Stocks, Bonds Fall After Fed Cuts Stimulus
Business Roundup for Wednesday, March 19.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing lower after the Federal Reserve said it would cut back further on its economic stimulus. The central bank and its newly installed Chair Janet Yellen also suggested the Fed was moving closer to raising interest rates. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 1,860 Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped lost 114 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,222. The Dow was down as much as 209 points earlier. The Nasdaq composite fell 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,307. Financial stocks including Bank of America rose as investors anticipated higher interest rates would mean higher earnings from lending at major banks. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.77 percent from 2.67 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen says the U.S. economy is “not close to full employment,” even though the unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point over the past 12 months to 6.7 percent. The unemployment rate has fallen despite sluggish growth of 1.9 percent last year, in part because many people have stopped looking for work. Yellen commented after her first Fed meeting since taking over as chair from Ben Bernanke.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is trying to clarify a question that investors keep asking: When will it start to raise short-term interest rates? The Fed today reaffirmed its plan to keep short-term rates low to help support the economy. But it no longer mentions a specific unemployment rate that might lead it eventually to raise rates. Instead, the Fed says it will monitor “a wide range of information” on the job market, inflation and the economy before approving any rate increase.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s the largest financial penalty ever imposed on an auto company. The government has announced a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota over its handling of safety issues involving unintended acceleration. It also filed a criminal charge alleging the automaker defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about the issues. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, an independent monitor will review policies, practices and procedures at the company.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration says Boeing’s 787 jetliner is safe, despite problems that have plagued it since its rollout, including a fire that forced a redesign of the plane’s batteries. After a yearlong review, the agency says the 787 was “soundly designed” and “met its intended safety level.” It also says Boeing and the FAA had “effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Cheerios are no longer made with genetically modified ingredients, but the switch hasn’t yet translated to a boost in sales. General Mills CEO Ken Powell says the company has received supportive letters and online comments for its decision, but “not really seeing anything” in terms of a sales lift. The company announced it would start making its plain Cheerios without GMOs after a campaign by the group Green America.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government has reached a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. over its disclosure of safety problems. A four-year criminal investigation focused on whether Toyota was forthright in reporting problems related to unintended acceleration. Attorney General Eric Holder says the company will admit that it misled U.S. consumers. Toyota says since the recalls, its “made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Large increases in exports and overseas investment income have narrowed the U.S. current account deficit to the lowest level in 14 years. The Commerce Department says the imbalance fell to $81.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Petroleum and agricultural products drove the rise in goods exports. The current account is the country’s broadest measure of trade, covering not only goods and services but also investment flows.
DALLAS (AP) — FedEx says its profit rose 5 percent from a year ago despite storms that raised the company’s costs. But its results fell below analysts’ expectations. The package-delivery giant says net income rose to $378 million, or $1.23 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $1.45 per share. Revenue also rose, but not as much as expected.
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Treasury chief is telling Parliament that the government’s austerity program will continue even though the economy is growing faster than predicted. George Osborne says the U.K. economy should grow 2.7 percent this year, making it the fastest-growing among the top 7 industrial economies. But Osborne says he must “fix the roof when the sun is shining” and further spending cuts will be needed through the next parliamentary term.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — International stock markets were subdued today ahead of the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s first policy meeting under its new chief. Most analysts expect the Fed to continue to reduce its monetary stimulus at the speed it has already set. Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped to just above $99.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s an important day for investors who will get their first hints about how the Federal Reserve will do business with Janet Yellen at the helm. Of particular interest will be hints about what Yellen might do differently than her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. The Fed wraps up its first regular meeting with Yellen as chairwoman today.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Besides the wrap-up of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting, the day includes some economic and earnings data. This morning, the Commerce Department releases current account trade measure for the fourth quarter. And FedEx will report quarterly financial results before the market opens.
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