Business Briefs – February 25, 2018

Fed Expects Economic Gains to Prompt Gradual Rate Hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve says it expects that the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy will warrant further gradual increases in interest rates this year. It delivered the same steady-as-it-goes message under new leader Jerome Powell as it provided under Janet Yellen. The Fed’s projection on rate hikes came with the release Friday of its semi-annual monetary report to Congress.

U.S. Companies Distance Themselves From NRA as Pressure Mounts

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Association, after the latest school massacre. Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website.

General Mills Gets Pet-Friendly Again by Buying Blue Buffalo

NEW YORK (AP) – The maker of Cheerios also wants to fill dog bowls. General Mills said Friday that it plans to buy high-end pet food maker Blue Buffalo for $8 billion. It’s a return to the pet business for the more than 150-year-old company, which used to sell food for cats, dogs and birds back in the 1950s. The deal is also a way for General Mills to further diversify its business as more people seek less-processed foods, even for their furry friends.

Blue Buffalo jumped $5.88, or 17.2 percent, to $40. General Mills lost $1.97, or 3.6 percent, to $52.98.

Boeing to Have 51 Percent Stake In Venture With Embraer: Paper

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Boeing Co will have a 51 percent stake in a joint company currently being negotiated with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, O Globo newspaper columnist Lauro Jardim reported on Sunday.

Boeing has agreed to a Brazilian government demand that the U.S. company have no more than a 51 percent controlling share, Jardim said, without citing sources.

Embraer said it would not comment on the matter. Boeing did not respond to a request for comment.

Embraer is the world’s third largest planemaker and the leader in the 70-seat to 130-seat regional jet market.

EU Leaders Can’t Agree Yet On Post-Brexit Budget

BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders are unlikely to agree this year on a new multiyear budget that will plug a huge funding gap caused by Britain’s departure from the bloc. That’s what European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday after a summit of EU leaders minus Britain’s prime minister. He says the bloc will spend more on increased defense and stemming illegal migration but there will be fewer lawmakers in the European Parliament.

EU Official Says U.K. Seems Delusional Over Post-Brexit Ties

BRUSSELS (AP) – A top European Union official says Britain’s view on its future ties with the EU after Brexit appears to be ‘based on pure illusion’. European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday that ‘if the media reports are correct, I am afraid that the U.K. position today is based on pure illusion.’ He spoke after an EU leaders’ summit. They have been appealing for Britain to explain its vision of future ties, so Tusk can draft negotiating guidelines on the issue for next month.

Money-Laundering Watchdog: Close North Korean Banks

PARIS (AP) – The watchdog that monitors global and illicit misuse of funds has cited North Korea as a top source of “ongoing and substantial” money laundering and terrorist financing and urged countries to close North Korean banks. The Financial Action Task Force said in its report on Friday after a plenary session that North Korea has failed to address “significant deficiencies” in its system to combat the ills that pose a risk to the international financial system.