Business Briefs – April 30, 2017

U.S. Economy Expanded At Weakest Pace in 3 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending. The result fell far below the ambitious growth targets President Donald Trump is pledging to achieve once his economic program is adopted.

Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter. That was less than what economists were expecting and followed a gain of 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

Appeals Court Upholds Decision To Block Anthem Bid for Cigna

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal appeals court has left in place a decision blocking Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem’s bid to buy rival Cigna, saying that a bigger company is not better for consumers. The 2-1 decision Friday upholds a federal judge’s ruling in February that said the proposed $48 billion acquisition would further reduce competition in the already concentrated health insurance market.

Alex Acosta Sworn In As U.S. Labor Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence has sworn in Alex Acosta as the nation’s new secretary of labor, filling out President Donald Trump’s Cabinet as he approached his 100th day in office. The oath-taking came after the Senate voted 60-38 for his confirmation. As labor secretary, Acosta is in charge of advocating on behalf of American workers and enforcing the some 180 federal laws related to the U.S. workforce.

Court Agrees to Hold Off Ruling On Carbon Restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) – Obama-era clean air rules are under threat after a federal appeals court on Friday went along with a request to delay ruling on a legal challenge to carbon emission limits. The Trump administration asked the court to postpone the case shortly after the president signed an executive order asking officials to roll back Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The plan aims to reduce harmful emissions from existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.