Business Briefs – February 22, 2016

U.S. Would Let Apple Keep Software To Help FBI Hack iPhone

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration told a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday it would be willing to allow Apple Inc. to retain possession of and later destroy specialized software it has been ordered to design to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone used by the gunman in December’s mass shootings in California.

The government made clear that it was open to less intrusive options in a new legal filing intended to blunt public criticism by Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, who said the software would be “too dangerous to create” because it would threaten the digital privacy of millions of customers worldwide.

U.S. to Factories, Sellers: Make Sure Hoverboards Are Safe

NEW YORK (AP) – The government is cracking down on hoverboards.

In a letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers, U.S. regulators said they will seize or recall any of the of the two-wheeled, self-balancing scooters if they fail to meet recently-released safety requirements.

EU Strikes Deal on Reform Sought by Britain

BRUSSELS (AP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron has won a hard-fought deal for a less intrusive European Union after two days of tense talks with EU leaders, a commitment he said he needed to persuade UK voters the country should stay in the bloc.

The agreement is seen as a key stepping stone to the in-out referendum in Britain on continued EU membership that could come as soon as this summer.

U.S. Consumer Prices Show Signs Of Acceleration in January

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January, as the rising costs of housing and health care were largely offset by cheaper oil.

But the annual pace of inflation showed signs of acceleration. The Labor Department said Friday that prices have risen 1.4 percent over the past 12 months, compared to a year ago when annual inflation was close to zero. Consumer prices climbed at the fastest annual rate since October 2014.

Higher Interest Rates Boost Fannie Mae Profit

NEW YORK (AP) – Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company, said its net income in the fourth quarter nearly doubled on higher interest rates.

It also said Friday that it expects to pay the U.S. Department of Treasury $2.9 billion in dividends next month.

With that payment, Fannie Mae will have paid the Treasury $147.6 billion, above the $116.1 billion it received in government bailouts.

China Auto Sales Rise Again in January on Strong SUV Demand

HONG KONG (AP) – New car sales in China rose by more than 9 percent last month as strong demand for SUVs offset a decline in sales of sedans, an industry group reported Friday.

Sales of cars, SUVs and minivans in the world’s biggest auto market totaled 2.23 million vehicles in January, up 9.3 percent from a year earlier, according to figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Total vehicle sales last month, including buses and trucks, rose 7.1 percent to 2.45 million.