Business highlights: Slower rate hikes, holiday deals

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Most Fed officials at the last meeting supported a slower rate hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Federal Reserve officials at their latest meeting backed tapering the size of their rate hikes “soon” — just before raising their benchmark rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for the fourth straight time. Central bank policymakers saw “very few signs that inflationary pressures are easing.” Still, a “significant majority” of officials believed that smaller rate hikes were “likely to be appropriate soon,” according to the minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise its key short-term interest rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, by half a point at its next meeting in mid-December.

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$740 million in crypto assets recovered in FTX bankruptcy so far

NEW YORK (AP) — The company tasked with freezing assets at failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says it has been able to recover and secure $740 million in assets so far, a fraction of the potential billions likely missing from the treasury of the bankrupt company. The numbers were disclosed on Wednesday by cryptocurrency custody company BitGo, which FTX hired in the hours after the company filed for bankruptcy on November 11.

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

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers looking for great deals — and some much-needed relief from the rising costs of just about everything — may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year. Although retailers advertise sales of 50%, 60% and 70% off everything from TVs to gadgets, many items will still cost more than last year due to inflation and finding a real bargain can be a challenge . From September to October, shoppers paid roughly 18 percent more for electronics and appliances than a year ago, according to analyst firm DataWeave. They pay nearly 3% more for toys. ___

Small businesses and shoppers are returning to the holiday markets

NEW YORK (AP) — On a recent evening in early November, shoppers at New York’s Bryant Park Holiday Market were in a festive mood well ahead of Black Friday. The scent of pine wafted from candle vendors’ booths, people grabbed gingerbread cookies, and hot cider and ice skaters spun figure eights around the rink in the center of the market. After two years of pandemic holidays when people spent more dollars online, shoppers are once again active in stores and at holiday markets. Small businesses say it’s starting to feel like Christmas, both emotionally and financially. ___

Protesting workers beaten at Chinese iPhone factory

BEIJING (AP) — Police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at Apple’s biggest iPhone factory, whose new model is being delayed by controls imposed as China tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Foxconn is struggling to fulfill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of workers walked out of the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions. China’s status as an export power is based on factories like Foxconn that make the world’s consumer electronics, toys and other goods. The ruling Communist Party is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shuttering factories and the rest of its economy, as it did in early 2020.

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Stocks rise on Wall Street ahead of the US holiday

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting that showed Fed officials agreed smaller rate hikes were likely to be appropriate “soon.” The S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Wednesday, the Nasdaq added 1% and the Dow rose 0.3%. Deere rose after the equipment maker reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations. Long-term Treasury yields were slightly lower. Oil prices fell, with European markets closing mostly higher and Asian markets closing mixed overnight. US markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday.

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Jobless claims rose to 240,000, the highest level since August

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits rose to the highest level since August, but still remains low by historical standards. The Labor Department said Wednesday that 240,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week, up 17,000 from the week before. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, rose 5,500 to 226,750. Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs, and the current lows show that American workers are enjoying exceptional job security .

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Nigeria hopes the new banknotes will curb inflation and corruption

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria has unveiled a new banknote design that the West African nation’s central bank says will help curb inflation and money laundering. At the unveiling of the notes on Wednesday, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said the new notes with higher denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 naira will also boost financial inclusion and economic growth. But experts are skeptical of such results in a country that has struggled with chronic corruption for decades, with government officials notorious for looting public funds, causing more hardship for many struggling in poverty. Nigeria’s currency has not been revised in 19 years and the new initiative is the latest by politicians 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 added 95.96 points, or 0.3%, to 34,194.06. The Nasdaq gained 110.91 points, or 1 percent, 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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