Business Highlights: Slower rate hikes, holiday deals

Business Highlights: Slower rate hikes, holiday deals


Most Fed officials at last meeting backed slower rate hikes

WASHINGTON — Most Federal Reserve officials at their last meeting favored reducing the size of their interest rate hikes “soon’’— just before raising their benchmark rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for a fourth straight time. The central bank’s policymakers saw “very few signs that inflation pressures were abating.” Still, a “substantial majority″ of the officials felt that smaller rate hikes “would likely soon be appropriate,” according to the minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting. The Fed is widely expected to raise its key short-term rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, by a half-point when it next meets in mid-December.

$740M in crypto assets recovered in FTX bankruptcy so far

NEW YORK — The company tasked with locking down the assets in the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX said they’ve managed to recover and secure $740 million in assets so far, a fraction of the potential billions that is likely missing from bankrupt company’s coffers. The numbers were disclosed on Wednesday by cryptocurrency custodial company BitGo, who FTX hired in the hours after the company filed for bankruptcy on November 11.

Shoppers hunt for deals but inflation makes bargains elusive

NEW YORK — Consumers holding out for big deals — and some much-needed relief from soaring costs on just about everything — may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year. While retailers are advertising sales of 50%, 60% and 70% off everything from TVs to gadgets, many items will still cost more than they did last year because of inflation and finding a true bargain may prove to be a challenge. From September through October, shoppers paid roughly 18% more for electronics and appliances than they did a year ago, according to analytics company DataWeave. For toys, they paid nearly 3% more. ___

Small businesses, and shoppers, return to holiday markets

NEW YORK — On a recent evening in early November shoppers at the Bryant Park holiday market in New York City were in the holiday spirit well before Black Friday. The scent of pine wafted from candle sellers’ booths, people snapped up gingerbread cookies and hot cider and ice skaters swirled figure eights around the rink in the center of the market. After two years of pandemic holidays when people spent more dollars online, shoppers are back in force in stores and at holiday markets. Small businesses say it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, both emotionally and financially. ___

Protesting workers beaten at Chinese iPhone factory

BEIJING — Police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at the biggest factory for Apple’s iPhone, whose new model is delayed by controls imposed as China tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Foxconn is struggling to fill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of employees walked away from the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions. China’s status as an export powerhouse is based on factories like Foxconn’s that produce the world’s consumer electronics, toys and other goods. The ruling Communist Party is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy as it did in early 2020.

Stocks gain ground on Wall Street ahead of US holiday

NEW YORK — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street following the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting, which showed Fed officials agreed that smaller rate hikes would likely be appropriate “soon.” The S&P 500 rose 0.6% Wednesday, the Nasdaq added 1% and the Dow climbed 0.3%. Deere rose after the equipment maker reported higher earnings than analysts were expecting. Long-term Treasury yields were slightly lower. Oil prices fell, European markets closed mostly higher and Asian markets closed mixed overnight. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday.

Unemployment claims rise to 240,000, highest since August

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level since August but still remained low by historic standards. The Labor Department reported Wednesday that 240,000 people applied for jobless aid last week, up by 17,000 from the week before. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, rose by 5,500 to 226,750. Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs and the current low levels shows that American workers enjoy extraordinary job security.

Nigeria hopes new currency notes curb inflation, corruption

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria has unveiled newly designed currency notes that the West African nation’s central bank says will help curb inflation and money laundering. At the unveiling of the notes Wednesday, Central Bank of Nigeria Gov. Godwin Emefiele said the new notes of higher denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 naira also would drive financial inclusion and economic growth. But experts are skeptical about such results in a country that has battled chronic corruption for decades, with government officials known to loot public funds that has caused more hardship for the many struggling with poverty. Nigeria’s currency hasn’t been redesigned in 19 years, and the new initiative is the latest by policymakers in their quest for a cashless and more inclusive economy.

The S&P 500 rose 23.68 points, or 0.6%, to 4,027.26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 95.96 points, or 0.3%, to 34,194.06. The Nasdaq gained 110.91 points, or 1%, to 11,285.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 3.08 points, or 0.2%, to 1,863.52.