Business Briefs – August 17, 2016

Fed Minutes: Conditions Could ‘Soon Warrant’ a Rate Hike

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve officials believed last month that near-term risks to the U.S. economy had subsided and that an interest rate increase could soon be warranted. But they did not indicate when they would likely raise rates.

The minutes of their July 26-27 meeting show that officials were encouraged by a rebound in job growth. They also took note of a stabilization of financial markets after a bout of turbulence triggered by Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union. But a key factor holding the Fed officials back was the stubbornly slow rate of inflation.

Jury Finds Investment Banker Guilty of Insider Trading

NEW YORK (AP) – An investment banker was convicted of insider trading charges Wednesday after a jury concluded he gave tips about mergers and acquisitions to his father, enabling over $1 million in illegal profits.

Sean Stewart, 35, testified during the two-week federal court trial, insisting he had no idea his father was sharing secrets with a broker to make trades ahead of public announcements on five separate deals that he oversaw while working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Perella Weinberg partners LP. Sentencing was set for Feb. 17 for the Manhattan resident.

In June, Airlines Improved On-Time Performance From 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) – Airlines were running on time more often in June than they did last summer and travelers seemed to be finding less to complain about.

But that was before computer outages this month at Delta and last month at Southwest led to more than 4,000 flight cancellations, widespread delays and travel nightmares.

The Transportation Department said Wednesday that 78 percent of flights on major U.S. airlines arrived on time in June, up from 74.8 percent in June 2015. Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines had the best on-time ratings. American Airlines had the worst.

Lowe’s Cashes in on Housing Rally, Just Not as Much as Rival

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The nation’s biggest home improvement stores may sell many of the same goods, but the benefits of a sustained U.S. housing recovery seems to be streaming mostly toward one of them.

Lowe’s reported disappointing sales growth at existing stores, its second-quarter profit was short of most expectations and the company cut its profit expectations for the year.

The quarter looked even more lackluster because it came one day after U.S. data revealed a housing sector in full rebound mode and a quarterly earnings report from Home Depot, which posted record second-quarter sales and profits. The contrast sent shares of Lowe’s tumbling.

Cisco Laying Off 5,500 Employees, Or 7 Percent of Workforce

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Cisco Systems says it will lay off 5,500 employees as the internet gear maker scrambles to adapt to technology changes that have reduced demand for its main products.

The shake-up announced Wednesday means about 7 percent of Cisco’s roughly 74,000 workers will lose their jobs beginning this summer.

The purge is the latest example of the upheaval that has rocked some of the world’s oldest and biggest technology companies as the relentless march of innovation forces them to head in new directions in search of revenue growth.