuts.

Concern that the plans would push government debt to unsustainable levels sent the pound tumbling to a record low against the dollar this week and forced the Bank of England to intervene in the bond market.

“We need to get things done in this country more quickly,” Truss said in an unapologetic column for The Sun newspaper published Saturday. “So I am going to do things differently. It involves difficult decisions and does involve disruption in the short term.”

Many workers aren’t convinced.

Four labor unions have called three, 24-hour strikes over the next eight days, ensuring service disruptions for much of the week.

The timing is of particular concern for runners and fans trying to get to the capital for Sunday’s London Marathon, with is expected to attract 42,000 competitors.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, said the strikes were designed to target the annual conference of Truss’s Conservative Party, which begins Sunday in Birmingham, England.

“We don’t want to inconvenience the public, and we’re really sorry that that’s happening,’’ Lynch said. “But the government has brought this dispute on. They (put) the challenges down to us, to cut our jobs, to cut our pensions and to cut our wages against inflation.”

Lynch urged Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to take “urgent steps to allow a negotiated settlement.” The union said the latest figures showed railway bosses benefiting from government tax cuts.

As a result of the strike, there will be no service between London and major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle on Saturday. Lingering disruptions are likely to effect service on Sunday morning as well.

Runners and spectators traveling to London for the marathon, which begins at 9: 30 a.m., have been warned they are likely to be frustrated by the strike.

“It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon,’’ said Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group. “That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community.”

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Newsom relaxes refinery rules as California gas prices soar

Newsom relaxes refinery rules as California gas prices soar

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that oil refineries could start selling more polluting winter-blend gasoline ahead of schedule to ease soaring fuel prices, directly contradicting his own goals for reducing climate pollutants.

The average cost of a gallon of gas was $6.30 in California on Friday, far above the national average of $3.80, according to AAA. Newsom administration officials said the difference between state prices and the national average has never been larger.

The Democratic governor also called on state lawmakers to pass a new tax on oil company profits and return the money to California taxpayers. Lawmakers don’t return to the Capitol until January, Newsom’s office provided few details on the proposal.

“They’re ripping you off,” he said of the oil industry in a video posted to Twitter.

Oil industry representatives said it is state regulations that cause higher prices in California than the rest of the country. The summer blend of gasoline that refineries are required by law to produce in the hotter months costs more money to make but is designed to limit pollutants like smog. Most refineries can’t switch to the winter blend until November.

Switching from the summer to winter blend would likely save consumers 15 to 20 cents per gallon, said Doug Shupe, a spokesman for the Southern California Automobile Club, an affiliate of AAA. Gas prices in Los Angeles are close to breaking a record of $6.46 set in June, he said.

“If these prices go up to $7 a gallon, a 15-cent drop is not really going to mean much to drivers,” Shupe said.

Prices are spiking in part due to limited supply because some oil refineries are offline due to routine maintenance or other problems, he said. The California Air Resources Board, which regulates refineries, said high prices could also be due to part to a refinery fire and Hurricane Ian.

It’s the latest spat between Newsom and the oil industry, which holds political and economic sway in California despite the state’s aggressive climate policies. But Newsom’s dual actions Friday also illustrate the complicated reality Newsom faces as he tries to wean the state off oil and gas while responding to economic reality.

Earlier this year, for example, Newsom’s administration turned to generators and power plants that run on fossil fuels to help avoid rolling power blackouts during a heat wave.

By urging air regulators to let oil companies switch to a winter blend earlier, Newsom is acknowledging that state rules play a role in prices, said Kara Greene, a spokeswoman for the Western States Petroleum Association.

Refineries typically perform maintenance in the spring or fall as they prepare to switch fuel blends, she said. It will take time for refineries to prepare the winter blend, and Newsom’s order may have little immediate effect, she said. If Newsom truly wanted to lower prices, he could suspend the state’s gas tax or relax other regulations, she said.

“It’s a conscious decision to try and put the responsibility back on the oil industry,” she said.

Newsom said he expected the relaxation of refinery rules to increase supplies by 5% to 10% because refiners have already started to produce and store the gas.

“Any impacts on air quality caused by this action are expected to be minimal and outweighed by the public interest in temporarily relaxing” the limits, the air board said in a statement.

Starting in January, oil companies will be required to disclose their monthly profits to the state under legislation Newsom recently signed. Consumer Watchdog called on Newsom earlier this week to call a special legislative session to approve a tax on those profits.

Jamie Court, the group’s president, said he applauded Newsom’s efforts to deal with “an industry that’s out of control.”

