Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig on Tuesday with visits to temples, family banquets and the world's biggest travel spree. Celebrations took place throughout the region, from Beijing and Seoul to Hanoi and Singapore. The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year's biggest family holiday. [image_gallery] Families gathered at home for multigenerational banquets. Companies, shops and government offices closed for official holidays that ranged from two days in South Korea to a week in China. ___ Worshippers stood in line for hours at Hong Kong's Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the new year by lighting incense. Lana Wong, a prominent Hong Kong actress, wore a pig costume for the event. "My first wish is for world peace," said Wong, 88. "Everyone has food to eat, employment and houses to live in. The elderly also hope the government will take better care of them." ___ In Beijing, performers in traditional Qing dynasty robes strummed zithers for a re-enactment at sunrise of a sacrificial ceremony at the Chinese capital's Temple of Earth park. An actor portraying an emperor bowed before an altar as dozens of people in ceremonial dress behind him. Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the British cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig. "My wishes for new year are a promotion, a raise and finding a boyfriend," said a spectator, Cui Di, a 28-year-old employee of a foreign company. ___ The holiday in mainland China is marked by the biggest annual travel boom as hundreds of millions of people visit their home towns or travel abroad. The railway ministry forecast mainland travelers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday. ___ Chinese set off billions of fireworks to celebrate the new year. An explosion at an illegal fireworks shop in southern China killed five people early Tuesday. Investigators said it was triggered by fireworks set off by the shopkeeper outside the shop. ___ In Bangkok, people lit incense sticks and burned paper money and other symbolic offerings for deceased relatives despite government appeals to avoid contributing to smog. Some shopkeepers sold symbolic ballots to burn as offerings following official promises of an election this year, the first after four years of military rule. ___ In the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, visitors left bouquets of flowers at statues of former leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il.

Actress Lea Seydoux, from left, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, actors Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch pose for photographers during the photo call of the latest installment of the James Bond film franchise, currently known as 'Bond 25', in Oracabessa, Jamaica, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Leo Hudson)

The 25th James Bond movie and Daniel Craig's fifth and final installment as 007 is heading home to Jamaica. Craig, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and director Cary Fukunaga on Thursday launched the film from the Caribbean island nation where Ian Fleming wrote all of his Bond novels. The still untitled movie will be partly set in Jamaica, which was also a setting in "Dr. No" and "Live and Let Die." Rami Malek, fresh off his Oscar win for "Bohemian Rhapsody," is joining the cast as the villain. In a videotaped message, Malek said he'll make sure Bond "will not have an easy ride of it" in Bond 25. Craig has said this will be his final turn in the tuxedo. When the 51-year-old actor first confirmed his return for Bond 25, he said: "I just want to go out on a high note." But Broccoli and Wilson, in an interview by phone from Jamaica, said they aren't ready to contemplate a new 007 yet. "We're very happy with the Bond we have in Daniel Craig. He's just been phenomenal in the role," said Broccoli. "I really just don't want to even think about if and when we have to replace him. We're excited to have him back and thrilled he decided to come back. We're just going to set about trying to make the best Bond film ever and not think about the future." The movie finds Bond out of active service and enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. That changes when his CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) turns up asking for help. Their mission is to rescue a kidnapped scientist. Aside from Jamaica, filming locations include Italy, Norway and London, with studio production based at Pinewood Studios outside London. Returning cast members include Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris. Production will begin Sunday. Bond films have usually been announced in Britain but this time, the cast and filmmakers flocked to Fleming's Goldeneye villa in Jamaica for a livestreamed announcement. Delays and disagreement have made for an especially long break between Bond films. The last one, "Spectre," came out in 2015, when it made more than $880 million worldwide in ticket sales. Part of that was caused by a directing change. Danny Boyle was initially set to helm the film, but he departed last year over creative differences. Broccoli and Wilson declined to address rumors that the split was over Boyle's reported plans to kill Bond at the end of the film. "It was sort of a mutual agreement that the collaboration just wasn't working out," said Broccoli. "So we parted very amicably and we're looking very much forward to his next film ('Yesterday') which is coming out soon." The script is written by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, along with regular Steven Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum") and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the British actress-writer of the series "Killing Eve" and "Fleabag." Waller-Bridge, whom producers said was brought aboard by Craig, is just the second woman to ever write a Bond film. More than 50 years ago, Johanna Harwood co-wrote "Dr. No" and received a story credit for "From Russia With Love." Bond 25 is due out April 8, 2020.

