Business Briefs – January 7, 2018

Modest U.S. Hiring and Slow Wage Gains Keep Wall Street Happy

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hiring by U.S. employers slowed a bit as 2017 ended and pay growth was sluggish. Yet that’s actually how investors, at least, like it.

The unspectacular pace of job growth and wage increases is welcome news for financial markets because if the numbers were much higher, investors would grow concerned that the Federal Reserve might accelerate its interest rate hikes to ward off potential increases in inflation. Higher rates, in turn, could slow the economy and send stocks down.

Investors again sent stock prices higher Friday, one day after the Dow Jones industrial average broke through the 25,000 mark for the first time.

Your Paycheck May Be Going Up Soon Because of Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) – Millions of working Americans should start seeing fatter paychecks as early as next month, as a result of the recent tax cuts recently passed by Congress. But the precise timing hasn’t been fixed yet. And some employees should be aware that less money withheld doesn’t necessarily mean that their tax burden will shrink next year.

Border Inspections of Electronic Devices Hits Record High

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government inspected a record number of international travelers’ electronic devices last year, expanding a practice that has drawn alarm from privacy advocates. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it inspected 30,200 phones and other electronic devices in fiscal year 2017 — a nearly 60 percent spike from 2016. The government says the spike is due, in part, to the fact that people now carry more devices, often several at a time.

Alaska May Open Up Again For Oil Leasing, But Risks Linger

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The Trump administration is pursuing petroleum lease sales in Arctic waters but an analyst says potential bidders may find other areas more attractive. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday proposed a wide range of petroleum lease sales in U.S. waters including 19 in Alaska and six within Arctic waters. The director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, Mark Barteau, says oil companies may consider the challenges of Arctic offshore oil exploration and choose to invest elsewhere.

Transcripts Show Fed Divided In 2012 Over Bond Purchases

WASHINGTON (AP) – Transcripts released Friday show sharp divisions inside the Federal Reserve in 2012 over the need for a third round of bond purchases to boost a lagging economy. The doubters, including the presumed incoming Fed chair Jerome Powell, expressed fears that the risks outweighed what they believed would be small benefits. Even then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was pushing for the move, conceded that whatever action the Fed took was “going to be a shot in the proverbial dark.”

Takata Adds 3.3 Million Air Bag Inflators to Massive Recall

DETROIT (AP) – Japanese air bag maker Takata is recalling an additional 3.3 million faulty air bag inflators as it expands the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

The latest recalls cover frontal air bags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla. Automakers will provide specific models in paperwork that will be filed later this month with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Notices of the expanded recalls were posted Saturday on the agency’s website.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and fill air bags quickly in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high humidity and temperatures and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister. That can hurl hot shrapnel into unsuspecting drivers and passengers.

At least 20 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured.

African-American Unemployment Hit Record Low in December

WASHINGTON (AP) – Years of steady hiring and economic growth have delivered a cumulative benefit for at least one group that hasn’t always shared in America’s prosperity. The unemployment rate for African-Americans reached 6.8 percent in December, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data in 1972.