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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

March 19, 2014, 1:31 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

The Federal Reserve is trimming its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion, saying the economy looks strong enough to support further improvements in the job market. Following two-day policy setting meeting, the Fed also is reaffirming its plan to keep short-term interest rates low but has dropped mention of a target unemployment rate. Stocks were flat most of the day in anticipation of the Fed's statement. The major indexes have now moved lower.

  • Federal Reserve officials expect the U.S. economy to grow at a steady if modest pace in 2014 despite weather-related setbacks this winter. The Fed forecasts growth of 2.8 percent to 3 percent this year, a bit lower than its December projection. The Fed expects unemployment to fall further this year than it thought in December, dropping to 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent by the end of this year.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder says it's the largest financial penalty ever imposed on an auto company. The government has announced a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota over its handling of safety issues involving unintended acceleration. It also filed a criminal charge alleging the automaker defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about the issues. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, an independent monitor will review policies, practices and procedures at the company.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration says Boeing's 787 jetliner is safe, despite problems that have plagued it since its rollout, including a fire that forced a redesign of the plane's batteries. After a yearlong review, the agency says the 787 was "soundly designed" and "met its intended safety level." It also says Boeing and the FAA had "effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification."
  • Cheerios are no longer made with genetically modified ingredients, but the switch hasn't yet translated to a boost in sales. General Mills CEO Ken Powell says the company has received supportive letters and online comments for its decision, but "not really seeing anything" in terms of a sales lift. The company announced it would start making its plain Cheerios without GMOs after a campaign by the group Green America.

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