Mar 21, 5:18 PM EDT

Business Highlights


Facebook's Zuckerberg admits mistakes, outlines fixes

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is admitting mistakes and outlining steps to protect user data in light of privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. Zuckerberg is breaking more than four days of silence as he posts an update about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg says Facebook has a "responsibility" to protect its users' data, and "if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you."


Facebook crisis-management lesson: What not to do

NEW YORK (AP) - The crisis-management playbook is pretty simple: Get ahead of the story, update authorities and the public regularly, assume responsibility and take decisive action. Crisis-management experts say Facebook is 0-for-4. Facebook's two top executives, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, have gone radio silent since news broke on Sunday that a political consulting firm may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections.


Fed raises key rate and foresees 2 more hikes this year

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve is raising its key interest rate and signaling confidence in the U.S. economy's durability but plans to continue a gradual approach to rate hikes for 2018 under its new chairman, Jerome Powell. The Fed expects to increase rates twice more this year. At the same time, it increased its estimate for rate hikes in 2019 from two to three, reflecting more optimistic expectations for solid growth and low unemployment.


Stocks meander but stay higher after Fed raises rates

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stock indexes give up early-afternoon gains and finish with small losses after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and said it might increase those rates at a faster pace next year. The market slumped during a press conference by new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Smaller companies rose, while energy stocks climbed with oil prices.


Powell's press briefing shorter than Yellen's

WASHINGTON (AP) - New Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell's first press conference clocked in at about 45 minutes, shorter than his predecessor Janet Yellen, who typically went for about an hour. Powell took plenty of questions, but his answers were shorter than Yellen's, who frequently gave careful, economically complex responses that sometimes seemed intended to run out the clock.


Which countries will dodge tariff ax? Answer by end of April

WASHINGTON (AP) - America's top trade negotiator says the Trump administration will decide by the end of April which countries will be spared from steep taxes on steel and aluminum imports. U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means Committee that some countries won't have to pay the tariffs, which take effect Friday, while they try to negotiate exemptions.


Trump swings behind massive budget; big military increase

WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite second thoughts, President Donald Trump swung behind a $1.3 trillion government spending bill Wednesday. It would give him a partial victory on funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. House Speaker Paul Ryan had rushed to the White House amid worries that Trump was talking about withdrawing his support for the measure.


TV future at stake: Opening arguments Thursday in AT&T case

NEW YORK (AP) - Opening arguments are set for Thursday in the federal government's case to block AT&T's efforts to gobble up Time Warner in a case that could shape how you get - and how much you pay for - streaming TV and movies. AT&T says it needs to buy Time Warner to compete with the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Google. The Justice Department's antitrust lawyers worry that consumers will end up paying more to watch their favorite shows, whether on a TV screen, smartphone or tablet.


Supreme Court limits reach of tax crime statute

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is making it harder for the federal government to use a section of the tax law to convict someone of a crime. The court ruled Wednesday to limit the application of a statute that the government had interpreted to give it a broad ability to charge someone with obstructing or impeding the work of the Internal Revenue Service.


US existing-home sales climbed 3 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. sales of existing homes rebounded in February after declining for the previous two months. It's a sign that many Americans are still looking to buy despite rising prices and a shrinking number of homes available on the market. The National Association of Realtors says sales rose 3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 5.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,711.93. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 44.96 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,682.31. The Nasdaq composite fell 19.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,345.29. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 8.90 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,579.30.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.63, or 2.6 percent, to $65.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $2.05, or 3 percent, to $69.47 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline added 5 cents to $2.01 a gallon. Heating oil rose 5 cents to $2 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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