Business Briefs – October 22, 2017

At GE, a New Urgency to Return to Industrial Roots

NEW YORK (AP) – General Electric’s new CEO is starting to lay out bold plans to return the conglomerate to its industrial roots by slashing costs and streamlining its operations. John Flannery said Friday that the company will shed business units worth more than $20 billion over the next year or two.

The company’s stock bounced back after the industrial conglomerate slashed its annual forecast and reported a disappointing third quarter. The stock gained 25 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $23.83.

Wells Fargo: 4 Currency Executives No Longer Work at Bank

NEW YORK (AP) – Three high-level foreign exchange executives and a currency trader have left Wells Fargo, the bank that has been through several investigations after a scandal over millions of fake accounts and another over auto insurance practices. Wells Fargo confirmed that the four employees from the investment bank side of the business were no longer with the firm but would not say if they were fired.

U.S. Home Sales Ticked Up In September as Houston Recovers

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home sales rose slightly last month as the Houston housing market quickly recovered from Hurricane Harvey. Still, a shortage of available homes is thwarting many would-be buyers and limiting sales. The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales increased 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million. That’s the first increase after three months of declines.

Hurricanes, Earthquakes Estimated To Cost Insurers $95b

GENEVA (AP) – Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers, estimates that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, two recent earthquakes in Mexico will cost the industry about $95 billion. The Zurich-based company, which as a reinsurer provides backup policies to companies that write primary insurance policies, says the claims process is ongoing and such estimates could evolve.

Trump: Considering Powell and Taylor for Fed’s Top 2 Posts

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is signaling that he is considering dual nominations for the Federal Reserve’s top two jobs. Trump may appoint Jerome Powell, a member of the Fed’s board, potentially as chairman, and John Taylor, a Stanford University economist, as vice chairman, according to an interview with Mr. Trump that Fox Business outlined on its website Friday.

Budget Deficit Hits $666b, an $80b Spike for the Year

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration says the federal budget deficit rose to $666 billion in the just-completed budget year. That $80 billion spike comes as Republicans controlling Washington are moving to draft a rewrite of the tax code that promises to add to the national debt. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin insists Republicans are sensitive to the deficit, while top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer is calling for a bipartisan approach to revamping the tax code without adding to the deficit.