Business Briefs – July 15, 2018

Federal Reserve Projects Further Gradual Hikes in Key Rate

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve says that it expects low unemployment and rising inflation will keep it on track to raise interest rates at a gradual pace over the next two years. By late 2019, the Fed says its key policy rate should be at a level that will be slightly restrictive for growth.

JPMorgan’s Profits Rise 18 Percent, Helped by Lower Taxes

NEW YORK (AP) – JPMorgan Chase says second-quarter profits rose by 18 percent from a year ago, as the bank continues to benefit from higher interest rates and a lower tax bill following last year’s passage of President Donald Trump’s tax law. Per-share earnings of $2.29 topped analysts’ estimates. CEO Jamie Dimon said bank clients are concerned about the U.S. trade dispute with China but it hasn’t impacted their investment decisions.

Commerce’s Ross Selling Stock In Response to Ethics Concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) – Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he is selling off all his vast stock holdings after news reports raised questions about the timing of some of his stock transactions and he received a sharp reprimand from the chief federal ethics officer. But it’s not clear whether the sales by Ross will be enough to satisfy ethics critics and end the episode. Before joining the Trump administration, Ross made billions investing in distressed companies.

U.S. Agency Urges Automakers To Speed Up Takata Recalls

DETROIT (AP) – The U.S. government’s road safety agency is urging automakers to speed up replacement of potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in a statement that it has met with 19 affected companies, urging them to accelerate the recalls and to post recall plans on their websites.

U.S. Expected to Become World’s Top Oil Producer Next Year

(AP) – The U.S. has nosed ahead of Saudi Arabia and is on pace to surpass Russia to become the world’s biggest oil producer for the first time in more than four decades.

The latest forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that U.S. output will grow next year to 11.8 million barrels a day.

Saudi Arabia and Russia could upend that forecast by boosting their own production. In the face of rising global oil prices, members of the OPEC cartel and a few non-members, including Russia, agreed last month to ease production caps that had contributed to the run-up in prices.

German Authorities Question Opel Over Diesel Vehicles

BERLIN (AP) – German automaker Opel reportedly faces questions over emissions from its diesel vehicles, an issue that’s already tarnished many of its competitors.

Germany’s transport ministry confirmed a report by the weekly Bild am Sonntag late Friday that authorities have asked the company to answer questions about the way the emissions cleaning system in three of its models works.

Bild am Sonntag reported investigators have found evidence that the cars switch off their emissions cleaning system while driving, for no apparent reason.

Opel’s rival Volkswagen was found three years ago to have used a so-called defeat device to ensure its diesel cars reduce emissions in official tests, but not during regular driving.

Erdogan Renews Promise for Strong Turkish Economy by 2023

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opened his Cabinet’s first meeting since taking office in a new term with sweeping powers, renewing a promise to make Turkey one of the world’s top economies.

Turkey this week formally switched to an executive presidential system, which critics say concentrates too many powers in the hands of the president. Erdogan maintains the new system will improve governance and bring security and stability to the country.