Business Briefs – February 8, 2016

Yellen Will Testify Amid Predictions Of Slower Rate Hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Things looked so clear back when the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate from record lows, and it signaled the likelihood of four more hikes in 2016.

Panicky financial markets, global weakness and slumps in key U.S. economic sectors have since clouded the outlook.

So are there more hikes ahead? Chair Janet Yellen is expected to address Congress this week and outline the Fed’s outlook. It’s unclear how much she’ll say about the likely timetable for rate increases.

Chipotle Urges Workers To Stay Home if They’re Sick

NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle kept all its U.S. locations shuttered early Monday as executives went over new food safety procedures. The presentation for workers comes after Chipotle has been slammed by a series of food scares. Co-CEO Monty Moran noted two of the four incidents were the result of norovirus, which is typically caused by sick workers. He urged workers to stay home if they feel ill.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. postponed opening its restaurants for four hours to 3 p.m. local time Monday.

Senator Scrutinizes Pharma Links On Government Pain Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-ranking Senate Democrat is scrutinizing links between pharmaceutical companies and government advisers who recently criticized efforts to reduce painkiller prescribing.

Sen. Ron Wyden says he has a “number of concerns” about how panelists were selected for an advisory panel on pain issues that includes government experts, outside academics and patient advocates. The inquiry follows a recent AP story that found nearly a third of panelists at a December meeting of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee had apparent financial ties to painkiller manufacturers.

After Big Loss, Credit Suisse CEO Asks Board: Cut My Bonus

GENEVA (AP) — The new CEO of Credit Suisse has proposed that its board make a “significant” cut in his bonus after the Swiss bank posted disappointing earnings last week and announced 4,000 job cuts.

The bank on Monday confirmed comments by Tidjane Thiam in an interview published in German-language media.

He proposed the biggest cut among the bank’s management team because he said he could not “demand sacrifices from others and not make any myself.”

Feds Find Fiat Chrysler Gear Shifters Can Confuse Drivers

DETROIT (AP) — Electronic gear shifters on some newer Fiat Chrysler SUVs and cars are so confusing that drivers have exited the vehicles with the engines running and while still in gear, causing crashes and serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has doubled the number of vehicles involved in an investigation of the problem, but it stopped short of seeking a recall. The agency found more than 100 crashes and over a dozen injuries, mostly in Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The agency upgraded the probe to an engineering analysis, which is a step closer to a recall.

Quality Control Chief Leaves Scandal-Hit Volkswagen

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — VW says its QC chief is leaving the company.

Frank Tuch is being replaced as the company deals with a scandal over diesel vehicles equipped to cheat on emissions testing. He is being succeeded by Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, head of technical development at the company’s commercial vehicles brand. A Volkswagen statement Monday says Tuch is “leaving the company at his own request.”

Govt Creates New Student Aid Enforcement Office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking new steps to protect students amid increased scrutiny of for-profit colleges and other schools.

The Education Department said Monday that it was creating a new student aid enforcement unit that will “respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions.”

Critics have complained the government didn’t move swiftly enough to take action against for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year amid fraud allegations, closing schools and leaving thousands of students with hefty student debt and frustrated efforts at earning degrees.