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February 18, 2015 02:17 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Update

New York

Stocks are slightly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street. Traders are looking over the just-released minutes of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting. Energy stocks have been down today along with the price of crude oil.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve policymakers don't appear ready to start raising interest rates anytime soon. Minutes of the Fed's Jan. 27-28 meeting show that officials discussed the appropriate timing for beginning to raise rates. Some officials noted that wage growth has remained weak even as the unemployment rate has declined. Others noted that inflation remains below the Fed's 2 percent target. The Fed's benchmark interest rate has been at a record low near zero since December 2008.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York authorities are accusing United Parcel Service of shipping 700,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes in the state. A federal lawsuit seeks $180 million from UPS, saying the cheap cigarettes shipped from unlicensed vendors on Indian reservations increased smoking by New Yorkers while depriving the state of tax revenue. UPS denies it knowingly shipped cigarettes, saying it agreed in 2005 to stop delivering cigarettes to consumers nationwide.

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's state-run oil company says it will postpone some deep-water exploration projects in response to a steep fall in crude prices. Petroleos Mexicanos says deep-water projects that have not already begun will be delayed. Mexico gets about a third of its income from oil, recently cut $8.4 billion from this year's national budget.

LONDON (AP) - Rolls-Royce says it will jump into the highly competitive SUV market by offering a completely new all-terrain vehicle. The luxury carmaker follows BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and other high-end carmakers into the lucrative SUV market. Rolls-Royce says the new aluminum SUV will have exceptional elegance as well as the toughness needed to cross any terrain. It did not announce a target date for production or the cost of the vehicle.

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