Business Highlights: Powell on rates, Florida on Disney

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Powell reinforces expectations of sharp rate hike next month

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve must move faster than it has in the past to rein in high inflation, Chair Jerome Powell said, signaling that sharp interest rate increases are likely in the coming months, beginning at the Fed’s next policy meeting in May. In a panel discussion held by the International Monetary Fund during its spring meetings, Powell also suggested that “there’s something...

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Powell reinforces expectations of sharp rate hike next month

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve must move faster than it has in the past to rein in high inflation, Chair Jerome Powell said, signaling that sharp interest rate increases are likely in the coming months, beginning at the Fed’s next policy meeting in May. In a panel discussion held by the International Monetary Fund during its spring meetings, Powell also suggested that “there’s something in the idea of front-loading” aggressive rate hikes as the Fed grapples with inflation that has reached a four-decade high. “So that does point in the direction of (a half-point increase) being on the table” for the Fed’s next policy meeting May 3-4, Powell said.

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Disney self-government in peril after Florida House vote

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida House of Representatives has given final passage to a bill to dissolve a private government that Walt Disney World has been allowed to operate on its properties for more than five decades. House lawmakers approved the measure on Thursday. The passage is a victory for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. He has been feuding with the entertainment giant after it publicly declared its opposition to a new law backed by the governor that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” The Disney bill would eliminate the self-governed districts by June 2023. But it would allow the districts to be reestablished in the future, leaving the door open for further negotiations.

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Musk says he has $46.5B in financing ready to buy Twitter

NEW YORK (AP) — Elon Musk says he has lined up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter, and he’s trying to negotiate an agreement with the company. The Tesla CEO says in documents filed Thursday with U.S. securities regulators that he’s exploring what’s known as a tender offer to buy all of the social media platform’s common stock for $54.20 per share in cash. But Musk hasn’t decided yet whether to do that. The documents say Twitter has not responded to Musk’s proposal. Last week Twitter’s board adopted a “poison pill” defense that would make a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive.

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Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will retire next year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charles Evans will retire early next year after 15 years as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a tenure that made him the longest-serving regional Fed president. Among Fed officials, Evans has been a vocal supporter of lower interest rates. His departure comes as the Fed is wrestling with how quickly and how high to boost its benchmark short-term rate in its fight against inflation, which is at its worst level in four decades. Regional Fed presidents like Evans take part in the central bank’s eight policymaking meetings each year.

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US airlines say they’ve reached a turning point in recovery

DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines says the first quarter was difficult, with another large loss, but it expects to turn a profit in the second quarter as more people return to travel. That’s similar to what other airlines are saying, as they plan for a booming summer travel season. American said Thursday it lost $1.64 billion in the first quarter, which was marred by thousands of flight cancellations, many of them because pilots and flight attendants were out with COVID-19. But American says March was much better. Revenue is double what it was a year ago, and it’s back to 84% of pre-pandemic levels.

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CNN’s streaming service shutting down a month after launch

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN is shutting down its CNN+ streaming service less than a month after its launch. It’s a spectacular flameout for a venture that had attracted stars like Chris Wallace and Alison Roman and was seen as a way to attract a new generation of news consumers. CNN+ launched when its parent was still part of AT&T. Its new corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, is scrapping the service. Some CNN+ programming and employees will be absorbed into the television network and website but there will be layoffs. The head of CNN+, Andrew Morse, is leaving the company.

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Stocks fall on Wall Street following Fed chief’s comments

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shed early gains and closed broadly lower on Wall Street Thursday after the head of the Federal Reserve said the central bank needs to take more aggressive action to fight high inflation. The S&P 500 fell 1.5%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1% and the Nasdaq fell 2.1%. American Airlines rose after telling investors it expects to turn a profit in the second quarter as more people return to travel. Tesla rose after the maker of electric cars and solar panels reported strong sales and a seven-fold increase in profits. Treasury yields rose.

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Airlines want to bring back passengers banned over masks

DALLAS (AP) — Remember all those thousands of passengers that airlines banned for not wearing face masks? Now the airlines want them back — or at least, most of them. Officials with United Airlines and American Airlines said Thursday that they will lift the bans now that masks are optional on flights. United CEO Scott Kirby says many of those passenger promise to behave, and he believes them. American Airlines official Nate Gatten says most people who were banned for refusing to wear a mask will be allowed back. But Gatten says those whose behavior escalated beyond a mask violation — to things including assault — will never be allowed back.

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Fewest Americans collecting jobless aid since 1970

WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for unemployment benefits inched down last week as the total number of Americans collecting aid fell to its lowest level in more than 50 years. Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 184,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which levels out week-to-week volatility, rose by 4,500 to 177,250. About 1.42 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits in the week of April 9, the fewest since February 21, 1970. Two years after the coronavirus pandemic plunged the economy into a brief but devastating recession, American workers are enjoying extraordinary job security.

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The S&P 500 dropped 65.79 points, or 1.5%, to 4,393.66. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 368.03 points, or 1%, to 34,792.76. The Nasdaq lost 278.41 points, or 2.1%, to 13,174.65. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tumbled 46.72 points, or 2.3%, to 1,991.46.

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