Democratic leaders in the state Legislature said a windfall tax on oil profits deserves “strong consideration,” while Republicans said Newsom should immediately suspend the state gas tax to provide relief.

Major oil companies saw record profits this summer, and the price of crude oil has dropped since the end of the summer.

The California Energy Commission on Friday wrote a letter to executives of five major oil companies asking why prices rose so dramatically, what actions the state could take to lower prices and why refinery inventory levels have dropped.

Greene, of the petroleum association, said California regulations raise the price of oil by just under $1 in California, but other observers say its lower. Court, of Consumer Watchdog, says its around 60 cents, while Severin Borenstein, an energy economist with the University of California, Berkeley, says its closer to 70 cents.

Borenstein has also identified an unexplained surcharge that he says has caused Californians billions of dollars since 2015.

Newsom in 2019 directed the state attorney general to look into whether oil companies were overcharging Californians. Attorney General Rob Bonta has said his office is still investigating.

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‘Big impact’: UK economic chaos, pound plunge hit businesses

‘Big impact’: UK economic chaos, pound plunge hit businesses

LONDON — Like many small business owners in Britain, Harry Niazi hoped for government help to keep his south London fish and chip shop going in the face of rocketing energy bills and soaring inflation.

But an economic stimulus plan announced last week by Prime Minister Liz Truss’ new government brought no relief — far from it.

For Niazi and millions across the United Kingdom, things went from bad to worse after the promise of huge unfunded tax cuts sparked turmoil in financial markets and sent the British pound tumbling to a record low against the U.S. dollar this week.

“Everything’s based on the dollar — diesel for the vessels to catch the fish, trucks to deliver our products. It has a big impact,” Niazi said from his takeout shop, Olley’s Fish Experience.

The pound’s slide is hitting many businesses hard because imported materials and commodities like natural gas that are priced in dollars will be more expensive. Businesses will likely be forced to pass the costs on to consumers, which would further push up inflation — already close to a 40-year high at 9.9%.

That would worsen the squeeze on people facing yet another hike in their household energy bills Saturday, even though Truss’ plan capped a more devastating 80% rise as natural gas prices soar.

“I’m terrified of putting my prices up. We have a good volume of customers coming in, we don’t want to lose them, but every day something goes up in price. I don’t know how we’re going to cope,” Niazi said.

The haddock, cod and other white fish he imports are priced in dollars, and that cost had already surged since July, when Britain’s government imposed a 35% tariff on Russian seafood imports as part of sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Niazi’s concerns about the sliding pound are echoed by other businesspeople like Sanjay Aggarwal, co-founder of Spice Kitchen. The Liverpool-based company sells Indian spice mix gift sets packaged in steel tins from Indian manufacturers.

Tins and shipping — his business’s two biggest costs — are both priced in dollars.

Aggarwal said he’s already been forced to hike his prices this year because of rising steel prices. Shipping costs, too, have spiraled since bottoming out amid the depths of the coronavirus pandemic. The cost to ship a container from India to Britain has quadrupled since 2020 to about $8,000 to $9,000, he said.

His latest shipment is already en route in time for Christmas, but he’s bracing for a price shock when he has to place his next order.

“We are affected because we’re playing on a global scale,” said Aggarwal. “So any future orders we now place, it’s going to cost us 20% more.”

Beyond Britain, the dollar has hammered many other world currencies, fueled by the U.S. economy performing better than others and aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate hikes drawing investors. The dollar’s strength also has pushed the euro below parity and sent China’s yuan to a 14-year low. The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, has surged 18% this year.

Britain’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association warned that the falling pound is “set to raise prices for consumers and threaten hundreds of British jobs in bottling plants across the U.K.”

The trade group said a fifth of all bulk wine imported to the U.K. for bottling comes from the United States.

Miles Beale, the group’s chief executive, said that although the government’s measures included “laudable” plans to freeze alcohol duties, “the pound tanking against the dollar has both usurped them and delivered a significant blow for U.K. wine businesses and consumers.”

The mood of uncertainty has heightened since the government unveiled a plan to cut 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) in taxes but no details on spending reductions, meaning they will be funding by public borrowing. Officials also want to spend billions more to subsidize steeply climbing energy bills for people and businesses.

The plans were met with widespread concern from economists and investors about ballooning government debt, and the International Monetary Fund warned that the moves could worsen inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

The Bank of England has so far refrained from an emergency interest rate hike to offset the inflationary impact of the slide in the pound, but many expect the central bank to sharply raise rates soon.

That has sparked panic among many homeowners used to interest rates that have stayed low, at around 2%, for years. A sudden sharp rise in borrowing costs will make mortgages unaffordable for many.

