Business Highlights

February 27, 2018


Powell’s bullish outlook on US economy rattles markets

WASHINGTON (AP) — New Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivered a message Tuesday that wasn’t quite what Wall Street had hoped for: The U.S. economy is doing well, maybe even better than he thought late last year. His growing optimism about the economy rattled investors. Treasury yields climbed and stocks fell amid fresh speculation that the Fed would accelerate the pace of hikes in its benchmark policy rate this year.


Companies face mounting pressure to pick sides in gun debate

NEW YORK (AP) — As the gun debate heats up following the massacre at a Florida high school, companies are under growing pressure to pick a side: whether to stand by the National Rifle Association or walk away. A boycott movement has prompted several companies to cut benefit discount ties with the NRA, while others are maintaining their deals. The decision to stay or go for many companies involves walking a fine line that can impact their image for better or worse.


Macy’s tops expectations, optimistic outlook sends shares up

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s broke out of its sales funk, reporting a healthy sales gain at existing stores for the holiday period as it benefited from an improving economy and its own initiatives like an overhauled customer loyalty program. The department store chain also reported fourth-quarter earnings that nearly tripled from a year earlier, boosted by the sale of some real estate assets. It also issued an upbeat outlook.


Challenge to Murdoch: US giant Comcast also bids for Sky

LONDON (AP) — Comcast, the owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, has launched a bid for Sky, a pay TV broadcaster with operations across Europe. The 22.1 billion pound ($29.50 billion) offer threatens to thwart the ambitions of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose 21st Century Fox has also bid for Sky. It could also complicate a takeover offer by Disney for Fox.


Jane Walker to replace Johnnie Walker on some scotch bottles

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not the alcohol playing tricks on your eyes: The striding figure on some bottles of Johnnie Walker will be Jane Walker. Liquor maker Diageo says it plans to roll out bottles next month for a limited run. The company says it’s the first time in the brand’s nearly 200-year history that its logo has been depicted as a woman.


Cheers, protests as German court lets cities ban diesel cars

BERLIN (AP) — In the country where the diesel engine was invented, a German court has ruled that cities can ban diesel cars and trucks to combat air pollution. The ruling has far-reaching and costly implications, and cities across Europe will be watching to see how it plays out. Environmentalists are happy, while auto dealers and other businesses are worried.


DOJ to support lawsuits against companies selling opioids

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it will support local officials in hundreds of lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers. The Justice Department hopes to collect on any settlement payout that comes from the lawsuits. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the federal government has borne substantial costs as a result of the drug crisis, which claimed more than 64,000 lives in 2016.


Justices look at how older law applies to internet cloud

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has explored what happens when a decades-old law meets 21st century technology. The justices heard arguments in a dispute between the Trump administration and Microsoft Corp. over a warrant for emails stored in the internet cloud outside the United States. The high court signaled it will likely side with the government and force U.S. tech companies to hand over such digital files.


Less is more as companies explore shopping by voice

NEW YORK (AP) — A shift to voice-centric services is forcing businesses to rethink how they present information to consumers. It’s similar to the way websites had to slim down to work on the smaller screens of smartphones. The software company Adobe, for instance, is announcing new tools that could help companies create simple voice interfaces for travel and shopping. It’s not a simple task, since a voice-based digital assistant can’t really list dozens of options.


Treasury yields rise, stocks slide following Fed testimony

NEW YORK (AP) — Treasury yields rose Tuesday, and the S&P 500 slid to its first loss in four days after the head of the Federal Reserve said that he’s feeling more optimistic about the economy. The testimony by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell before Congress was highly anticipated, and he gave encouraging words about the economic data that have arrived in recent weeks. But some investors speculated they could mean the central bank will get more aggressive in raising interest rates than the market has prepared for.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 35.32 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,744.28. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 299.24, or 1.2 percent, to 25,410.03, and the Nasdaq composite fell 91.11, or 1.2 percent, to 7,330.35. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 22.86 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,536.47.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 90 cents to settle at $63.01 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped 87 cents to $66.63 per barrel. Natural gas was nearly flat at $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.96 per gallon and wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.80 per gallon.

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