TheAntigua and Barbuda Medicinal Cannabis Authority is now in force. Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced via Facebook that the council cameinto force pursuant to the Cannabis Act, 2018. The Antigua and Barbuda Medicinal Cannabis Authority is responsible for regulating and controlling the licensing of the cultivation, manufacture, processing, extraction, import, export, testing, research, distribution, and sale of medicinal cannabis and cannabis for sacramental purposes. He said applications made to the Board of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority must be in the prescribed form outlined in the Cannabis Regulations, 2019 and submitted via scanned electronic copy emailed to and submitted in hard copy to the Secretary of the Board at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Government Complex, Parliament Drive. Application forms for licences may be obtained from the Government Printery for a fee of $10.00XCD per form. Appointed members of the Cannabis Authority are: 1. Solicitor General - Mr. Martin Camacho, Chairperson 2. Comptroller of Customs - Mr. Raju Boddu, Deputy Chairperson 3. Chief Medical Officer - Dr. Rhonda Sealey-Thomas 4. Director of Analytical Services - Dr. Linroy Christian 5. Representative of the Rastafarian Community - Mr. Franki Francis 6. Representative from the Substance Abuse Prevention Unit - Mrs. Feona Charles-Richards 7. Deputy Commissioner of Police - Mr. Albert Wade 8. Representative of the Pharmacy Council - Mr. Algernon Roberts 9. Director of Agriculture - Mr. Jeddidiah Maxime 10. Crown Counsel - Ms. Jeniece St. Romain, Secretary

FILE - In this April 18, 2019, file photo traders Michael Urkonis, left, and Gregory Rowe, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 25. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

U.S. stock indexes held close to their record highs Thursday as blowout results from Facebook and Microsoft offset a sharp slump for industrial companies following earnings reports that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Communications and technology sectors helped lead the market higher, as they have all year. This week the S&P 500 index returned to a record high on expectations that those companies can continue to deliver strong growth despite a slowing global economy. Many are delivering. Revenue jumped 14% for Microsoft and 26% for Facebook from a year ago. Earnings reporting season is more than a third of the way in, and investors are searching for clues about whether profit growth can accelerate later this year following a weak first quarter. The stock market has had a furious rally this year, largely because the Federal Reserve has said that it is halting its plan to raise interest rates, at least temporarily. Industrial stocks were on the losing side after 3M, the maker of Scotch tape and various products for businesses, reported lower revenue and profit for the first three months of the year than Wall Street expected. It also slashed its profit forecast for the full year. United Parcel Service said its net income fell 17% on nearly flat revenue, and Illinois Tool Works had weaker revenue than analysts forecast. Rockwell Automation said that automotive related sales were less than it expected last quarter. They all helped drag industrial stocks to the sharpest loss by far among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500, and 3M's loss dealt a particularly big blow to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 0.2% as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 98 points, or 0.4%, to 26,499, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4%. EARNINGS WINS: Facebook surged 6.1% following its earnings report, and it helped communications companies in the S&P 500 jump 1.2% for the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Microsoft rose 3.8%, and technology stocks in the S&P 500 were down 0.1% after being up as much as 0.8% earlier in the day. EARNINGS WOES: 3M plunged 11%, UPS lost 7.9%, Illinois Tool Works fell 3.3% and Rockwell Automation sank 6.3% following their earnings reports. Raytheon, a defense contractor that is also in the industrial sector, sank 5.1%. It reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than expected, but analysts noted some mixed results for its profit margins. Altogether, the companies helped drag industrial stocks in the S&P 500 down by 1.9%. GRAND PROBLEMS: Chipotle Mexican Grill sank 6.3% after it said that it received a new subpoena requesting information related to illnesses associated with restaurants in Simi Valley, California, Boston and elsewhere. It had already disclosed receiving a federal grand jury subpoena from the U.S. District Court for the central district of California in 2016. The new subpoena requests information about an additional restaurant, in Powell, Ohio. The company said it has fully cooperated in the investigation. THE POWER OF LOW EXPECTATIONS: Coming into this earnings reporting season, Wall Street was expecting a dud. Partially because of slowing economic growth around the world, analysts were forecasting the first drop in earnings for the S&P 500 in nearly three years. Companies, though, have been surprising analysts with not-as-bad results. So far, about 190 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their earnings for the first three months of the year. Among them, earnings actually grew 2.1% from a year earlier. All the better-than-expected results mean analysts are now forecasting a drop of 2.8% in earnings for S&P 500 companies this reporting season. That's not as bad as the 4% decline they were expecting a few weeks ago. MARKETS ABROAD: European stocks struggled following news that two potential mergers won't be going ahead. In the U.K., regulators blocked Sainsbury's 7.3 billion-pound ($9.4 billion) purchase of Walmart's Asda unit amid concerns the deal would have increased prices and reduced the quality and range of products available. And in Germany, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank said they were halting talks on a possible merger that aimed to create a stronger global banking player, saying it would be too risky and costly. Germany's DAX slipped 0.3%, Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.6% and France's CAC 40 index fell 0.5%. In China, the Shanghai market dropped 2.4% amid signs the country's central bank plans to avoid major stimulus moves amid signs the economy is stabilizing. State media reported that the People's Bank of China's latest injection of liquidity showed the use of target support rather than what the Xinhua News Agency described as a "scattergun approach." In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.5%, and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5%.

