Business Briefs – December 15, 2016

Yahoo’s Mega Breach Shows How Just How Vulnerable Data Is

NEW YORK (AP) – The revelation of Yahoo’s latest hack underscores what many Americans have known for years: All those emails, photos and other personal files stored online can easily be stolen, and there’s little anyone can do about it.

The only saving grace is that the attackers apparently did not exploit the information for fraud. But their true motives remain a mystery.

While there are a number of straightforward measures all users should take to protect themselves, relatively few people actually do. And in this case, doing so wouldn’t really have mattered. Even the most scrupulous individual countermeasures could only limit the damage.

Rates Surging 5 Weeks Postelection; Will Home Sales Weaken?

WASHINGTON (AP) – Mortgage rates are still surging five weeks after Donald Trump’s election victory. Will higher rates weaken prospective buyers’ confidence next year and dampen home sales?

While the job market is stable, the low mortgage rates that helped spur homebuying this year are disappearing in the rearview mirror.

Steadily rising rates would ultimately limit the number of possible buyers and how much they can afford to pay. And existing homeowners who might otherwise be looking for an upgrade could choose to stay put rather than face higher interest costs.

U.S. Consumer Prices Up 0.2 Percent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumer prices rose in November by the smallest amount in three months as the climb in energy prices moderated a bit and food prices remained flat.

The Labor Department said Thursday that its consumer price index increased 0.2 percent last month after a 0.4 percent October increase

Fed Has 8 Biggest U.S. Banks Shift Loss Burden to Investors

WASHINGTON (AP) – The eight biggest U.S. banks will be required to build new cushions against losses that would shift the burden to investors. The action by the Federal Reserve was the latest bid by regulators to reduce the chances of future taxpayer bailouts.

The Fed governors led by Chair Janet Yellen voted 5-0 Thursday to lay down the new requirements. The mega-banks must bulk up their capacity to absorb financial shocks by issuing equity or long-term debt equal to certain portions of total bank assets. The idea is that the cost of a huge bank’s failure would fall on investors in the bank, not on taxpayers.

Obama Administration Files Trade Challenge Against China

WASHINGTON (AP) – Amid new tensions with China, the Obama administration on Thursday launched its 15th challenge against Beijing at the Word Trade Organization, escalating a long-simmering debate over practices that U.S. officials say limit American farmers’ ability to export rice, wheat and corn to the Asian powerhouse.

The administration says it is trying to hold China to its commitment to allow set quantities of grain and corn to enter the country subject to a lower tariff rate. China agreed to the terms when it joined the WTO, the administration said in a statement announcing new the complaint.

21st Century Fox and European Broadcaster Sky Agree on Deal

NEW YORK (AP) – Rupert Murdoch’s media giant Twenty-First Century Fox has agreed to take over European broadcaster Sky PLC in an 11.7 billion pound ($14.6 billion) deal, the companies said Thursday.

The deal offers 10.75 pounds ($13.40) per share in London-based Sky, valuing the broadcaster at 18.5 billion pounds.

Twenty-First Century Fox already owns just over 39 percent of Sky. An earlier attempt to acquire the rest was scuttled by the 2011 phone-hacking scandal that rocked Murdoch’s British newspapers and the media establishment.

Border Cities Worry That Ending NAFTA Would Hurt Economies

LAREDO, Texas (AP) – Donald Trump’s only visit to the U.S.-Mexico border while running for president was a stop in Laredo that lasted less than three hours. On some days, that’s not long enough for 18-wheelers hauling foreign-made dishwashers and car batteries to lurch through the gridlocked crossing.

Trump’s campaign promise to tear apart the North American Free Trade Agreement helped win over Rust Belt voters who felt left behind by globalization. But the idea is unnerving to many people in border cities such as Laredo and El Paso or Nogales in Arizona, which have boomed under the 1994 treaty.

About 14,000 tractor-trailers cross the border daily in Laredo, the nation’s busiest inland port. Local officials say roughly one in every three jobs benefits from international trade.