Business Highlights: Fed tapering, investors’ climate bet
Fed to begin slowing economic aid as inflation worries rise
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve will begin dialing back the extraordinary economic aid it’s provided since the pandemic erupted last year, a response to high inflation that now looks likely to persist longer than it did just a few months ago. In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed said it will start reducing its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases in the coming weeks, by $15 billion a month, though it reserved the right to change that pace. Those purchases have been intended to hold down long-term interest rates to encourage borrowing and spending. With the economy recovering, that’s no longer needed.
US puts new controls on Israeli spyware company NSO Group
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Biden administration has announced it is putting new export limits on Israel’s NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company, saying its tools have been used to “conduct transnational repression.” The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday that NSO Group and three other firms are being added to the “entity list,” which limits their access to U.S. components and technology by requiring government permission for exports. The department said putting these companies on the entity list was part of efforts to promote human rights in U.S. foreign policy. Researchers say NSO Group’s spyware has been used around the world to break into the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even members of the Catholic clergy. The company denies wrongdoing.
Investors bet big on climate fight but motives questioned
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Governments and big investors have announced fresh plans to pour trillions of dollars into curbing global warming. The move reflects the financial world’s growing embrace of efforts to fight climate change as both a business necessity and opportunity. A group representing over 450 major financial institutions with assets of more than $130 trillion said Wednesday its members will pursue the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord. But some social justice activists have warned that the same financial institutions that profited from funding fossil fuel firms are now being presented as green champions.
Paid leave, immigration, tax changes added to Biden bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats have added paid family and medical leave, immigration law changes and a state-and-local tax break to their $1.75 trillion social services and environmental bill. They are rushing to finish up the overall package Wednesday after dismal election night results. The family leave program is expected to include four weeks of paid time off for childbirth, recovery from major illness or caring for family members. Immigrants can apply for five-year work permits. And a $10,000 state-and-local tax deduction cap will be lifted to $72,500. This comes after Democrats reached a deal to lower Medicare drug costs as they head toward House votes on President Joe Biden’s plan.
Labor secretary: Pandemic, worker vexation feed port issues
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says slowdowns and bottlenecks at the nation’s shipping terminals are the result of an ongoing pandemic and problems like stagnant wages for some workers along the supply chain. Walsh told The Associated Press that’s what he’s hearing from those whose pay hasn’t gone up commensurate with experience. Walsh met Wednesday with workers during a visit to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. There’s an ongoing labor dispute between South Carolina and the dockworkers’ union, related to who should operate heavy-lift equipment at a new terminal. Walsh says he plays no role in the dispute but supports the right to join a union.
Stocks rise after Fed says it will dial back aid for economy
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed to more record highs Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it will begin dialing back the extraordinary aid for the economy it has been providing since the early days of the pandemic. The Fed said it will begin reducing its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases in the coming weeks by $15 billion a month. The central bank’s announcement was in line with what markets expected. The S&P 500 rose 0.6%, the Dow Jones Industrials rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq rose 1%. Small-cap stocks outpaced the rest of the market. Bond yields rose and crude oil prices fell.
Deere warns employees not to expect more as strike continues
MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere executives say the company won’t return to the bargaining table with striking workers because it won’t offer a better contract than one they rejected that included immediate 10% raises. Marc Howze, the chief administrative officer of Deere & Co., said Wednesday that the deal the United Auto Workers union rejected on Tuesday represented the most it could offer and still keep its costs competitive. Pressure on the union to reach a settlement will mount the longer workers go without pay. The disputed contract would cover more than 10,000 Deere workers at 12 facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, who make the company’s iconic John Deere green tractors and other equipment.
Australia regulator demands face-scanning firm delete photos
An Australian privacy authority has ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to stop scanning the faces of Australians and destroy the images and related data it has already collected. It’s the latest challenge for the New York startup that has angered privacy advocates around the world over its practice of “scraping” photos from social media to identify people wanted by police and other government agencies. Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said Wednesday that the company breached Australians’ privacy by pulling their personal data from the web and disclosing it through its facial recognition tool. Clearview says it plans to appeal the decision.
The S&P 500 rose 29.92 points, or 0.6%, to 4,660.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 104.95 points, or 0.3%, to 36,157.58. The Nasdaq added 161.98 points, 1%, to 15,811.58. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 42.43 points, or 1.8%, to 2,404.28.