Business Highlights

The Associated Press


Puzder withdraws nomination to be Trump's labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andrew Puzder has abruptly cancelled his nomination to be President Donald Trump's labor secretary after Senate Republicans balked at backing him, in part over taxes he belatedly paid on a former housekeeper not authorized to work in the United States. Democrats and their allies rejoiced over the fast food executive's withdrawal, saying his corporate background and opposition to such proposals as a big hike in the minimum wage made him an unfit advocate for American workers at the top of an agency charged with enforcing protections.


Yellen defends Fed independence, banking regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen defended the central bank's independence Wednesday from Republican lawmakers who are pushing for major changes in how the central bank operates and how regulators oversee the nation's banking system. During a hearing that stretched over four hours, GOP lawmakers repeatedly challenged Yellen's handling of the economy and her leadership in implementing the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a measure that President Donald Trump and Republicans have vowed to overhaul.


Bond yields rise, stocks push to records as economy cruises

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks and bond yields rose higher Wednesday, and U.S. indexes set records again, following more encouraging news on the U.S. economy. The Standard & Poor's 500 index hit its longest winning streak in three and a half years. The S&P 500 is up nearly 26 percent over the last 12 months, with more than half of the gain coming since Election Day. Such a performance would rank among the best calendar years the index has had in the last three decades.


Under Armour CEO responds to criticism of Trump praise

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump "an asset to the country." Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore that appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday. He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week "did not accurately reflect my intent." Three celebrities the company sponsors were among those voicing concern about his comments.


Trump tells retail CEOs people will 'love' his tax plan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump met with the heads of the largest U.S. retailers with a built in beef: stop a Republican proposal for a border tax on imported goods. Retailers said the meeting was productive but offered scant details.


Trump administration ushers in changes to Obama health law

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration took steps Wednesday intended to calm jittery insurance companies and make tax compliance with former President Barack Obama's health law less burdensome for some people.

But the changes could lead to policies with higher annual deductibles, according to the administration's own proposal. That seems to undercut President Donald Trump's assurance in a recent Washington Post interview that his plan would mean "lower numbers, much lower deductibles."


Millions to fight food industry sway, from a snack bar CEO

NEW YORK (AP) -- A $25 million pledge to fight the food industry's influence on public health is coming from a surprising source — the CEO of a snack bar maker. Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of Kind, says he's pledging his own money to create a group called "Feed the Truth" dedicated to revealing corporate influence in the nutrition field, with activities like education campaigns and investigative journalism.


US consumer prices post biggest rise in nearly 4 years

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices rose in January at the fastest pace in nearly four years, strengthening the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year.

The Labor Department said Wednesday consumer prices rose 0.6 percent last month, the most since February 2013, and twice what economists were expecting. A 7.8 percent jump in gasoline prices accounted for nearly half the increase.

Stripping out food and energy prices, which tend to fluctuate sharply from month to month, so-called core consumer inflation rose 0.3 percent in January. Fed policymakers monitor core measures of inflation especially closely.


Immigrant workers, families to protest by staying home

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Organizers in cities across the U.S. are telling immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop on Thursday as a way to show the country how important they are to America's economy and way of life. "A Day Without Immigrants" actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Austin, Texas. The protest comes in response to President Donald Trump and his 1-month-old administration.


Yahoo issues another warning in fallout from hacking attacks

LONDON (AP) -- Yahoo is warning users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016, the latest development in the internet company's investigation of a mega-breach that exposed 1 billion users' data several years ago. Yahoo confirmed Wednesday that it was notifying users that their accounts had potentially been compromised but declined to say how many people were affected.


The Dow Jones industrial average rose 107.45 points, or 0.5 percent, to 20,611.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 11.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,349.25. The Nasdaq composite gained 36.87 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,819.44.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 9 cents to settle at $53.11 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 22 cents to $55.75 a barrel in London. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.93 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell a fraction of a penny to $1.63 per gallon and wholesale gasoline was virtually flat at $1.55 per gallon.