Business Highlights: Slower rate hikes, holiday deals

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Most Fed officials supported slower rate hikes at the last meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) – Most Federal Reserve officials at their last meeting pledged to reduce the scope of their interest rate hikes “soon” — just before raising interest rates by a sizeable three-quarters point for a fourth straight month. Central bank policymakers saw “very little sign of inflationary pressures easing”. Still, a “substantial majority” of officials believed that smaller rate hikes “would probably soon be appropriate,” according to minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting. The Fed is widely expected to raise its short-term interest rate, which affects much consumer and corporate credit, by half a point at its next meeting in mid-December.

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$740M in Crypto Assets Recovered So Far in FTX Bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) — The company hired to freeze assets on failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX said it has so far managed to recover and secure $740 million in assets, a fraction of the potential Billions likely missing from the bankrupt company’s coffers. The figures were released Wednesday by cryptocurrency custodian firm BitGo, which shut down FTX in the hours after the company filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11.

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Shoppers are looking for deals, but inflation is making bargains elusive

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers waiting for big deals — and some much-needed relief from the rising costs of almost everything — may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year. While retailers are offering 50%, 60%, and 70% off everything from TVs to gadgets, many items will still cost more than they did last year due to inflation, and finding a real bargain can prove a challenge. According to analytics firm DataWeave, shoppers paid about 18% more for electronics and home appliances in September through October than a year ago. They paid almost 3% more for toys. ___

Small businesses and shoppers return to the Christmas markets

NEW YORK (AP) — On an early November evening, shoppers at Bryant Park Christmas Market in New York City were in the holiday spirit well before Black Friday. The scent of pine trees wafted from the candle vendors’ stalls, people snapped up gingerbread cookies and hot cider, and ice skaters twirled eights around the ice rink in the middle of the market. After two years of pandemic holidays that saw people spend more dollars online, shoppers in stores and at Christmas markets are back in force. Small businesses say it feels a lot like Christmas, both emotionally and financially. ___

Demonstrating workers beaten at Chinese iPhone factory

BEIJING (AP) – Police are beating workers protesting a wage dispute at the largest factory for Apple’s iPhone, whose new model is being delayed by controls imposed as China tries to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases. Foxconn is struggling to fill iPhone 14 orders after thousands of workers walked out of the factory in downtown Zhengzhou last month after complaining about unsafe working conditions. China’s status as an export power is based on factories like Foxconn’s that produce consumer electronics, toys and other goods in the world. The ruling Communist Party is attempting to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy like it did in early 2020.

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Stocks on Wall Street gain ground ahead of the US holiday

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks closed higher on Wall Street after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent monetary policy meeting, which showed Fed officials agreed smaller rate hikes were likely to be appropriate “soon.” . The S&P 500 was up 0.6% on Wednesday, the Nasdaq was up 1% and the Dow was up 0.3%. Deere rose after the equipment maker reported higher earnings than analysts had expected. Long-term government bond yields were slightly lower. Oil prices fell, European markets mostly closed higher and Asian markets closed mixed overnight. US markets are closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and close early on Friday.

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The number of jobless claims rises to 240,000, the highest level since August

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose to its highest level since August, but still remained low by historical standards. The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that 240,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week, up 17,000 from the week before. The four-week moving average of claims, which smoothes week-to-week volatility, rose 5,500 to 226,750. Jobless claims are an indicator of layoffs, and the current low level shows that American workers enjoy exceptional job security.

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Nigeria hopes new banknotes will curb inflation and corruption

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria has unveiled redesigned banknotes that the West African nation’s central bank says will help curb inflation and money laundering. At the unveiling of the banknotes on Wednesday, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele said the new banknotes with higher denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 naira would also spur financial inclusion and economic growth. But experts are skeptical of such results in a country that has battled chronic corruption for decades, with government officials known for plundering public funds, which has inflicted even more misery on the many struggling with poverty. Nigeria’s currency has not been redesigned in 19 years and the new initiative is the latest of policymakers in their quest for a cashless and more inclusive economy.

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The S&P 500 rose 23.68 points, or 0.6%, to 4,027.26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 95.96 points, or 0.3%, to 34,194.06. The Nasdaq gained 110.91 points, or 1%, to 11,285.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.08 points, or 0.2%, to 1,863.52.

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