Boeing is pulling its 2019 forecast over 737 Max uncertainty and says it's suspending its stock buybacks. The aerospace giant also provided first quarter results on Wednesday that beat Wall Street's estimates. Boeing Co. said its previously issued full-year guidance didn't account for 737 Max impacts. It plans to issue a new guidance at a future date. Investors and consumers have been keeping a close eye on Boeing due to two deadly crashes involving the 737 Max. The two crashes have damaged the company's reputation for safety, caused the worldwide grounding of about 370 Boeing 737 Max airliners, and raised questions about the U.S. government's approval of the plane in 2017. Boeing posted an adjusted profit of $3.16 per share on revenue of $22.92 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Boeing to report adjusted earnings of $3.19 per share on revenue of $22.94 billion. Both of those figures have come down considerably in the past month. The company provided few clues about the fate of its best-selling plane and when it might fly again. It said Wednesday it is making steady progress on the path to final certification for a software update for the 737 MAX, with over 135 test and production flights of the software update complete. The company said it continues to work closely with global regulators and our airline partners to comprehensively test the software and finalize a robust package of training and educational resources. Boeing hit its numbers, but that is secondary to two crashes. Investigations into crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia have implicated an automated flight-control system that erroneously pushed the noses of the planes down in response to bad readings from sensors. Boeing began working on a software update to the system more than five months ago. When the market closed Tuesday, Boeing Co. shares stood 4% higher than before the October crash of a 737 Max operated by Indonesia's Lion Air. After a slump, they skyrocketed from late December until early March when another 737 Max crashed, this one operated by Ethiopian Airlines. Analysts treated the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia as a one-time event and noted confidently that Boeing was working on a software fix. Even with a mild sell-off since the March crash, the shares are still up 16% in 2019, barely trailing the 17% gain in the Standard and Poor's 500. In premarket trading, the stock edged up less than 1%. Investors believe the market for jetliners will remain strong for many years and airlines don't have much choice for big planes — Boeing and Airbus form a duopoly, and both have huge order backlogs. CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company has conducted 120 test flights of the upgraded software, and only needs a final certification flight with FAA personnel on board. That flight is expected any day. Last week, an expert panel of the Federal Aviation Administration judged that a software fix to the Max would be "operationally suitable," and that airline pilots familiar with previous versions of the 737 won't need additional time in flight simulators to learn about the new software that is unique to the Max. Jim Corridore, an airline analyst for CFRA Research, said that while Boeing still has much work to do, the FAA panel's determination "shows that the return of the plane to flying is now a 'when' question rather than 'if' ... we remain firm in our view that Boeing will survive this with its order book largely intact." Some analysts do see long-term risks to Boeing, however. The company has temporarily cut production of 737s, which means cash will be delayed until deliveries of new planes resume. It also faces a growing list of lawsuits by families and shareholders. Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak is surprised that investors seem to expect a "relatively benign" outcome of the Max saga. Airbus could raise production, Poponak wrote in a recent note to clients, and the flying public, airlines and several countries are viewing the Max with more caution. "We see a risk that lasts in the order book moving forward over the next few years," he said.

