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This Week in Business: Toyota, Global Stocks, and More

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China Fines Toyota 87.6M Yuan

China fined Japanese carmaker Toyota 87.6M yuan ($12.5M) for price-fixing its Lexus brand cars. China’s anti-monopoly bureau of State Administration for Market Regulation said that between 2015 and 2018, the Japanese carmaker set a minimum sales and resale price for its cars in coastal Jiangsu province. This then deprived dealers of pricing autonomy and harmed customers’ rights.

A spokesperson for Toyota said that the company respects the decision. They did not comment further on the matter. The decision to fine Toyota comes as China is increasing regulations on auto sales in the world’s biggest market. In addition, its auto sales are declining, while Lexus’ sales are increasing.

Global Stocks End Year Near Record Highs

The US dollar fell to a six-month low as progress on U.S.-China trade tensions led investors to higher-risk assets on Tuesday. In addition, a year-end rally that raised global equity markets to record highs chugged on on the last trading day of 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump said the Phase 1 trade pact with China would be signed on Jan. 15 at the White House. However, confusion remains about details of the agreement.

The breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks and a British election earlier in December pointing to a smoother exit from the European Union have raised investors’ spirits. However, the outlook for equities next year is not as buoyant, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

Uber, Postmates Sue To Block California Worker Law

Uber and Postmates asked a US court to block a new California labor law, arguing the law is unconstitutional. The law, which makes it harder for companies like them to qualify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, was “irrational, vague, and incoherent”.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill in September. The law has gained national attention, as California usually heads the nation in establishing policies. “It irreparably harms network companies and app-based independent service providers by denying their constitutional rights to be treated the same as others to whom they are similarly situated,” the lawsuit said.

J.P. Morgan Attempts Full Control Of China Futures

J.P.Morgan is seeking 100% ownership of its futures joint venture in China. Currently, China’s futures industry is dominated by local companies. A filing to the China Securities Regulatory Commission dated Dec. 25 showed that J.P. Morgan applied to make a change of more than 5% in its shareholding structure. It did not give more detail. In addition, a spokesperson for J.P. Morgan was unavailable for comment.

Sinochem Unit Gets $1.65Bn Investment

Sinochem Energy, a unit of China’s Sinochem Group, agreed to sell a 20% stake to five firms for 11.56 billion yuan ($1.65 billion). The unit runs the group’s futures products trading, refining, storage, and logistics. It also handles distribution and retail businesses, but not its struggling upstream business that includes overseas oil and gas production.

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