- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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Fed raises key interest rate and foresees 3 hikes in 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve has raised a key interest rate in response to a strengthening U.S. economy and expectations of higher inflation, and it foresees three more rate hikes in 2017.

The Fed’s move will mean modestly higher rates on some loans.

Wednesday’s action signaled the Fed’s belief that the U.S. economy has improved over the past year after a rough start to 2016 and can withstand slightly higher borrowing rates. Its expectation of three rate increases in 2017 is up from two from its forecast three months ago.

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Yahoo says hackers stole information from over 1B accounts

NEW YORK (AP) - Yahoo says it believes hackers stole data from more than one billion user accounts in August 2013.

The Sunnyvale, California, company says it’s a different breach from the one it disclosed in September, when it said 500 million accounts were exposed. That new hack revelation raises questions about whether Verizon will try to change the terms of its $4.8 billion proposed acquisition of Yahoo.

Yahoo says the information stolen may include names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and security questions and answers. The company says it believes bank-account information and payment-card data were not affected.

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Stocks fall after Fed rate hike, dollar and bond yields jump

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks had their worst day in two months after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday on the back of a strengthening job market and surprised investors by increasing its forecast for rate hikes next year. The dollar’s value jumped against other currencies, and bond yields climbed to their highest levels in years.

The rate increase, which was only the Fed’s second in the last decade, was widely expected across the market. But investors were surprised to see the Fed project three more increases for 2017, up from a prior forecast of two. Higher rates can slow corporate profits and economic growth.

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Uber self-driving cars hit the streets of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Uber is bringing a small number of self-driving cars to its ride-hailing service in San Francisco - a move likely to excite the city’s tech-savvy population and certain to antagonize California regulators.

The Wednesday launch in Uber’s hometown expands a public pilot program the company started in Pittsburgh in September. The testing lets everyday people experience the cars as Uber works to identify glitches before expanding the technology’s use.

California law, however, requires a test permit for “autonomous vehicles,” and Uber does not have one. The company argues that the law doesn’t apply because its cars require a human backup - so while they are self-driving, they are not autonomous.

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US retail sales barely rise at start of holiday shopping

WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans increased their retail spending just slightly in November, a possible sign of lackluster holiday shopping. Retail sales rose only 0.1 percent in November, after a downwardly-revised 0.6 percent growth in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Consumers bumped up their purchases at restaurants and furnishers last month. But they also trimmed spending at auto dealers and department stores, limiting the overall advance in retail sales.

“This report puts a slight blemish on an otherwise solid string of U.S. economic data,” said Michael Dolega, senior economist at TD Bank. “The disappointing headline suggests that consumers are yet to fully open their wallets despite continued job and income gains.”

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Cuisinart recalls 8M food processors; broken blades reported

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Cuisinart is voluntarily recalling about 8 million food processors after dozens of consumers reported finding pieces of broken blades in their food.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says there have been 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries from the broken blades. Cuisinart’s parent company, Conair, announced the recall with the CPSC Tuesday.

The recalled processors were sold in the United States and Canada from July 1996 to December 2015. Only processors with four rivets in the blades are included in the recall. Affected consumers can receive a new blade for free from Cuisinart.

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Goldman names 2 chief operating officers to replace Cohn

NEW YORK (AP) - Goldman Sachs named two executives to share the chief operating officer role, replacing Gary Cohn, who is leaving the investment bank to join President-elect Donald Trump’s economic policy team.

Harvey Schwartz and David Solomon will become co-chief operating officers on Jan. 1, the New York company said Wednesday. Schwartz will also keep his current role as chief financial officer until the end of April and then will be replaced by R. Martin Chavez. Solomon is currently the co-head of Goldman’s investment banking division. Both Schwartz and Solomon will also be presidents of the bank.

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Tainted peanut butter leads to $11.2M penalty a decade later

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - A decade after hundreds of Americans got sick from eating Peter Pan peanut butter contaminated with salmonella, the company that sold it made an embarrassing courtroom guilty plea and agreed to pay the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case.

The president of a ConAgra subsidiary entered a guilty plea on behalf of his company Tuesday to a single misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. A U.S. District Court judge then approved a deal ConAgra reached with prosecutors to pay an $8 million fine plus $3.2 million in cash forfeitures.

The plea deal resolved a long criminal investigation into a nationwide salmonella outbreak blamed on tainted peanut butter that sickened at least 625 people in 47 states.

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Huff, puff and explode: E-cigarette fires, injuries on rise

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - Accidents in which e-cigarettes explode have been recorded with increasing frequency over the past year as use of e-cigarettes has climbed, with faulty batteries seen as the suspected culprit. The industry maintains e-cigarettes are safe when used properly.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which started regulating e-cigarettes in May, identified about 66 explosions in 2015 and early 2016, after recording 92 explosions from 2009 to September 2015.

The problems with the devices are linked to their lithium-ion batteries, which help vaporize liquid nicotine into a mist that distributors and some health experts say is far less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

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BP relocating onshore division from Houston to Denver

DENVER (AP) - Oil and gas company BP said Wednesday it will move headquarters staff for its onshore division from Houston to Denver because of the region’s importance as an energy hub.

David Lawler, CEO of the BP Lower 48 division, said there are increasing business opportunities in the Rockies, where the company has about two-thirds of its oil and natural gas production and proven reserves and previously had a significant presence.

The company’s U.S. Lower 48 onshore operations covers five states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. The business produces natural gas, along with oil, gas liquids and other products.

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1 small delivery for a man, 1 giant leap for Amazon, drones

ATLANTA (AP) - Drone delivery has begun. On Dec. 7, a bag of popcorn, along with an Amazon Fire TV stick, left a warehouse in the U.K. and 13 minutes later, both were accepted by an Amazon customer, one of two who had agreed to be part of the test program.

A video posted by Amazon shows a fully autonomous drone, no humans involved, taking off from the warehouse and flying over fields to deposit the package just outside the customer’s home.

Amazon, with drones, aims to make deliveries in 30 minutes or less. Packages must weigh five pounds or less and can only be delivered during the day and in clear weather. The Seattle-based company plans to expand the trial to hundreds of users.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 18.44 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,253.28. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 118.68 points, or 0.6 percent, to 19,792.53. The Nasdaq composite fell 27.16, or 0.5 percent, to 5,436.67.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.94 to settle at $51.04 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.82 to $53.90 a barrel in London. Natural gas rose nearly 7 cents to settle at $3.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell nearly 2 cents to settle at $1.53 a gallon.

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