Do you like the sound of an afternoon of high tea, fashion and auctions, all in the name of charity? If this sounds like your perfect day then keep May 11 free - as The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre is partnering with Mothers’ Union to host the Union's annualfundraising event, Raise your Teacup. This event is an annual calendar fixture for Mothers’ Union of StGeorge's Anglican Church, a non-profit ministry whose objective is to advance the Christian faith and Christian Family Lifewithin the Cayman community. But this yearthe Tea Party, usually held at the church, will be expanded in partnership with the CICC, in an effort by the Mothers’ Union to support the Centre's fundraising initiatives. And itwill be held on Saturday May 11between 3-6pm at The Westin hotel. The CICC provides safe shelter and support for a victims of domestic violence and their children and as such, allproceeds from this event will be used to fund itsRaise the Roof project of building a new shelter for the victims of domestic violence. “The Mothers’ Union ministry fully supports the incredible work that the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre does, which is very much aligned with our own objectives to support and nurture the community. "We felt strongly that our annual Tea Party event was a great way to partner with CICC and help raise more money for their ‘Raise the Roof’ initiative. We hope to partner on more initiatives in the future for the benefit of Cayman,” said Karen Williams, Mothers’ Union Enrolling Member. The event will include an afternoon of high tea, fashion show and live and silent auctions. The Governor’s wife, Mrs Elizabeth Roperwill also be in attendance as a special guest. “We are extremely grateful for this generous opportunity to co-host the Mothers’ Union annual Tea Party event for the benefit of our important fundraising project, ‘Raise the Roof’. "The ‘Raise Your Teacup’ event will significantly help us reach our goal to build a new shelter for the number of domestic violence victims that rely on us for care and support,” said Michelle Lockwood, CICC Board Member and Chair of Fundraising Committee. Tickets for the ‘Raise Your Teacup’ event are $50 per person, or $500 for a table of 10, and can be boughtonline through For other sponsorship opportunities or to support the work of the CICC, please email

The Circle of Love's planned events for May's Child Month just received a boost thanks to a $2,000 government donation. The Ministry of Community Affairs’ Chief Officer, Teresa Echenique presented acheque to the Circle of Love Women’s Ministry Chairperson,Julie Hunter recently. The donation, made in the presence of Department of Children and Family ServicesDirector, Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, will offset the cost of staging COL’s May Child Month Breakfast. A slew of Child Month activities will be coordinated across all three islands by DCFS department under the theme: 'Be Strong! Be Brave! Be You!' Next month’s Circle of Love event will feature themed entertainment, speeches, readings and skits. Traditionally, the event is attended by school children, parents, teachers and representatives from several of Grand Cayman’s most prominent child-centered agencies to celebrate children and child welfare. Commenting on her Ministry’s donation, Ms Echenique said: “As we prepare for another full month of activities in May for Child Month, it is our pleasure to once again partner with the Circle of Love Ministry. “It is through such community support and collaboration that we are able to recognised, encourage and uplift our children. On behalf of the Ministry of Community Affairs and the Department of Children and Family Services, we extend our gratitude and appreciation to the Circle of Love Ministry and look forward to what is sure to be another amazing breakfast in May."