Dee Corsi, chief executive of the New West End Company, a group representing hundreds of shops, hotels and restaurants in London’s famous Oxford Street shopping district, said she is certain those worries will loom large for consumers.

“We may benefit in the short term with a boost of tourists, especially from the U.S.” because of the weaker pound, Corsi said.

“But in the long term, the lower pound will push up the cost of all imports for business,” she added. “And with the cost-of-living crisis — we can’t not talk about that — and with mortgages going up, I absolutely think people will be more cautious with their spending.”

For some business owners, the Conservative Party’s divisive economic plan might be alienating them in other ways, too.

Niazi, the fish and chip shop owner, is a Conservative Party voter but said he is disappointed in the government and “most probably” would not back the party in the next election.

“I don’t know anything about running the country, but I know what the government is doing is hurting everybody,” he said.

“It’s not working, something’s gone wrong,” he added. “They need to fix it.”

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India raises interest rate to 5.90% to tame inflation

India’s central bank has raised its key interest rate to 5.90% and said developing economy were facing slowing growth, elevated food and energy prices, debt distress and currency depreciation

NEW DELHI — India’s central bank on Friday raised its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 5.90% in its fourth hike this year and said developing economies were facing challenges of slowing growth, elevated food and energy prices, debt distress and currency depreciation.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das projected inflation at 6.7% in the current fiscal year which runs to next March. June was the sixth consecutive month with inflation above the central bank’s tolerance level of 6%, he said in a statement after a meeting of the bank’s monitoring committee.

He said the central bank will remain focused on the withdrawal of the accommodative monetary policy.

The bank’s monetary committee slashed the real economic growth forecast to 7% for the current financial year from 7.2% forecast in August. The economic growth for the first quarter of the next financial year is expected around 6.7%.

Das said the world has been confronted with one crisis after another, but India has withstood shocks from the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.

Das also said the Indian rupee has depreciated by 4% since April against 14% appreciation in the U.S. dollar. “The rupee has fared better than many other currencies” and the Reserve Bank Of India’s foreign exchange reserves umbrella remains strong, he said.

The Indian rupee has plunged to an all-time low of 81.58 rupees to one U.S. dollar.

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Japan to pay up to $320M for US company’s chip production

Japan to pay up to $320M for US company’s chip production

TOKYO — Japan is providing a major U.S. chipmaker a subsidy of up to 46.6 billion yen ($322 million) to support its plan to produce advanced memory chips at a Hiroshima factory, the Japanese trade minister said Friday.

The announcement to subsidize Micron Technology comes on the heels of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit in Japan as the two countries step up cooperation on expanding manufacturing and supply chains for critical materials.

“I hope the deal will contribute to further expansion of cooperation between Japan and the United States in the area of semiconductors,” Japan’s Economy and Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

He said the government approved the deal Friday under a law related to economic security.

During her trip to Asia this week, Harris met with Japanese officials and semiconductor company executives to seek greater cooperation in strengthening semiconductor development and production amid China’s growing influence.

Micron was among the companies that participated in the meeting with Harris, along with Tokyo Electron, Nikon, Hitachi High-Tech Group, Fujitsu Ltd.

The United States is working to solidify its technology cooperation with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, while trying to increase its domestic semiconductor manufacturing, amid China’s own investment in computer chips.

Nishimura has stressed the U.S.-Japan alliance on semiconductors, as well as energy and other areas.

Japan was once a world leader in computer chip manufacturing, but its status has eroded over the last two decades, and the country is increasingly worried about falling behind.

Japan has set up its own fund to support semiconductor production. Out of $4.3 billion, $3.3 billion is being provided in subsidies for a new factory in Japan’s southern prefecture of Kumamoto.

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China manufacturing weak, adding to economy pressure

China manufacturing weak, adding to economy pressure

BEIJING — Growth in Chinese factory activity was weak in September, export orders fell and employers cut jobs, two surveys showed Friday, adding to pressure on lackluster economic growth.

A monthly purchasing managers’ index released by business news magazine Caixin fell to 48.1 from August’s 49.5 on a 100-point scale in which readings below 50 indicate activity contracting. A separate PMI by an official industry group rose to 50.1 from 49.4.

“The surveys suggest that China‘s economy continued to lose momentum,” Zichun Huang of Capital Economics said in a report.

That adds to complications for Chinese leaders who are trying to reverse an economic slump after growth fell to 2.2% in the first six months of 2022, less than half the 5.5% official target.

Those efforts have been hampered by weak global and Chinese consumer demand and a slump in real estate activity caused by an official crackdown on the industry’s use of debt.

