Asian markets mixed ahead of Fed chair testimony
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Tokyo stocks finished higher but other markets in Asia were mixed on Tuesday ahead of Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s testimony at U.S. Congress later in the day, his first public appearance as chair of the Fed.
Powell is due to testify to the House Financial Services Committee. Investors will be looking for clues about when and how quickly the Fed will continue to raise interest rates. In December, the Fed forecast that it would raise rates three times in 2018 but many think the Fed may accelerate that pace.
U.S. stocks jumped on Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 32.30 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,779.60. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 399.28, or 1.6 percent, to 25,709.27, and the Nasdaq composite gained 84.07, or 1.1 percent, to 7,421.46.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remains just under $64 per barrel.
The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.
New Fed chair Powell meets Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) — When Jerome Powell testifies to Congress on Tuesday in his first public appearance as chairman of the Federal Reserve, investors will be paying close attention to his every word.
Financial markets are always on high alert for any hints of policy shifts when the leader of the world’s most powerful central bank speaks publicly. But in this case, they will be listening with particular care. It will be the first time they will hear Powell articulate his views since he succeeded Janet Yellen.
Most of all, investors will be parsing Powell’s words for any signal of when or how quickly the Fed will continue to raise interest rates. The Fed had forecast in December that it would raise rates three times in 2018. But many analysts think economic developments might lead it to accelerate that pace.
Powell will be offering his thoughts on the Fed’s twice-a-year monetary report to Congress, which lays out its thinking on the economy and interest rates. He will testify Tuesday to the House Financial Services Committee and on Thursday to the Senate Banking Committee.
Sam’s Club teams up with Instacart for same-day delivery
NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart’s Sam’s Club is teaming up with delivery startup Instacart to offer same-day service in three U.S. markets.
The move is part of a strategy to better cater to shoppers who are shifting more of their purchases online.
The service will launch Tuesday in two Texas markets — Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth — and in St. Louis, Missouri. Sam’s Club plans to expand it to other parts of the country. Instacart’s other retail partners include CVS and Costco.
Sam’s Club is seeking to make inroads on Amazon.com’s Prime membership. It just added free shipping for its premium members on 95 percent of the items it sells online. Most shipping costs had been based on the item’s size and weight, the shipping method and the delivery address.
Georgia Democrats say NRA controls state leaders
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Democrats have blasted the state’s lieutenant governor, saying his recent threat against Delta Air Lines for severing ties with the National Rifle Association is proof that Republican lawmakers are in the pocket of the gun lobby.
The statements come shortly after Lt. Gov Casey Cagle tweeted that he would use his position to kill a proposed sales tax exemption on jet fuel unless Delta reverses its position.
Priyanka Mantha, communications director for Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign, said Cagle “would sacrifice thousands of jobs … just to satisfy his buddies at the NRA.”
Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson said Republican leaders had been arguing that the tax cuts were good for business and now were changing their tune because they are afraid of the NRA.
A spokesman for Cagle didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Panama’s government steps into Trump hotel dispute
PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama’s government says it was formally investigating a complaint that executives for President Donald Trump’s family hotel business were illegally occupying a 70-story luxury Trump hotel amid a management dispute.
The Public Ministry said it was investigating whether there was any “punishable conduct” in the matter at the Trump International Hotel in Panama, and that it intended to ask for more information from both sides.
The dispute has brought armed guards on the property, allegations of improperly shredding documents and a pitched fight for control over a room filled with computer servers. Employees acting at the direction of Trump’s hotel business retained physical control over the property, but the hotel’s owners now control at least some of the hotel’s bank accounts.
STEVE WYNN-NY LAWSUIT
Pension fund leader sues Wynn Resorts after sex allegations
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The official in charge of New York’s $209 billion public pension fund has sued Wynn Resorts in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against former company CEO Steve Wynn.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (dee-NAP’-oh-lee) announced Monday that the lawsuit alleges certain officers and directors knew the company’s founder and chairman had made unwanted sexual advances on employees and pressured them to perform sex acts.
The state’s retirement fund holds shares in Wynn Resorts with an estimated value of about $30 million. Wynn Resort shareholders can take legal action when a company’s executives don’t meet their obligations as fiduciaries of the company.
Wynn resigned this month. He has denied the misconduct accusations and attributed them to a campaign led by his ex-wife.
Appeals court says FTC can police telecommunications cos.
NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. appeals court says the Federal Trade Commission can police telecommunications companies like AT&T — a ruling that’s important because another agency is dropping its oversight with repeal of “net neutrality” rules governing customer access to apps and websites.
The case is over claims that AT&T misled smartphone customers in offering unlimited data plans, but slowing speeds for heavy users. An earlier ruling says the FTC lacks authority over AT&T because telecommunications companies are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the FTC can indeed punish telecommunications companies for deceptive practices. The FTC still must prove that AT&T was deceptive.
After the FCC repealed net neutrality in December, the FTC and FCC said they would coordinate online consumer protection efforts.
California OKs driverless car testing without backup drivers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Driverless cars will be tested on California roads for the first time without a human being behind a steering wheel under new rules for the fast-developing technology.
The regulations approved Monday are a major step toward getting autonomous vehicles onto the streets of California, the nation’s self-driving car hub.
Until now, driverless cars could only be tested with human backup drivers who could take over in an emergency.
Manufacturers can apply for permits allowing driverless testing when the regulations go into effect April 2.
The rules approved by California’s Office of Administrative Law also create the framework under which consumers can eventually buy driverless cars.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles says it’s a big boost for regulations that have been in the works for years.