Business Highlights: Fed’s risky pursuit, Raskin nomination
Federal Reserve to begin risky pursuit of a ‘soft landing’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve on Wednesday will launch one of the most difficult tasks a central bank can attempt: Raise borrowing costs enough to slow growth and tame high inflation, but not so much as to topple the economy into recession. With a war raging in Europe and price increases at a four-decade high, Fed Chair Jerome Powell will seek to engineer a “soft landing”: A gradual slowdown in economic activity that helps curb surging price hikes, while keeping the job market and economy expanding. Yet many economists worry that with the price of oil and other commodities spiking, the additional burden of higher interest rates could choke off growth entirely.
Raskin nomination for Fed in peril as Democrat opposes pick
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin says he opposes the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to a key position on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. The West Virginia Democrat’s stance endangers Raskin’s prospects of winning Senate confirmation. Her nomination has been stuck in the Senate Banking Committee after Republicans last month unanimously refused to vote on it in an effort to prevent her being approved on a party-line vote. Manchin is not a member of the committee but his opposition means that for Raskin to win Senate approval, she would need to pick up a Republican to offset a Manchin “no” vote.
Russian airlines will keep planes leased from foreign firms
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law letting Russian airlines register planes leased to them by foreign companies and continue flying them. Russian state media said the law will let Russian airlines keep their fleets and operate foreign planes on routes within Russia. Many of the planes used by Russian airlines are leased from foreign companies, including several in Ireland. Last month, the EU banned the sale or leasing of planes to Russia as part of sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. Various estimates place the number of foreign-owned planes operated by Russian airlines at around 500 or more, and the vast majority of them were inside Russia when the war started Feb. 24.
Once a powerful symbol in Russia, McDonald’s withdraws
Two months after the Berlin Wall fell, another powerful symbol opened its doors in the middle of Moscow: a gleaming new McDonald’s. It was the first American fast-food restaurant to enter the Soviet Union. But now, McDonald’s is temporarily closing its 850 restaurants in Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion. Vlad Vexler remembers waiting in a two-hour line at the first McDonald’s in 1990. He says McDonald’s was a sign of optimism that never really materialized. But some Russians say they won’t miss McDonald’s. Entrepreneur Yekaterina Kochergina said the closure is an opportunity for a Russian food brand to enter the market.
Stocks sway lower and crude oil slides to $100 per barrel
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks swayed lower on Wall Street Monday, crude oil prices fell and bond yields rose sharply as waves of market-moving forces crashed into each other. Markets remained jumbled as investors tried to assess the various impacts on the economy from the war in Ukraine, upcoming rate hikes from the Federal Reserve and new virus lockdowns in China. The S&P 500 gave up an early gain and closed 0.7% lower, the Nasdaq fell 2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed just barely in the green. The 10-year Treasury yield, a benchmark for mortgage rates, touched its highest level since the summer of 2019.
EU imposes 4th set of sanctions against Russia for war
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has announced that it has approved a new set of sanctions to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. France says the 27-nation bloc “has approved a fourth package of sanctions targeting individuals and entities involved in the aggression against Ukraine, as well as several sectors of the Russian economy.” The French EU presidency said the bloc also approved a declaration to the World Trade Organization to suspend the application of the most-favored-nation clause for Russia and suspend the examination of Belarus’ application for accession to the trade body. If Russia is suspended, its companies would no longer receive special treatment throughout the EU.
UK to end all COVID-19 travel rules ahead of Easter break
LONDON (AP) — Britain says all remaining coronavirus measures for travelers, including passenger locator forms and the requirement for unvaccinated people be tested for COVID-19 before and after their arrivals, will end Friday. Officials say that should make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people “can travel just like in the good old days.” The announcement came Monday as coronavirus infections were rising in all four parts of the U.K. — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — for the first time since the end of January. The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 is also going up. Scientists blame the new infections in England on a sub-variant of omicron.
War censorship exposes Putin’s leaky internet controls
BOSTON (AP) — Russia’s increasingly strict online censorship measures have paradoxically exposed major shortcomings in the Kremlin’s efforts to make the Russian internet a powerful tool of surveillance and social control akin to China’s so-called Great Firewall. Any Russian with a modicum of tech smarts can circumvent Kremlin attempts to starve the population of fact. That has put foreign providers of internet bandwidth and associated services in a bind. They face public pressure to punish the Russian state for its war on Ukraine. But they are wary of helping stifle a free flow of information that can counter Kremlin disinformation.
The S&P 500 dropped 31.20 points, or 0.7%, to 4,173.11. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.05 points, or less than 0.1%, to 32,945.24. The Nasdaq tumbled 262.59 points, or 2%, to 12,581.22. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost 37.95 points, or 1.9%, to 1,941.72.