Business Highlights

By: The Associated Press, Associated Press
September 21, 2016 Updated: September 21, 2016 at 4:24 pm
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Fed keeps key rate unchanged but hints of coming hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is keeping its key interest rate unchanged but signaled that it will likely raise rates before year's end.

The Fed said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. job market has continued to strengthen and economic activity has picked up. But it noted that business investment remains soft and inflation too low and that it wants to see further improvement in the job market.

The central bank characterized the near-term risks to its economic outlook as "roughly balanced." It was the first time it has used that wording since late last year, when it most recently raised rates.

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US stocks jump after Fed leaves interest rates unchanged

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks climbed Wednesday as investors were relieved that the Federal Reserve once again left interest rates unchanged. That sent dividend-paying stocks higher, while energy companies jumped with the price of oil.

Stocks made a big gain after the Fed's decision, which ended about weeks of confusion for investors. With the central bank confirming that it will raise interest rates slowly, bond yields dropped and utility and phone companies rose. The price of oil rose after the U.S. government said energy stockpiles shrank last week.

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Interim Viacom CEO to leave, dividend slashed

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom says interim CEO Tom Dooley will leave Nov. 15 and the company is cutting its dividend in half.

Dooley was installed after its prior CEO Philippe Dauman was pushed out in August as part of a settlement with National Amusements, a private company that holds controlling stakes in both Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

Viacom, which owns the Paramount Pictures and pay TV channels such as Comedy Central and MTV, has been struggling to improve its profit as its movie studio struggled to produce hits and cable viewership declines.

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Mylan CEO defends EpiPen cost to angry lawmakers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Outraged lawmakers grilled the head of pharmaceutical company Mylan on Wednesday about the cost increase for EpiPens and the profits for a company.

CEO Heather Bresch said that she wishes the company had "better anticipated the magnitude and acceleration" of the rising prices for some families. But maintained that her company doesn't make much profit from each emergency allergy shot.

The price for EpiPens has grown to $608 for a two-pack, an more than 500 percent increase since 2007. Lawmakers say families struggling to pay for the shots have every right to be angry at Mylan.

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Your TV may use more energy than you think, group charges

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An environmental group on Wednesday accused three major television manufacturers of misleading consumers and regulators about how much energy their high-definition screens devour by designing them to draw less power during government testing than in ordinary use.

The report by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that the TVs made by Samsung, LG Electronics and Vizio saddle households with an extra $120 million in electricity bills each year and generate tons of additional pollution.

The added expense works out to about $10 to $20 per household annually over the anticipated decade-long life of the typical widescreen TV.

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Tesla updates software to improve radar

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla Motors customers will get enhanced radar and other features in an over-the-air software update that starts Wednesday night.

The update makes the Model S sedan and Model X SUV rely more reliant on radar than cameras when driving in Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. Teslas made after October 2014 have radar.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the change should help avoid crashes like the one that killed a Tesla driver in Florida in May. That driver — who was using Autopilot — crashed into a tractor-trailer that Tesla's camera failed to detect.

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1,400 investor lawsuits seek 8.2 billion euros from VW

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A German court says it has been flooded with1,400 investor lawsuits against Volkswagen seeking damages worth 8.2 billion euros ($9.2 billion).

The regional court in Braunschweig said Wednesday that 750 lawsuits arrived on Monday alone from a single law office as a possible one-year deadline to file approached. The court said the Volkswagen investor lawsuits equaled about half of its normal intake for an entire year.

Investors claim Volkswagen did not disclose in a timely way that it faced costly action from U.S. regulators over cars with software that enabled them to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

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SEC accuses hedge fund manager Cooperman of insider trading

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators have accused high-profile hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman and his firm of illegally trading on confidential information he learned from a company executive.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the civil insider-trading charges Wednesday against Cooperman and his firm, Omega Advisors. The SEC also alleged that Cooperman tried to cover up the misconduct.

The SEC indicated it was sending a message that well known and wealthy people aren't exempt from its efforts to pursue insider trading.

Cooperman's attorneys said the allegations are "entirely baseless."

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US grants Airbus, Boeing a chance to sell airplanes to Iran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. government granted aviation giants Airbus and Boeing permission on Wednesday to sell aircraft to Iran following last year's nuclear accord.

European airplane manufacturer Airbus announced the license from the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control early Wednesday. Chicago-based Boeing followed with its own announcement later in the day.

The approval clears the way for the two plane manufacturers to access one of the last untapped aviation markets in the world.

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Zuckerberg, Chan pledge $3B to end disease

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a goal that's even more ambitious than connecting the entire world to the internet: He and his wife want to help eradicate all disease by the end of this century.

Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are committing $3 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate basic scientific research, including the creation of research tools — from software to hardware to yet-undiscovered techniques — they hope will ultimately lead to scientific breakthroughs, the way the microscope and DNA sequencing have in generations past.

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UK report say hiring at some firms on hold post-Brexit

LONDON (AP) — A new Bank of England survey suggests some businesses are freezing both investment and hiring in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, with broadly flat levels of spending in the next six months to a year.

The so-called agents' summary of business conditions revealed that in some sectors, such as commercial real estate, "all non-essential recruitment had been frozen." But the bank says businesses were more optimistic following the initial shock of the vote.

Allan Monks, economist at JP Morgan, says the report suggests an impact that over time "will still have significant adverse economic implications."

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The Dow Jones industrial average gained 163.74 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,293.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index surged 23.36 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,163.12. The Nasdaq composite added 53.83 points, or 1 percent, to a record 5,295.18.

Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.29, or 2.9 percent, to $45.34 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 95 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $46.83 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $1.40 a gallon. Heating oil added 2 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $1.43 a gallon. Natural gas gained 1 cent to $3.06 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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