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Business Highlights

March 20, 2019

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Federal Reserve foresees no interest rate hikes in 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged and projected no rate hikes in 2019, dramatically underscoring its plan to be “patient” about any further increases. The Fed said it was keeping its benchmark rate — which can influence everything from mortgages to credit cards to home equity lines of credit — in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. It also announced that it will stop shrinking its bond portfolio in September, a step that should help hold down long-term interest rates.

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UK’s May asks a wary EU to delay Brexit until June 30

LONDON (AP) — Exactly 1,000 days after Britain voted to leave the European Union, and nine days before it is scheduled to walk out the door, Prime Minister Theresa May has hit the pause button, asking the bloc to postpone the U.K.’s departure until June 30. EU leaders, who are exasperated by Britain’s Brexit melodrama, said they would only grant the extension if May could win Parliament’s approval for her twice-rejected Brexit deal.

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EU fines Google $1.7 billion for abusing online ads market

BRUSSELS (AP) — Europe’s antitrust regulators have slapped Google with a big fine for the third time in less than two years. They have ordered the tech giant to pay 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for freezing out rivals in the online advertising business. Google says it has already changed its practices..

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Survey: Top CEOs report weaker economic outlook for 1Q

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. CEOs are reporting that their economic outlook weakened in the first three months of the year, although it remains above its historical average. The Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization of major companies’ chief executives, also said its first-quarter survey of CEOs showed strong support for Congress to create a new national law governing consumer data privacy.

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Disney closes $71B deal for Fox entertainment assets

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney’s $71 billion purchase of Fox’s entertainment business paves the way for Disney to launch its own streaming service, Disney Plus, this year. Disney needs compelling TV shows and movies to persuade viewers to sign up and pay for yet another streaming service. It already has classic Disney cartoons, “Star Wars,” Pixar, the Muppets and some of the Marvel characters. With Fox, Disney gets “The Simpsons” and Marvel’s X-Men and Deadpool.

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Pentagon to probe if Shanahan used office to help Boeing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon’s inspector general says it will investigate a watchdog group’s allegations that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has used his office to promote his former employer, Boeing Co. The ethics complaint was filed a week ago by a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The probe comes as Boeing struggles to deal with a public firestorm over two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner within the last five months.

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US judge blocks oil, gas drilling over climate change

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A judge has blocked oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles in Wyoming and says the government must consider cumulative climate change impacts of leasing public lands across the U.S. for energy development The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade faulting the government’s consideration of emissions when issuing energy leases. But U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras appeared to go further, saying the U.S. must consider emissions nationwide.

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Trump says tariffs on China could stay to ensure compliance

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says if the U.S. gets a trade deal with China, tariffs could stay in place for some time to ensure that Beijing “lives by the deal.” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday that “they’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals.” The president said administration officials are set to visit China for more negotiations, adding that the deal is “coming along nicely.”

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$800K Wells Fargo penalty OK’d in Schilling video game deal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement for Wells Fargo Securities to pay an $800,000 civil penalty to end a lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over Rhode Island’s failed $75 million deal with former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios. A lawyer for a Wells Fargo employee who is the final defendant says he plans to fight the claims against him.

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Fed news sends bond yields sharply lower; US stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks led U.S. stocks mostly lower Wednesday after a brief rally sparked by the Federal Reserve’s latest policy update faded. The real action centered in the bond market, where prices rose sharply, pulling Treasury yields down to the lowest levels in more than a year. The central bank said it has ruled out interest rate increases this year and issued a dimmer outlook on the U.S. economy. The 10-year Treasury yield slid as low as 2.53 percent, down from 2.61 percent late Tuesday, a big move.

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The S&P 500 dropped 8.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,824.23. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 141.71 points, or 0.5 percent, to 25,745.67. The Nasdaq composite eked out a slight gain, adding 5.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,728.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 11.83 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,543.16.