Fed signals more aggressive steps to fight inflation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials are signaling that they will take a more aggressive approach to fighting high inflation in the coming months — actions that will make borrowing sharply more expensive for consumers and businesses and heighten risks to the economy. In minutes from their policy meeting three weeks ago, Fed officials said that aggressive half-point rate hikes, rather than traditional quarter-point increases — “could be appropriate” multiple times this year. At last month’s meeting, many of the Fed policymakers favored a half-point increase but held off because of the uncertainties created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, the Fed raised its short-term rate by a quarter-point and signaled that it planned to continue raising rates well into next year.
Democrats accuse oil companies of ‘rip off’ on gas prices
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are accusing oil companies of “ripping off the American people” and putting profits before production as Americans suffer from higher gasoline prices amid the war in Ukraine. Oil executives, testifying before Congress for the second time in six months, responded that oil is a global market and that oil companies don’t dictate prices. The hearing comes as President Joe Biden has ordered the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve for six months in a bid to control prices. Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington blamed Biden for the increase.
Russia to pay bonds in rubles, which may cause default
NEW YORK (AP) — Russia says it made a debt payment in rubles this week, a move that may not be accepted by Russia’s foreign debtholders and could put the country on a path to an historic default. The action by Russia was in response to the most recent U.S. sanctions, which barred Russia from using dollars or euros held in U.S. banks for debt payments. The Kremlin said Wednesday that it would continue to pay in rubles using a special bank account, and may allow investors to redeem those payments for dollars or euros in the future. It’s unclear that Russia’s debt holders will accept that as payment. ___
Stocks fall, yields rise as Fed details inflation efforts
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell and bond yields rose on Wall Street Wednesday after details from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting showed the central bank intends to be aggressive in its efforts to fight inflation. Minutes from the meeting show that policymakers agreed to begin cutting the Fed’s stockpile of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities by about $95 billion a month, starting in May. The S&P 500 fell 1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4%. Technology companies had some of the biggest losses, pushing the Nasdaq down 2.2%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.61%.
Toyota buyers soon will lose US electric vehicle tax credits
DETROIT (AP) — Toyota customers soon won’t be able to get U.S. federal tax credits for buying electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Toyota’s sales chief for North American, Bob Carter, said Wednesday that the automaker expects to reach a 200,000-vehicle cap on the credits before the end of June. After that, the credits will be phased out over the next year, reaching zero. Tesla and General Motors have reached zero. The lack of credits is problematic for automakers as the industry shifts from petroleum-powered vehicles to batteries in the effort reduce emissions, meet government fuel economy standards and fight climate change.
Yellen: Russia’s invasion will have ‘enormous repercussions’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told a House panel that Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe “will have enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond.” Yellen said Wednesday that globally, “spillovers from the crisis” are heightening economic vulnerabilities in many countries that are already facing higher debt burdens and limited policy options as they recover from COVID-19. She added that the rising price of energy, metal, wheat and corn that Russia and Ukraine produce “is going to escalate inflationary pressures as well.”
Miami’s crypto craze on full display at bitcoin conference
MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of cryptocurrency enthusiasts are gathering in Miami as the city builds its reputation as one of the key locations to develop the blockchain technology despite its underdog status. Dozens of companies are using the Bitcoin 2022 conference running Wednesday through Saturday as a venue to network, pitch ideas and share announcements to the industry and beyond. Cryptocurrency exchange FTX bought the naming rights for the NBA arena in downtown Miami last year, replacing American Airlines. And the largest crypto company to move to Miami so far, Blockchain.com, will house 200 employees at a location in the hip Wynwood district, where other tech firms and investors are setting up shop as well.
Chanel restricts sales to Russians abroad amid Ukraine war
PARIS (AP) — Luxury fashion brand Chanel says it will stop selling its clothes, perfumes and other luxury goods to Russian customers abroad if they plan to take the products back to the country. Some are calling the move a bold response to the invasion of Ukraine, while others say it goes too far. It comes after the French fashion house shuttered its boutiques in Russia. Chanel says this step is simply complying with Western trade sanctions that prohibit transactions with designated individuals. Some Russian social media influencers say they’re being asked for identification and denied the ability to buy goods at Chanel boutiques from Paris to the United Arab Emirates.
The S&P 500 tumbled 43.97 points, or 1%, to 4,481.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 144.67 points, or 0.4%, to 34,496.51. The Nasdaq lost 315.35 points, or 2.2%, to 13,888.82. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies shed 29.11 points, or 1.4%, to 2,016.94.