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FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks turn slightly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have shaken off an early stumble in midday trading on Wall Street.

The major indexes edged higher after the chairman of the Federal Reserve told lawmakers that the central bank is likely to hold off on another interest rate cut, unless the economy shows signs of worsening. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also expressed optimism about the prospects for the U.S. economy, which he expects will grow at a solid pace.

Makers of household goods, utilities and real estate companies led the gainers. Banks fell the most as bond prices rose, dragging down the yields used to set interest rates that lenders charge on mortgages and other loans.

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL

Fed’s Powell sees steady growth, signals pause in rate cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated Wednesday that the Fed is likely to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate unchanged in the coming months.

In testimony before a congressional panel, Powell said Fed policymakers are unlikely to cut rates unless the economy slows enough to cause Fed policymakers to make a “material reassessment” of their outlook.

For now, Powell expressed optimism about the prospects for the U.S. economy and said he expects it will grow at a solid pace, though it still faces risks from slower growth overseas and trade tensions.

Powell said two major long-term issues facing the U.S. economy are sluggish productivity growth and low participation rates in the job market by prime-age workers. He suggested remedies including funding programs to deal with the opioid crisis and increased job training programs.

The Fed cut short-term rates last month for the third time this year, to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%

CONSUMER PRICES

US consumer prices up 0.4% in October; gasoline prices surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Surging gasoline prices caused U.S. consumer prices to rise last month at the fastest pace since March.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that its consumer price index rose 0.4% in October after a flat reading in September. Gasoline prices, after drops in August and September, jumped 3.7% last month. Excluding volatile energy and food prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose just 0.2% in October.

Overall consumer prices rose 1.8% over the past year, just below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. Core prices increased 2.3%.

Relatively tame inflation has allowed the Fed to cut short-term U.S. interest rates three times this year to support an American economy slowed by trade disputes with China and other U.S. trading partners.

CLIMATE-WORLD ENERGY

World's thirst for oil to keep growing until 2030s

PARIS (AP) — An important global energy forecast says the world's thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s and climate-damaging emissions will keep climbing until at least 2040.

In its annual long-term outlook, the International Energy Agency called Wednesday for "strong leadership" from governments to bring down emissions.

It forecasts that growing demand for SUVs could negate the environmental benefits of electric vehicle growth. And it says current investment in renewable energy is "insufficient" to meet the needs of growing populations, notably in cities across Asia and Africa.

The IEA forecast global oil demand of 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040, up from 96.9 million last year.

The IEA's World Energy Outlook is increasingly important to governments because of its relevance to climate policy.

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE-EXPANSION

Regulators weigh big increase in Dakota Access line capacity

LINTON, N.D. (AP) — Supporters and opponents of a proposal to double the capacity of the Dakota Access pipeline are gathering in south-central North Dakota to make their case.

Texas-based Energy Transfer wants to double the capacity of the line to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily to meet growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other opponents have long argued that a leak in the pipeline would threaten the tribe's Missouri River water supply. They say increasing pressure magnifies the risk.

The initial building of the pipeline led to months of sometimes violent protests, and members of the public had to go through metal detectors to get into the small auditorium in Linton where the Public Service Commission was taking up the issue Wednesday.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES-UTILITY

California regulators to open inquiry into power outages

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators are voting Wednesday on whether to open an investigation into pre-emptive power outages that blacked out large parts of the state for much of October as strong winds sparked fears of wildfires.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., initiated multiple rounds of shut-offs that plunged nearly 2.5 million people into darkness throughout northern and central California.

PG&E officials insisted on the shut-offs to prevent wildfires but a parade of public officials complained the company botched its communications.

Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. also shut off power but to far fewer people.

California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer ordered the investigation, saying the state cannot continue to experience widespread blackouts.

A vote by the five-member commission is required.

GOOGLE-CHECKING ACCOUNTS

Report: Google will offer checking accounts

NEW YORK (AP) — Google plans offer checking accounts run by Citigroup and a credit union, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Big tech companies have been pushing into other arenas such as finance and health care to gain more access to consumer data. The push comes at a time when regulators are looking into privacy practices by firms including Google and Facebook so the deals are likely to be scrutinized.

The project is expected to launch next year, a Google executive told The Journal. The financial institutions’ brands, not Google’s, will front the accounts.

Google declined to comment. It’s not Google’s first foray into finance. It launched Google Wallet and Google Pay which let users store credit and debit card information and use them to make mobile and digital payments.

GOOGLE-FITBIT-PUSHBACK

Privacy, consumer groups seek to block Google-Fitbit deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Nine privacy, social justice and consumer groups are calling for the U.S. government to block Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, citing antitrust and privacy concerns.

They say in a Wednesday letter to the Federal Trade Commission that the deal would consolidate Google’s dominance over internet services like search, advertising and smartphone operating systems.

They also worry it’ll add to Google’s store of consumer data. Health information is of particular concern. Google has hired health care executives, hinting at a health-data business to come.

Politicians and regulators have been scrutinizing Google and other Silicon Valley companies for how they use customer data and leverage their size to thwart competitors.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

NIKE-AMAZON

Nike calls off pilot program with Amazon ending direct sales

UNDATED (AP) — Nike is ending a sales partnership with Amazon less than a month after the athletic gear company named an e-commerce veteran as its new chief executive.

The company says it wants to create a more direct customer experience, but the announcement Wednesday is a setback for Amazon.

Amazon is under pressure from big-name brands to cut back on fake goods from third-party sellers. Nike announced the pilot program with Amazon in 2017, hoping that it would have more control over the brand if it were more closely involved.

Industry analysts who have monitored the partnership say it appears that those problems have continued.

Amazon has acknowledged problematic sales of counterfeit goods on the site this year introduced new tools stop them.

DISNEY PLUS-SUBSCRIBERS

Disney Plus hits 10M subscribers in 1 day

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney Plus says it hit more than 10 million sign-ups on its first day of launch, far exceeding expectations.

Disney’s mix of Marvel and Star Wars movies and shows, classic animated films and new series appears to be a hit out of the gate after its launch on Tuesday.

Disney has invested billions in its streaming service, which costs $7 a month or $70 a year after a 7-day free trial. Customers of some Verizon wireless and home-internet plans were offered a year free.

Disney didn’t break down where the subscriptions came from or if they were free or paid monthly or yearly. Some analysts thought it would take Disney a year to reach 10 million subscribers.

Netflix has garnered 158 million subscribers since launching its streaming platform in 2007.

HOLIDAY TRAVEL

Thanksgiving travel rush likely to shatter records

UNDATED (AP) — Record throngs of travelers are expected to jam into airports over the Thanksgiving break and airlines are adding hundreds of flights a day in response.

The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that it expects to screen more than 26.8 million passengers between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2, a 4% increase over last year.

The busiest days figure to be the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day. The lightest day? That’s expected to be the holiday itself.

TSA says it will offer overtime to screeners to keep checkpoints adequately staffed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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