The Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is growing only moderately and still needs the support of its low interest-rate policies. Following a two-day policy meeting, the Fed says it will continue buying $85 billion a month in bonds to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage more borrowing and spending. In a statement, the Fed again notes that budget policies in Washington have restrained growth, but it makes no mention of the 16-day government shutdown.
- The news was expected, so the Fed's decision not to trim its stimulus program isn't doing much to bolster stocks. After setting new closing highs yesterday, the Dow and the S&P 500 are in retreat this afternoon. The Dow was off about 100 points, while the S&P was down about 15 points. The Nasdaq was more than 30 points lower.
- The Washington Post is reporting that the National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world. Over the span of 30 days, the Post says, field collectors processed and sent back more than 180 million records, ranging from "metadata" that indicates who sent or received emails and when, to content such as text, audio and video. Google says it was not aware of the activity, while Yahoo says it has not given the government access to its data centers.
- Health and Human Services says consumers filling out online applications for health insurance through the federal website can "trust that the information they're providing is protected by stringent security standards." Republican lawmakers raised security questions about HealthCare.gov at a hearing today, citing a government memo that shows officials raised concerns that a lack of testing posed a "high" risk. HHS maintains "the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure."
- Lenovo has hired Ashton Kutcher to help design and pitch its latest line of tablets. The computer-maker calls the tech-savvy actor a "product engineer" who will bring ideas along with his image. The star of the Steve Jobs biopic and the sitcom "Two and a Half Men" has invested venture capital in more than a dozen Silicon Valley startups.
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