AP Business SummaryBrief at 1:14 p.m. EDT | Company

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Fed set to impose another big rate hike to fight inflation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is under pressure to continue raising interest rates aggressively with inflation at its highest level in four decades, a strong job market and consumers still spending. At the end of its last policy meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the Fed is expected to impose a second consecutive three-quarter point hike in its benchmark interest rate. This will be the Fed’s fourth rate hike since March. Since then, as inflation hit new four-decade highs, the central bank has tightened credit even more aggressively. A press conference that Chairman Jerome Powell will hold on Wednesday — and whatever signals, if any, he sends about the Fed’s next steps — will generate strong interest.

The U.S. Economy Sends Mixed Signals: Here’s What It All Means

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is caught in a delicate and painful place. Confusing, too. Growth seems to be stalling, home sales are collapsing and economists are warning of a possible recession to come. But consumers continue to spend, businesses continue to post profits, and the economy continues to create hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. Amid all of this, prices have accelerated to four-decade highs, and the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to put out the inflationary flames with higher interest rates. This makes borrowing more expensive for households and businesses. The Fed hopes to achieve the central bank’s triple axis: slow the economy just enough to curb inflation without causing a recession.

Senate passes bill to boost US computer chip production

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has passed a bill to encourage more semiconductor companies to build chip factories in the United States. The $280 billion measure, which awaits a House vote, includes federal grants and tax breaks for companies that build their chip facilities in the United States. It also directs Congress to dramatically increase spending on high-tech research programs that lawmakers say will help the country stay economically. competitive in the decades to come. The Senate’s passage came by a vote of 64 to 33 on Wednesday. The House vote is expected later this week as lawmakers try to wrap up their business before returning to their home states and districts in August.

Grain from Ukraine is ready to go. But ships are not. Why? Risk

Shipping companies are not rushing to export millions of tonnes of trapped grain out of Ukraine, despite a groundbreaking deal to provide safe corridors across the Black Sea. Indeed, explosive mines are drifting in the waters amid war in Russia, shipowners are assessing the risks and many are still wondering how the deal will pan out. The aim is to get some 20 million tonnes of grain out of three Ukrainian ports and pave the way for Russian food and fertilizers hampered by wider sanctions. But the deal collides with the reality of how difficult and risky it will be to achieve, and time has started to turn.

Russia cuts gas via Nord Stream 1 at 20% capacity

BERLIN (AP) — Russia’s Gazprom has halved the amount of gas flowing through a major gas pipeline from Russia to Europe to 20% of full capacity. It is the latest Nord Stream 1 cut that Russia has blamed on technical issues, but Germany says it was a political move aimed at creating uncertainty and driving up prices in the middle of the war in Ukraine. Data on the Nord Stream website and the head of the German network regulator confirmed the reduction on Wednesday. Gazprom had announced the reduction on Monday, citing equipment repairs. The move raises fears that Russia could cut gas completely in an attempt to gain political leverage over Europe as it tries to bolster its storage levels for the winter.

Alphabet and Microsoft bolster US stocks as market awaits Fed

Shares are solidly higher on Wednesday after strong earnings from Google owner Alphabet, Boeing and Microsoft lifted investor sentiment. Wall Street is also awaiting news from the Federal Reserve, which will likely raise interest rates at the end of its two-day meeting. The S&P 500 index is up 1.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is up 2.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is also up. The Fed is expected to announce on Wednesday an increase of up to three-quarters of a percentage point in its benchmark interest rate, triple the usual size.

DOJ: Buffett’s company discriminated against black homebuyers

NEW YORK (AP) — A Pennsylvania mortgage company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, led by billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, has discriminated against potential buyers of black and Latino homes in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware, the Ministry of Justice. Officials call it the second largest redlining colony in history. Trident Mortgage Co. deliberately avoided issuing mortgages in minority-majority neighborhoods in West Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey and Wilmington, Delaware, the DOJ and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in their settlement with Trident. As part of the deal with the DOJ and CFPB, Trident will have to set aside $20 million to make loans in underserved neighborhoods.

USAID chief calls on China to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt

NEW DELHI (AP) — The head of the U.S. government’s aid agency has called on China to help Sri Lanka and other countries that had borrowed heavily from Beijing with debt restructuring, not just lines credit and emergency loans. Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, contrasted the critical steps taken by India to help Sri Lanka during its worst economic crisis with the two decades in which China offered what it qualifies as opaque loan deals at higher interest rates and has funded infrastructure projects that often served little practical purpose. She says it is essential that China participates in debt relief in a transparent and fair manner with all other creditors. Sri Lanka is bankrupt and has suspended repayment of its $51 billion in foreign loans.

Massachusetts Trader Joe’s store workers vote for union

HADLEY, Mass. (AP) — Workers at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts will vote over the next two days to try to form the supermarket chain’s first union. A union organizer said around 80 workers at the Hadley store were due to vote on Wednesday and Thursday. Workers are organizing as Trader Joe’s United, which, if successful, would be an independent union and unaffiliated with a larger existing union. Trader Joe’s, in a statement, welcomed the vote, but said its compensation and benefits are already among the best in the industry.

Spirit Airlines shareholders face much-delayed merger vote

Spirit Airlines shareholders could choose a preferred buyer for their airline on Wednesday when they must vote on one of the budget carrier’s offers. Shareholders appear to be leaning against the favored bid by Spirit’s board of directors, a Frontier Airlines merger offer currently worth more than $2.6 billion. Four previous votes were postponed due to lack of support. If shareholders reject Frontier’s offer, it would push Spirit into a deal with JetBlue Airways, which has made a cash offer of around $3.7 billion. Either combination is expected to create the nation’s fifth-largest airline, though still a bit smaller than American, United, Delta and Southwest.

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