Business Highlights: Soft landing, crypto in Washington
Powell: ‘Soft’ economic landing may be out of Fed’s control
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, fresh off winning Senate confirmation for a second term earlier in the day, acknowledged for the first time Thursday that high inflation and economic weakness overseas could thwart his efforts to avoid causing a recession. For weeks, Powell has portrayed the Fed’s drive to raise interest rates as consistent with a so-called “soft landing” for the economy. Under that scenario, the Fed would manage to tighten borrowing costs enough to cool the economy and curb inflation without going so far as to tip the economy into recession. But in an interview on NPR’s “Marketplace,” Powell conceded that that balancing act — which many economists have said they doubt the Fed can achieve — could be undercut by economic slowdowns in Europe and China.
Crypto comes to Washington. Will the millions buy influence?
WASHINGTON (AP) — Erin Houchin braced for the worst when a mysterious, well-financed group started buying television ads last month in her highly competitive southern Indiana congressional race. Houchin assumed she would face a negative blitz, like the one that crushed her in 2016 when she ran for the same seat. But, in fact, the opposite happened. American Dream Federal Action, a super political action committee financed by a cryptocurrency CEO, saturated the district with ads promoting Houchin as a “Trump Tough” conservative who would “stop the socialists in Washington.” That push helped secure her victory last week in a Republican primary.
Senate confirms Powell for 2nd term as Fed fights inflation
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday confirmed Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair, giving bipartisan backing to Powell’s high-stakes efforts to curb the highest inflation in four decades. The 80-19 vote reflected broad support in Congress for the Fed’s drive to combat surging prices through a series of sharp interest rate hikes that could extend well into next year. The Fed’s goal is to slow borrowing and spending enough to ease the inflation pressures. Since February, when his first term expired, Powell had been leading the central bank in a temporary capacity. He faces a difficult and risky task in trying to quell inflation without weakening the economy so much as to cause a recession.
Crypto meltdown prompts Yellen to call for new regulation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, responding to the recent sharp decline in the value of cryptocurrencies, said Thursday that additional federal regulation was needed to respond to the wave of speculative investment in the currency whose secrecy is an essential part of its appeal. “We really need a regulatory framework to guard against the risks,” Yellen said of cryptocurrencies called stable coins, during a House committee hearing Thursday. Citing the rapid rise in use of digital assets, she added, “Really, we need a comprehensive framework so that there are no gaps in the regulation.” Stable coins are a type of cryptocurrency pegged to a specific value, usually the dollar, another currency or gold.
US stocks end mixed after another day of erratic trading
NEW YORK (AP) — Another erratic day of trading on Wall Street ended with an uneven finish for the major stock indexes Thursday, after the market reversed most of an early slide in the final hour of trading. The S&P 500 closed only 0.1% lower after having been down 1.9% earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, while the Nasdaq rose 0.1%. Trading on Wall Street has been volatile, with indexes prone to sharp swings from one day to the next, or within a single day, as investors try to shield their portfolios from the impact of the highest inflation in decades and rising interest rates as the Federal Reserve moves to tame surging prices.
Tesla, Twitter shares drop as Elon Musk’s legal issues grow
DETROIT (AP) — Shares of Tesla and Twitter have tumbled this week as investors deal with the fallout and potential legal issues surrounding Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his $44 billion bid to buy the social media platform. Of the two, Musk’s electric vehicle company has fared worse, with its stock down almost 16% so far this week to $728. Twitter shares fell 9.5% for the week, closing Thursday at $45.08. Both stocks have taken a bigger hit than the S&P 500, which is down 4.7% for the week. Along with malaise in the broader markets, investors have had to weigh legal troubles for Musk, as well as the possibility that his acquisition of Twitter could be a distraction from running the world’s most valuable automaker.
US producer prices surge 11% in April as food prices jump
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. producer prices soared 11% in April from a year earlier, a hefty gain that indicates high inflation will remain a burden for consumers and businesses in the months ahead. The Labor Department said Thursday that its producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches consumers — climbed 0.5% in April from March. That is a slowdown from the previous month, however, when it jumped 1.6%. The report included some signs that price increases are moderating, but at a painfully high level. The year-over-year increase in April fell from the 11.5% annual gain in March, the first decline in the yearly data since December 2020.
Managers fired from Twitter amid Musk buyout turmoil
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter fired two of its top managers Thursday, the latest sign of internal turmoil amid Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s planned buyout of the company. One Twitter general manager, Kayvon Beykpour, is leaving after 7 years. In a series of tweets Thursday, Beykpour said CEO Parag Agrawal “asked me to leave after letting me know that he wants to take the team in a different direction.” Bruce Falck, Twitter’s revenue and product lead, was also fired, according to a tweet that has since been deleted. His Twitter bio now says “unemployed.” “I dedicate this Tweet to those engineers and thank you ALL for the opportunity to serve alongside you.
The S&P 500 fell 5.10 points, or 0.1%, to 3,930.08. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 103.81 points, or 0.3%, to 31,730.30. The Nasdaq added 6.73 points, or 0.1%, to 11,370.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 21.24 points, or 1.2%, to 1,739.38.