Stocks post broad gains…Fed expects gradual rate hikes…BB&T outage

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies are helping drive U.S. stocks broadly higher as investors pore through the latest batch of company earnings and deal news. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP led the gainers among technology stocks. Energy companies also rose as crude oil prices headed higher. Bond yields receded from the four-year highs they reached earlier this week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says it expects that the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy will warrant further gradual increases in interest rates this year. The central bank is delivering the same steady-as-it-goes message under new leader Jerome Powell that it had provided under Janet Yellen. The Fed’s projection on rate hikes came with the release of its semi-annual monetary report to Congress.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Millions of BB&T customers were unable to access their accounts after a service outage which the bank blames on an equipment malfunction. The bank posted a statement on its Twitter page saying the problem persisted today, taking out its online banking, mobile banking app and automated teller machine services. Bank officials blame the problem on an equipment malfunction in a data center, but provided no further details. An outage map showed the biggest impact targeted much of central North Carolina, Atlanta, the Washington area and Philadelphia.

NEW YORK (AP) — MetLife is joining other U.S. companies in severing ties to the National Rifle Association following a school massacre in Parkland, Florida. The insurer terminated discounts that had been offered to NRA members on the NRA website . Enterprise Holdings has already ended its discount program and First National Bank of Omaha won’t renew its contract to issue an NRA-branded Visa credit card.

NEW YORK (AP) — A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Blackrock is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly. Still, a spokesman says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

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