Business News

Jan 18, 5:20 PM EST

Business Highlights


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Commerce pick says NAFTA will be early target for team Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) - Breaking with Republican orthodoxy, a new Trump administration will work quickly to re-do the North American Free Trade Agreement, a massive trade pact with Canada and Mexico that has boosted trade but still stings laid-off workers, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for commerce secretary told Congress on Wednesday.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross told Congress that all free trade agreements should be systematically re-opened every few years to make sure they are working in the best interests of the U.S.

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US stock indexes stay stuck; bond yields and dollar rise

NEW YORK (AP) - The stock market hasn't been this boring in years.

The Standard & Poor's 500 remained at a near standstill Wednesday, the ninth day in a row that it has failed to move by even 0.4 percent, up or down. That's its longest streak of listlessness since the summer of 2013. Other indexes were mixed.

Stocks have been in a wait-and-see period in recent weeks following their torrid run since Election Day. Donald Trump will take the oath of office on Friday, and investors are waiting to see how much of his campaign-trail rhetoric will become government policy.

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Yellen: Expect Fed to gradually hike rates over next 3 years

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she expects the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate several times a year through 2019, as it moves closer toward to its economic goals of maximum employment and stable inflation.

But in a speech in San Francisco Wednesday, she said she can't say when the next interest rate will occur or how high rates will rise. She says that will depend on how the economy performs in the coming months.

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US consumer prices up moderate 0.3 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. consumer prices, driven up by rising energy costs, rose moderately in December, closing out a year in which consumer inflation rose at the fastest pace in five years.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that its consumer price index increased 0.3 percent last month, up from a 0.2 percent gain in November. Energy prices, which have been rebounding, were up 1.5 percent, led by another jump in gasoline pump prices. Food costs were unchanged for the fifth straight month.

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Goldman Sachs results beat estimates, helped by trading

NEW YORK (AP) - Goldman Sachs reported fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday that beat analysts' forecasts as the bank recovered from a difficult quarter a year earlier. Results were particularly strong at Goldman's trading desks in the last three months of the year.

The New York-based investment bank earned $2.35 billion, or $5.08 a share, compared with $765 million, or $1.27 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Last year's results included a $5 billion legal settlement with the Department of Justice related to the bank's dealings during the housing bubble and financial crisis.

The most recent results beat analysts' expectations of $4.76 per share.

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Citigroup's earnings beat analysts' forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) - Financial giant Citigroup on Wednesday reported a 7 percent rise in fourth-quarter profits, helped by a strong performance in the bank's trading business, a theme that has repeated itself with all the major Wall Street banks this quarter.

The New York-based company said it earned $3.57 billion in the fourth quarter. The results were slightly above analysts' estimates of $1.12 per share.

All the major Wall Street banks benefited from a broad market rally that occurred after the U.S. presidential election.

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Target cuts profit, sales outlook after bumpy holiday season

NEW YORK (AP) - Target cut its fourth-quarter profit and sales outlook after sluggish holiday traffic in its stores and weak sales in key areas like electronics and food offset a surging online business.

The holiday season was disappointing for Target and several other retailers dominated by online leader Amazon.com. Macy's, Sears and others have announced store closings and layoffs.

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American Airlines to sell restricted 'basic economy' ticket

DALLAS (AP) - American Airlines announced Wednesday that passengers will be able to buy "basic economy" tickets starting next month that will be similar to bare-bones fares already offered by Delta Air Lines and soon to be matched by United Airlines.

If you want to get the cheapest fare on American or United, you will have to leave that rolling carry-on bag at home. Passengers who pay basic-economy rates on those carriers will be limited to one item that fits under their seat - no wheeled bags that take up space in the overhead bins.

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JPMorgan settles mortgage discrimination lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) - JPMorgan Chase will pay $55 million to settle federal charges that independent brokers working for the bank discriminated against minorities seeking home mortgages during the housing crisis.

A federal suit filed in Manhattan Wednesday accused JPMorgan Chase & Co. of charging black and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees for mortgages from 2006 to at least 2009, causing them to pay an average of an extra thousand dollars. The lawsuit alleges that discrimination cost at least 53,000 minority borrowers tens of millions in higher interest payments and fees, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

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Consumer agency sues Navient over student loan repayments

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators have sued Navient, accusing the biggest U.S. student loan company of making it harder for borrowers to repay loans by giving them bad information, processing payments incorrectly and failing to act on complaints.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed the federal lawsuit against Navient Corp. and two subsidiaries on Wednesday, seeking restitution for affected borrowers and penalties. The agency said the company also cheated struggling borrowers out of their rights to lower their payments "through shortcuts and deception."

Navient disputed the allegations, calling the suit a politically motivated "midnight action" two days before the Trump administration takes office.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.05 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,804.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,271.89. The Nasdaq composite rose 16.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,555.65.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.40 to settle at $51.08 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.55 to close at $53.92. Natural gas fell 11 cents to $3.302 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.61 a gallon and wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to $1.55 per gallon.

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