Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mixed after US stock fall ahead of Fed meeting

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mixed as world markets cautiously await signs from the U.S. central bank on how it views the economic outlook.

Japan’s benchmark rose slightly today, while Chinese shares were little changed, and indexes fell in South Korea and Australia.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest economic and interest rate projections are expected later in the day. Economists expect Fed Chair Jerome Powell will try to convince jittery financial markets that the central bank can continue providing support without igniting higher inflation. Wall Street capped a choppy day of trading with indexes closing mostly lower.

STIMULUS TAX CUTS

GOP attorneys general question stimulus barring tax cuts

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) — Republican attorneys general from 21 states are questioning a provision in the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue plan that bars states from using its funds to offset tax cuts.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday, the attorneys general said the prohibition is “unclear, but potentially breathtaking.” Republican states are concerned that any tax cut could be jeopardized if it is construed as taking advantage of the pandemic relief funds.

The White House has said it expects the relief funds to not go toward decreasing taxes. The aid plan includes $195 billion for states, plus separate funds for local governments and schools.

BIDEN CABINET-SMALL BUSINESSES

Senate confirms Isabel Guzman to lead small biz agency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has overwhelmingly approved President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee the Small Business Administration.

The vote to confirm Isabel Guzman was 81-17. Guzman is a former Obama administration SBA official who currently heads California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate.

Guzman will lead an agency that has seen its portfolio greatly expanded in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said he is confident that under Guzman’s leadership, the SBA will help small business owners “hold onto their dreams until our economy comes roaring back.” Guzman is the 18th member of Biden’s Cabinet to win Senate confirmation.

FORD PLANT-OHIO

Union: Ford backs out on vow to add new model at Ohio plant

DETROIT (AP) — United Auto Worker officials say Ford Motor Co. has backed out on a contract promise to invest $900 million for a new product line at an Ohio assembly plant and will instead send production to Mexico.

Around 1,700 hourly workers at the plant in Avon Lake west of Cleveland now produce Ford’s E-series vans and large Super Duty pickup trucks. Ford promised during 2019 contract talks to make the investment and add the new line in 2023. A plant official told workers conditions surrounding the new unnamed product have changed, but the company remains committed to producing heavy duty tracks in Avon Lake.

TWITTER HACK

Florida teen sentenced in hack of celebrity Twitter accounts

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida teen has been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in hacking the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls and scamming people around the globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that 18-year-old Graham Ivan Clark pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple fraud charges as part of a deal with Hillsborough County prosecutors. Prosecutors say Clark was the mastermind of the scheme that hacked prominent Twitter accounts and sent tweets from the accounts seeking payments of Bitcoin. Two other men also were charged in the case.

BULGARIA-COUNTERFIET MONEY

Bulgaria, US seize millions of counterfeit dollars, euros

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian authorities say police seized high-quality forged banknotes produced at a printing office at a university in the capital.

In a joint operation with the U.S. Secret Service, Bulgarian police detained two people and seized a printing machine and equipment for printing money, along with large amounts of counterfeit U.S. dollar and euro notes. The amount of counterfeit money seized is $4 million and 3.6 million euros, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Police believe that the two suspects are part of a larger criminal enterprise, dealing in the trafficking of counterfeit dollars to Ukraine, and of euros to Western Europe.

TEXAS BLACKOUTS-RESIGNATION

Last Texas power regulator from February blackouts resigns

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The last Texas regulator on the Public Utility Commission at the time of the deadly February blackouts has resigned.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he had asked for and received the resignation of Arthur D’Andrea. Abbott had appointed D’Andrea, Sherry Botkin and DeAnn Walker to the PUC. Botkin resigned March 8; Walker, the commission chairwoman, resigned March 1. The commission regulates the Texas power grid and is under intensifying scrutiny following one of the worst blackouts in U.S. history. The loss of power and heat has been blamed for more than 50 deaths.

GRIDDY-BANKRUPTCY

Texas company behind huge electricity bills seeks bankruptcy

UNDATED (AP) — The company that drew attention after sending huge electricity bills to customers after last month’s blackout-causing winter storm in Texas has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Griddy Energy sold power to consumers at wholesale prices plus a $9.99 monthly fee. Its rates skyrocketed during the February deep freeze, when state grid operators raised wholesale prices. The company blamed its situation on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid in most of the state. Griddy said ERCOT kept wholesale prices at the state’s legal cap — $9,000 per megawatt hour — for too long.

BRITAIN-UBER

Uber to give UK drivers minimum wage, pension, holiday pay

LONDON (AP) — Uber is giving its U.K. drivers the minimum wage, pensions and holiday pay, following a recent court ruling that said they should be classified as workers and entitled to such benefits.

The ride hailing giant’s announcement Tuesday comes after it lost an appeal last month at the U.K. Supreme Court following a yearslong court battle, in a decision that holds wider implications for the country’s gig economy. Uber said it’s extending the benefits immediately to its more than 70,000 drivers in the U.K. The drivers who filed the case welcomed the news but said it’s not enough.

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