Caixin’s index of new export orders fell to a four-month low of 48.1 from 49.8 and the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said its separate index declined to 47 from 48.1. Both said measures of employment were in negative territory, showing companies cut jobs.

“We think the economy will remain weak heading into 2023,” Huang said.

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Asian stocks sink on German inflation, British tax cuts

Asian stocks sink on German inflation, British tax cuts

NEW YORK — Wall Street closed out a miserable September on Friday with the S&P 500’s worst monthly skid since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets.

The benchmark index ended the month with a 9.3% loss and posted its third straight losing quarter. It’s now at its lowest level since November 2020 and is down by more than a quarter since the start of the year.

The main reason financial markets continue to struggle is fear about a possible recession, as interest rates soar in hopes of beating down the high inflation that’s swept the world.

“Quite frankly, if it’s a deep recession you’re going to have to see more of a sell-off,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial. “This is what the market is trying to navigate now.”

The Federal Reserve has been at the forefront of the global campaign to slow economic growth and hurt job markets just enough to undercut inflation but not so much that it causes a recession. On Friday, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed it was worse last month than economists expected. That should keep the Fed on track to keep hiking rates and hold them at high levels a while, raising the risk of it going too far and causing a downturn.

Vice Chair Lael Brainard was the latest Fed official on Friday to insist it won’t pull back on rates prematurely.

“At this point, it’s not a matter of if we’ll have a recession, but what type of recession it will be,” said Sean Sun, portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management.

All told, the S&P 500 fell 54.85 points, or 1.5%, to close at 3,585.62 Friday, after flipping between small losses and gains in the early going. It has now posted a weekly loss in six out of the last seven weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 500.10 points, or 1.7%, to 28,725.51. The Nasdaq composite slid 161.89 points, or 1.5%, to 10,575.62. The tech-heavy index sank 10.5% in September and is down 32.4% so far this year.

Smaller company stocks also had a rough September. The Russell 2000 ended the month down 9.7%. On Friday, it lost 10.21 points, or 0.6%, to 1,664.72.

Higher interest rates knock down one of the main levers that set prices for stocks. The other lever also looks to be under threat as the slowing economy, high interest rates and other factors weigh on corporate profits.

Cruise ship operator Carnival dropped 23.3% for the biggest decline among S&P 500 stocks after it reported a bigger loss for its latest quarter than analysts expected and revenue that fell short of expectations. Rivals Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Group slid 18% and 13.2%, respectively.

Nike slumped 12.8%, its worst day in more than 20 years, after it said its profitability weakened during the summer because of discounts needed to clear suddenly overstuffed warehouses. The amount of shoes and gear in Nike’s inventories swelled by 44% from a year earlier.

This year’s powerful surge for the U.S. dollar against other currencies also hurt Nike. Its worldwide revenue rose only 4%, instead of the 10% it would have if currency values had remained the same.

Nike isn’t the only company to see its inventories balloon. So have several big-name retailers, and such bad news for businesses could actually mean some relief for shoppers if it leads to more discounts. It echoed some glimmers of encouragement buried within Friday’s report on the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation. That showed some slowing of inflation for goods, even as price gains kept accelerating for services.

Another report on Friday also offered a glimmer of hope. A measure of consumer sentiment showed U.S. expectations for future inflation came down in September. That’s crucial for the Fed because tightly held expectations for higher inflation can create a debilitating, self-reinforcing cycle that worsens it.

Treasury yields initially eased a bit on Friday, letting off some of the pressure that’s built on markets, but then turned higher by late afternoon.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.81% from 3.79% late Thursday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for Fed action, rose to 4.23% from 4.19%.

Not all stocks took a beating in September. Biogen soared 35%, but it was an outlier. FedEx was among the market’s biggest losers, ending the month 29.6% lower.

Looking at the third quarter, which included a market rally in July, Netflix was among the best performers, climbing 34.6%. It’s still down 60.9% for the year.

A long list of other worries continues to hang over global markets, including increasing tensions between much of Europe and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. A controversial plan to cut taxes by the U.K. government also sent bond markets spinning recently on fears it could make inflation even worse. Bond markets calmed a bit only after the Bank of England pledged mid-week to buy however many U.K. government bonds are needed to bring yields back down.

The stunning and swift rise of the U.S. dollar against other currencies, meanwhile, raises the risk of creating so much stress that something cracks somewhere in global markets.

Stocks around the world were mixed after a report showed that inflation in the 19 countries that use Europe’s euro currency spiked to a record and data from China said that factory activity weakened there.

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AP Business Writers Joe McDonald and Matt Ott contributed.

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