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Update on the latest in business:

September 27, 2018


Asian shares mixed after US Fed lifts interest rate

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted its key interest rate as expected for the third time this year.

Major U.S. indexes fell after the Fed pushed interest rates higher as expected. Stocks initially climbed after the announcement, but the gains faded as a drop in Treasury yields hurt financial stocks. The S&P 500 index dropped 0.3 percent to 2,905.97 after being as much as 0.5 percent higher earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 percent to 26,385.28. The Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent lower at 7,990.37.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose back above $72 per barrel.

The dollar eased against the yen and gained against the euro.


Congress sends bill to Trump to avert government shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has approved a bill keeping the government open through Dec. 7, as lawmakers move to avert a government shutdown looming next week.

The $854 billion bill also funds the military and a host of civilian agencies for the next year.

The House approved the bill, 361-61, on Wednesday, a week after the Senate approved it, 93-7.

The measure now goes to President Donald Trump, who said he will sign it. Trump’s signature would avert a partial government shutdown set to begin Monday, weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 elections that will determine control of Congress.

The spending bill includes $675 billion for the Defense Department and boosts military pay by 2.6 percent, the largest pay raise in nine years. It also increases spending for Health and Human Services, Education, Labor and other agencies, including a 5 percent boost for the National Institutes of Health

Trump said Wednesday he will sign the bill, telling reporters at the United Nations, “We’re going to keep the government open.”


Georgia Nuclear plant gets go-ahead despite budget overages

ATLANTA (AP) — The owners of the last nuclear power plant still under construction in the U.S. say the project will continue after they resolved a disagreement about multibillion-dollar budget overages.

The primary owners, Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, said in a joint statement late Wednesday that they had come to an agreement that “mitigates financial exposure” in construction of the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia.

The project is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

The agreement, disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday, includes cost overage thresholds that, if exceeded, will require Georgia Power to pay a higher share of costs. It also includes a threshold above which the other owners could seek to be bought out by Georgia Power.

The agreement has, for now, saved the plant, which the Department of Energy last week called “a linchpin in the all-of-the-above energy strategy required to sustain our nation’s economic strength and energy independence.”


US House approves $1.7 billion in disaster aid for Carolinas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would provide $1.7 billion to help residents of the Carolinas and elsewhere recover from recent natural disasters.

The aid was added to legislation to keep Federal Aviation Administration programs running beyond month’s end. The bill passed 398-23.

Lawmakers describe the disaster aid as a down payment. They say billions more will be needed in the months ahead to help communities devastated by Hurricane Florence.

Lawmakers from South Carolina and North Carolina had urged Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to provide some quick relief for the states as officials assess the full scope of the damage that has occurred. At least 47 deaths have been attributed to the storm. The lawmakers described the damage in a letter to Ryan and Pelosi. They said entire communities have been isolated because of flooding that was worse than any previous natural disaster in those states.


House approves bill including items for airline passengers

UNDATED (AP) — The House is approving a bill directing the federal government to set a minimum size for airline seats, bar passengers from being kicked off overbooked planes, and consider whether to restrict animals on planes.

Those and other passenger-related provisions are included in a bill to authorize Federal Aviation Administration programs for five years. The House vote Wednesday sends the measure to the Senate, which faces a Sunday deadline.

Privacy advocates are criticizing a provision that lets the government intercept and destroy drones that officials consider a threat to people or federal facilities.

The bill is just as notable for what is not included.

Lawmakers abandoned a plan backed by airlines to privatize the nation’s air-traffic-control system. And congressional negotiators dropped a proposal to crack down on “unreasonable” airline fees.


Major business and economic reports due out today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department releases its August durable goods report today as well as the second-quarter gross domestic product.

Also today, Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average mortgage rates and the National Association of Realtors releases its August report on pending home sales, which are seen as a barometer of future purchases.


Fed raises rates for 3rd time this year with 1 more expected

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has modestly raised a key interest rate for the third time this year in response to a strong U.S. economy and signaled that it foresees another rate hike before the year ends.

The Fed on Wednesday lifted its short-term rate — a benchmark for many consumer and business loans — by a quarter-point to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. It was its eighth hike since late 2015, and the Fed indicated that it expects to continue gradual increases. It also stuck with a previous forecast for three more rate hikes in 2019.

Also, the Fed’s latest forecast predicts that the unemployment rate, now 3.9 percent, will reach 3.7 percent by the end of this year and then 3.5 percent next year. Not since the late 1960s has unemployment fallen that low.

The central bank expects unemployment to begin rising to 3.7 percent at the end of in 2021. It foresees the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, growing 3.1 percent this year before slowing to 2.5 percent in 2019, 2 percent in 2020 and 1.8 percent in 2021. The Fed sees the economy’s long-run growth at a 1.8 percent annual rate — far below the Trump administration’s projections for a sustained rate of 3 percent.


US Trade deal moves

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump says he has rejected a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the tariff dispute involving the two countries. He’s also threatening to place tariffs on cars imported from Canada as trade talks between the two neighbors drag on.

Trump said during a news conference in New York on Wednesday that Canada has treated the U.S. “very badly” during the trade talks. Canada denies requesting a meeting.

Canada was left out when the United States and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile, Japan is confirming in a joint statement with the United States that they will open negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calls it a “very important step” in expanding U.S.-Japan relations.

The statement was issued by the White House on Wednesday after talks between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.


Ford CEO says steel, aluminum tariffs will cost company $1B

DETROIT (AP) — Ford CEO Jim Hackett says the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum will cost the company $1 billion.

Ford says the figure is a year-over-year increase from March through 2019.

Hackett told Bloomberg television that Ford gets most of its metals from U.S. producers, which raised prices due to the tariffs this year.

IHS Markit Senior Analyst Peter Nagle says other automakers will see the same cost increases. Eventually they’ll have to raise prices of cars and trucks or reduce discounts to cover the added costs.

The U.S. slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from some countries in March and added Canada, Mexico and the European Union in June. The administration justified the tariffs by calling foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security.


Temporarily shoring up 2 beams is a priority

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco official says his first priority is to shore up two cracking beams so a $2.2 billion transit center can re-open while engineers search for a permanent fix.

Transbay Joint Powers Authority executive director Mark Zabaneh said Wednesday he expects the Salesforce Transit Center to be closed through next week.

Workers discovered the first crack early Tuesday while installing roofing tiles. The second crack was discovered Tuesday night.

The center was shut down during Tuesday’s evening commute.


NY men charged with selling squid mislabeled as octopus

YAPHANK, N.Y. (AP) — The father and son owners of two Long Island food processing and distribution companies have been charged with selling over 113,000 pounds of squid falsely labeled as octopus.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced the indictment of 58-year-old Roy Tucccillo Sr., 31-year-old Roy Tuccillo Jr., both of Jericho, and their two Westbury-based companies, Anchor Frozen Foods Inc. and Advanced Frozen Foods Inc.

The defendants face conspiracy to commit wire fraud and various Lacey Act violations. Telephone numbers listed for them were not in service.

Prosecutors say the two imported giant squid from Peru and marketed it in grocery stores across the country as octopus, which generally has a greater retail price than squid.

In June, an Associated Press investigation found that a Brooklyn-based sustainable seafood distributor falsely billed fish as local.

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