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TALKING POINTS

Stories you may have missed from the world of business

CANNABIS

Layoffs abound but pot still looks to be a growth industry

Despite a rash of layoffs in the cannabis industry, it’s one of the fastest-growing sources of jobs. The sector employed 243,700 people at the beginning of 2020, up 15 percent from a year earlier and nearly double the number in 2017, according to data from the cannabis information firm Leafly. “There’s been a lot of headlines in the last three to four months about some of the bigger companies in the cannabis industry suffering layoffs and investment capital drying up,” but the industry is still a “quiet engine of growth,” senior editor Bruce Barcott said. The data indicate the industry is still very much in expansion mode, though cannabis stock prices have slumped over the past year and funding options have dwindled, forcing some companies to eliminate jobs. But with jurisdictions like Illinois launching recreational sales and more states preparing to legalize, there’s optimism the US industry will continue to grow rapidly. “Our outlook for 2020 would be growth somewhat similar to 2019,” Barcott said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

AVIATION

Airbus may buy Bombardier’s stake in A220 jet program

Airbus SE is in talks to buy out Bombardier Inc.’s stake in the A220 jetliner program, said people familiar with the matter. The negotiations are at an advanced stage, they said, and a deal could be announced as early as this week. Both companies are scheduled to report earnings Thursday. Bombardier invested more than $6 billion in the A220’s development before ceding control of the program to Airbus in 2018 as it struggled to sell the single-aisle plane. Bombardier is obligated to pay as much as $350 million through 2021 to fund cash shortfalls, according to the partnership agreement. Airbus declined to comment. Bombardier couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Thee discussions were reported by The Wall Street Journal; Bombardier’s shares then jumped as much as 4.5 percnt on Friday, reversing earlier losses.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INTERNATIONAL

Pompeo warns pension funds not to play into China’s hands

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a speech at the National Governors Association’s winter meeting in Washington warned that China is looking for ways to exploit US vulnerabilities as it expands repression at home. He said Florida’s retirement system has invested in a company that in turn invested in surveillance gear used to track more than a million Muslim minorities. China’s ambassador, Cui Tiankai, said on Sunday that Pompeo’s comments were “totally wrong.” Pompeo also said California’s pension fund, the country’s largest, “is invested in companies that supply the People’s Liberation Army,” without offering details. “That puts our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at risk,” he said. China, with the world’s second-largest economy, is further embracing repression under President Xi Jinping, Pompeo said. “Competition with China is happening inside of your state, and it affects our capacity to perform America’s vital national security functions,” he told the governors. “I’m asking you to adopt a cautious mindset,” Pompeo said. “In the words of President Reagan, when you are approached for introduction or a connection to a deal, ‘Trust but verify.’ ” Pompeo also said a lack of transparency is an issue for US investors in China. “Their books are not wide open, so it’s difficult to know if the transaction that’s being engaged in is transparent and fair and follows the rule of law,” he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ENERGY

gasoline price falls 7 cents per gallon, to $2.53

The average price of regular-grade gasoline dropped 7 cents per gallon to $2.53 over the past two weeks. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that gas prices responded to falling crude oil costs. The price at the pump is 19 cents higher, on average, than it was a year ago. The highest average price in the nation for regular-grade gas is $3.54 per gallon, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest is $2.04 in Baton Rouge, La. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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MARKETS

Plan to resize Japan’s stock index falls short, Goldman says

Japan’s overhaul of its equity market may cut the benchmark gauge by 450 to 550 companies, but that won’t be enough for investors, Goldman Sachs Group says. “They have undeniably fallen short of investors’ initial expectations, especially regarding hopes for a more streamlined Topix,” Goldman strategist Kazunori Tatebe said. “We’d hoped the number of stocks could be cut down by quite a bit.” Market participants have long criticized the Topix for being bloated with too many illiquid companies. It currently has 2,156 stocks, many of which are hard to trade. The equity market face lift is expected to take place in 2022. In December, the Financial Services Agency, the market regulator, said it was considering another standard under which, according to Goldman’s estimates, up to 550 companies could be excluded. The plan isn’t set in stone; measures still under consideration could further reduce the number of companies. The announced guidelines for the Topix revamp are “weaker than thought,” said Atsushi Kamio, at the Daiwa Institute of Research. “I would’ve hoped the rules would be stricter,” he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS