Business Briefs – February 14, 2018

U.S. Inflation Pressures Raising Expectations for Rate Hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) – Inflation pressures appear to be building in the U.S. economy, a prospect that is heightening anxiety about potentially higher borrowing rates that could slow economic growth. The latest source of concern was a report that showed a key measure of inflation rising in January by the sharpest rate in a year. Some economists cautioned, though, that some of those price increases are tied to temporary factors and might not signify sustained inflation.

Critics Wary as Google’s Chrome Begins an Ad Crackdown

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Starting Thursday, Google will start using its Chrome browser to reshape the web in its image. It will flag sites that use annoying ad formats, such as auto-playing video ads with sound, and will shut off all ads to the offending sites if they don’t reform themselves. While the move could clean up an increasingly cluttered web, critics say it leaves untouched similar ad formats that Google profits from and is a sign of its overwhelming power over the internet.

Buffett’s Firm Invests in Drugmaker Teva, Trims Phillips 66

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Billionaire Warren Buffett’s company revealed a new investment in Teva Pharmaceuticals and trimmed its holdings in oil refiner Phillips 66 by selling 35 million shares back to the company for $3.3 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. disclosed those changes and several other tweaks to its stock holdings Wednesday in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Berkshire said it held 18.9 million shares of Teva at the end of the year.

Berkshire’s filings don’t reveal whether Buffett or one of the conglomerate’s two other investment managers made the move, but the relatively small Teva stake worth about $350 million suggests it may not have been Buffett’s decision.

Besides investments, Berkshire owns more than 90 subsidiaries in a variety of industries, including insurance, utilities, railroads, and manufacturing.

Uber’s Net Loss Widens To $4.5 Billion for Tumultuous 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Ride-hailing giant Uber’s full-year net loss widened to $4.5 billion in 2017 as the company endured a tumultuous year that included multiple scandals and the replacement of its CEO. The results also showed that Uber cut its fourth-quarter net loss by 25 percent from the third quarter as its new CEO moves to make the company profitable before a planned public stock sale sometime next year.

Fannie Mae Loses $6.5 Billion In 4Q on Tax Change

WASHINGTON (AP) – Sweeping changes to U.S. tax law led to a $6.5 billion loss at Fannie Mae last quarter, putting the government-controlled mortgage company in the position of seeking cash assistance from taxpayers for the first time since it emerged from the housing crisis six years ago. Fannie Mae says its net worth sank to a negative $3.7 billion after it had to “remeasure” its deferred tax assets to the tune of $9.9 billion as required by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Phoenix Legal Defeat Prompts FAA to Address Noise Concerns

PHOENIX (AP) – Nearly 100 people strolled through the high school cafeteria throughout the evening, studying colored graphs of flight takeoffs and jotting down comments for officials.

More than three years after they awoke to find window-rattling flights rerouted in an airborne highway above their homes, residents of Phoenix’s downtown historic districts said they finally felt the Federal Aviation Administration was listening.

A court victory by Phoenix and neighborhood groups over the FAA last year has prompted the agency to be more responsive to residents as it continues to beat back noise complaints around the United States over the air traffic modernization plan known as “NextGen.”