Business Briefs – December 23, 2018

Treasury Secretary: Trump Denied Suggesting Firing Fed Chair

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has denied ever suggesting firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Mr. Trump has been attacking the Fed — and Powell personally — for the central bank’s interest rate increases. The president blames the independent agency’s hikes for recent stock market turmoil and signs of economic weakness.

Bloomberg News cited four people familiar with the matter in reporting Friday that Mr. Trump discussed firing Powell after this week’s rate increase.

But Mnuchin pushed back Saturday in a pair of tweets.

Mnuchin says he spoke with Trump and Trump said that, while he “totally” disagrees with Fed policy, he “never suggested” firing Powell and doesn’t believe he has the right to do so.

No Fed chairman has ever been removed by a president.

U.S. Economy Grew at 3.4 Percent Rate in Third Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy expanded at a solid 3.4 percent annual rate in the third quarter, slightly slower than previously estimated, as consumer spending and exports were revised lower. The expectation is that the economy will slow further in the current quarter.

Germany Closes Its Last Black Coal Mine

BERLIN (AP) – Germany has closed the last of its black coal mines, ending an industry that fueled the country’s industrial revolution and its post-war economic recovery. Miners on Friday handed Germany’s president a symbolic last lump of coal hauled up from 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) below ground. It was an emotional ceremony at the Prosper-Haniel mine in the western city of Bottrop. Germany is looking to increase its use of renewable energy.

U.S. Consumer Spending Rises Solid 0.4 Percent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans lifted their spending 0.4 percent in November from the previous month, a moderate gain that should sustain steady economic growth. The Commerce Department says personal incomes rose 0.2 percent, down from 0.5 percent in the previous month. Economists closely watch consumer spending because it accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity.

Company Sues to Block Order to Contain 14-Year-Old Oil Leak

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The company that has failed to end a 14-year-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is suing to challenge a Coast Guard official’s order to design and install a new containment system to capture and remove the crude before it forms slicks that often stretch for miles. The federal lawsuit that Taylor Energy Co. filed Thursday in New Orleans asks the court to throw out Coast Guard Capt. Kristi Luttrell’s Oct. 23 administrative order.

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Up 0.8 Pct., Led by Defense Spending

WASHINGTON (AP) – Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting goods rose at a modest pace last month, but the gain was driven entirely by demand for military aircraft. Excluding transportation equipment, orders fell. The figures suggest that U.S. factory output, while mostly solid, may slow in the coming months.