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May 22, 2013 01:46 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks have changed course, turning lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street. There are mixed signals regarding the Federal Reserve's commitment to continuing its extraordinary stimulus measures. Stocks jumped this morning after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress it's too soon to pull back on stimulus efforts. But minutes of the last Fed meeting suggest some members may be soon be ready to start scaling back the $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bonds the Fed has been purchasing.

  • Some Federal Reserve policymakers favor scaling back the Fed's efforts to maintain record-low long-term interest rates as early as this summer, if the economy shows strong and sustained growth. That's according to just-released minutes of the Fed's April 30-May 1 meeting. But earlier today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress it's too soon for the Fed to slow its stimulus programs. The Fed next meets on June 18-19.
  • Target shares are sliding after the discount chain reported a 29 percent drop in first-quarter profit. The company, based in Minneapolis, also cut its annual profit outlook. Target is the latest in a string of companies including rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that say bad weather and financial pressures like the higher payroll tax have squeezed business in the first couple months of the year.
  • The House has taken up a Republican-sponsored bill that would speed approval of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. Supporters say the bill, sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, is needed to ensure the long-delayed pipeline is built. The project, which first was proposed in 2008, would carry oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  • New Jersey officials have seized inventory and demanded records from 29 bars and restaurants that allegedly sold low-quality liquor to patrons who thought they were buying premium brands. Dubbed "Operation Swill," the yearlong state investigation discovered that establishments had filled premium brand bottles with cheaper booze in an effort to fool customers and increase their profits.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks

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