Business Briefs – August 16, 2017

Judge OKs Takata Request to Halt Some Lawsuits Over Air Bags

DOVER, Del. (AP) – A Delaware bankruptcy judge is temporarily halting the prosecution of lawsuits filed by Hawaii, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata over defective air bag inflators. The judge ordered a 90-day stay Wednesday. Takata wants the halt while it works on reorganization. The judge also OK’d Takata’s request to temporarily halt individual suits against manufacturers who installed bags but won’t extend it to scores of suits consolidated in a federal case.

Fed Officials Split in July Over Inflation Worries

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve policymakers were worried last month about inflation, but for two opposing reasons.

One group of Federal Reserve policymakers felt inflation was falling too low and argued for caution in raising interest rates. Others expressed concerns that delaying further rate hikes could push inflation higher into dangerous territory.

The policy debate was revealed in minutes released Wednesday of the Fed’s July 25-26 meeting. Officials eventually made a unanimous decision to keep its key policy rate unchanged.

The minutes also showed that several officials pushed for a July announcement that the Fed was ready to start reducing its massive bond holdings, a move that would likely mean slightly higher rates on mortgages and some other loans. Policymakers decided in the end to signal that it would come “relatively soon.”

U.S. Demands Big NAFTA Changes, Setting Stage for Tough Talks

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States won’t settle for cosmetic changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the top U.S. trade negotiator said Wednesday, as the U.S., Canada and Mexico began to renegotiate the 23-year-old trade pact and fulfill one of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges. In a statement at the opening of five days of talks, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said that Trump “is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and an updating of a few chapters.

Florida Bans Future Investments In Maduro’s Venezuela

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott easily won approval Wednesday for a proposal to bar the state’s $150 billion pension plan from making future investments that directly support the regime of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Scott and the two other trustees who oversee the plan quickly approved the ban, which could be more symbolic than substantive, since the Florida Retirement System doesn’t currently invest in any companies or securities controlled or owned by Venezuelan government interests.

Scott, a likely Republican challenger of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year, called the ban a “huge step in the right direction.”

But Nelson, another Maduro critic, accused Scott of backtracking from his original vows by banning only direct investments in Venezuela, but not sanctioning companies that do business there.