European Central Bank outpaces US Fed with half-point hike
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has gone big again, with another half-point interest rate increase. The bank on Thursday also vowed a similar hike in March. It’s aggressively raising rates to fight inflation that has slowed but is still way too high at 8.5% annually. The higher benchmarks raise the costs of credit across the economy, which should help bring down demand for goods that pushes up prices. The ECB got a later start in raising rates than the U.S. Federal Reserve and as a result is now moving faster. The Fed hiked interest rates by a quarter-point Wednesday. Like the ECB, the Bank of England also went bigger with a half-point hike Thursday.
Bank of England hikes rates by half-point to tame inflation
LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has raised interest rates by half a percentage point as it sought to tame double-digit inflation that is fueling a cost-of-living crisis, public-sector strikes and fears of recession. The bank’s monetary policy committee voted Thursday to push its key rate to 4%. It’s the 10th consecutive rate increase since a post-pandemic surge in the world economy and Russia’s war in Ukraine drove inflation to 40-year highs. Economists suggest this may be the last big rate increase for Britain’s central bank as inflation begins to ease. The U.S. Federal Reserve has already started tapering its response, boosting its key rate by just a quarter-point Wednesday.
Shell profit doubles to record as war drives up energy costs
LONDON (AP) — Global energy giant Shell says annual profits doubled to a record high last year as oil and gas prices soared after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. London-based Shell Plc on Thursday posted adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for 2022 and $9.8 billion in the fourth quarter. Shell is the latest oil company to report bumper profits even as the fossil fuel industry faces increasing pressure to cut climate-changing carbon emissions. Shell is also raising its dividend payout by 15% and buying back $4 billion worth of shares. It highlights the tension between energy company shareholders seen as reaping big profits and consumers weighed down by higher costs for heating their homes and filling up their cars.
India’s Adani scraps $2.5B share sale after fraud claims
NEW DELHI (AP) — Embattled Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s flagship company says it is reviewing its fundraising options after calling off a $2.5 billion share offering that was seen as a crucial test of investor confidence. The decision followed the loss of billions of dollars in market value after a U.S.-based short-selling firm, Hindenburg Research, accused the Adani Group of “brazen” stock market manipulation and accounting fraud, among other financial abuses. The Adani Group said it wasn’t going ahead with the offering because of market volatility and an “unprecedented situation.” The company said it will return proceeds from the offering, which was sold out as of Tuesday. Hindenburg has a track record of sending stock prices of its targets tumbling.
Here’s what the Fed interest rate hike means for you
NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by a quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive. The rate increase will likely make it even costlier to borrow for homes, autos and other purchases. But if you have money to save, you’ll probably earn a bit more interest on it. The latest rate increase is smaller than the Fed’s half-point rate hike in December and its four straight three-quarter-point increases earlier last year. The slowdown reflects the fact that inflation, while still high, is easing, and some parts of the economy seem to be cooling.
British Gas sorry its agents broke into customers’ homes
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. government says is responding to “deeply shocking” revelations that debt collectors working for British Gas broke into customers’ homes to install prepay gas meters that left vulnerable people at risk of having their heating cut off. British Gas parent company Centrica PLC said it had halted the “unacceptable” practice. The Times of London reported that debt collectors obtained court warrants to enter the homes of indebted customers and installed meters that require up front payments. The newspaper said the customers included a single father with three young children whose door was forced open by a locksmith and a mother with a 4-week-old baby. The U.K.’s energy regular said Thursday it was investigating
US futures mixed after Fed hike with more earnings on tap
Futures on Wall Street were mixed one day after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is moving toward lower inflation but that more interest rate increases are planned. Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.4% before the bell Thursday, while futures for the Dow fell 0.4%, one day after markets climbed to their highest levels since summer. The rally Wednesday came after the Fed increased its key lending rate by 0.25 percentage points, smaller than previous hikes. Thursday brings another slew of corporate earnings reports, with Alphabet, Amazon and Apple posting results after the bell. Ford and Starbucks also report.
African countries lack ‘immediate access’ to cholera vaccine
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Africa’s public health agency says countries with deadly cholera outbreaks on the continent have no “immediate access” to vaccines amid a global supply shortage. The acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told journalists on Thursday that the agency is working with the World Health Organization and the vaccine alliance GAVI on ways to obtain more doses. He said the Africa CDC is also working with two local manufacturers to explore if their facilities can be repurposed to manufacture cholera vaccines. WHO and partners agencies recommended in October that countries temporarily switch to using a single dose.
Fed lifts rate by quarter-point but says inflation is easing
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes. At the same time, Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference that the Fed recognizes that the pace of inflation has cooled — a signal that it could be nearing the end of its rate increases. The stock and bond markets rallied during his news conference, suggesting that they anticipate a forthcoming pause in the Fed’s credit tightening.
EU assembly lifts immunity of 2 lawmakers linked to scandal
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Parliament has removed the protective immunity of two lawmakers linked to one of the EU’s biggest corruption scandals. Thursday’s vote paves the way for Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino to be questioned by Belgian investigators. Both men have said through their lawyers that they are willing to cooperate. Live television images showed that Tarabella voted in favor of having his own immunity lifted. The two deny any links to the scandal, in which Qatari and Moroccan officials are suspected of offering bribes to influence decisions at the parliament. Qatar and Morocco have also vehemently denied involvement. Four people, including a senior lawmaker and parliamentary assistant, have been charged with corruption so far.
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