Business Briefs – March 29, 2016

Yellen Stresses That Fed Foresees Gradual Pace of Rate Hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the Fed still envisions only a gradual pace of interest rate increases in light of global pressures that could affect the U.S. economy. But she did not specify a timetable for further hikes.

She said risks to the United States appear limited but cautioned that that assessment is subject to “considerable uncertainty.”

In light of her comments, most economists expect no hike at the Fed’s next policy meeting — April 26-27 — despite remarks last week from other Fed officials that had raised the possibility of a rate increase then.

U.S. Home Prices Rose Faster Than Incomes in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices climbed at more than double the rate of incomes in January, a trend that could ultimately create affordability challenges for buyers.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier, a slight increase from the 5.6 percent annual increase in December, according to a report Tuesday.

Home values have risen 2.6 times faster than average hourly wages. Tight supplies of homes on the market have fueled much of the price growth, as low mortgage rates and steady hiring have sparked demand.

Gov’t Panel Backs Drug For Delusions in Parkinson’s Patients

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health experts have endorsed an experimental drug intended to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that often afflict patients with Parkinson’s disease, the debilitating movement disorder.

The panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted Tuesday that the benefits of the drug from Acadia Pharmaceuticals outweigh the risks. That vote — considered a recommendation for approval — is non-binding, though the FDA often follows the advice of its panelists.

Approximately half of all Parkinson’s patients suffer from the psychotic problems, according to the FDA. There are no FDA-approved drugs currently available for the condition. Parkinson’s is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States, after Alzheimer’s.

A Rebounding Stock Market Helps Lift U.S. Consumer Confidence

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers are feeling more confident in March, with a rebounding stock market brightening their outlook.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 96.2 this month after tumbling to a revised 94 in February.

Consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions has dipped. But their outlook for the future has improved modestly.

GM Recalls Nearly 6,300 Police Cars for Steering Problem

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 6,300 police cars in the United States because the electric power-assisted steering can fail.

The recall covers Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit vehicles from the 2014 to 2016 model years. GM says corrosion on a connector causes the problem. If it happens, the cars still have manual steering, but that requires more effort to turn the wheels and increases the risk of a crash.

GM says no crashes or injuries have been reported.

The company says the problem happens because police cars often run 20 hours per day and heat can build up under the hood while idling.

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