Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 5:53 PM

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Yellen will testify amid predictions of slower rate hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Things looked so clear back when the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate from record lows, and it signaled the likelihood of four more hikes in 2016.

Panicky financial markets, global weakness and slumps in key U.S. economic sectors have since clouded the outlook.

So are there more hikes ahead? Chair Janet Yellen is expected to address Congress this week and outline the Fed's outlook. It's unclear how much she'll say about the likely timetable for rate increases.

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TV producers may start making you wait for new shows online

NEW YORK (AP) — The Golden Age of Online Television may be in peril.

Streaming TV has gotten popular through online services such as Netflix and Hulu. But some television companies are now balking at giving them timely access to shows and are considering holding back certain shows.

The big worry: Making streaming TV too pleasant might encourage viewers to cut back or drop their cable service. Cable and satellite companies now pay TV networks billions of dollars a year to carry their channels. In turn, TV production companies make a lot from licensing fees paid by the networks.

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Chipotle urges workers to stay home if they're sick

NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle kept all its U.S. locations shuttered early Monday as executives went over new food safety procedures.

The presentation for workers comes after Chipotle has been slammed by a series of food scares. Co-CEO Monty Moran noted two of the four incidents were the result of norovirus, which is typically caused by sick workers. He urged workers to stay home if they feel ill.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. postponed opening its restaurants for four hours to 3 p.m. local time Monday.

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Stocks fall sharply as banks, tech sector take a beating

Wall Street rode another wave of selling Monday that sent U.S. stocks sharply lower, before a late-afternoon pullback stemmed some of the losses.

Investors unloaded materials, financials and other stocks, briefly knocking the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 400 points.

Technology shares, which soared last year, were targeted for especially aggressive selling, bringing the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index down almost 20 percent from its record high last year.

The losses left major market indexes down for the second day in a row, extending what has been a dismal beginning of 2016 for the stock market, its worst start to a year on record.

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Senator scrutinizes pharma links on government pain panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-ranking Senate Democrat is scrutinizing links between pharmaceutical companies and government advisers who recently criticized efforts to reduce painkiller prescribing.

Sen. Ron Wyden says he has a "number of concerns" about how panelists were selected for an advisory panel on pain issues that includes government experts, outside academics and patient advocates. The inquiry follows a recent Associated Press story that found nearly a third of panelists at a December meeting of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee had apparent financial ties to painkiller manufacturers, including the maker of OxyContin.

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After big loss, Credit Suisse CEO asks board: Cut my bonus

GENEVA (AP) — The new CEO of Credit Suisse has proposed that its board make a "significant" cut in his bonus after the Swiss bank posted disappointing earnings last week and announced 4,000 job cuts.

The bank on Monday confirmed comments by Tidjane Thiam in an interview published in German-language media.

He proposed the biggest cut among the bank's management team because he said he could not "demand sacrifices from others and not make any myself."

The bank said it is "not giving numbers at the moment" about the size of the cut in the bonus.

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Apollo Education to go private in $1.1B deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Apollo Education is being taken private in a $1.1 billion deal by a consortium led by private investment firm The Vistria Group.

The announcement comes about a month after the owner of the University of Phoenix and Western International University signaled that it may be looking for a buyer. Apollo Education has had several lackluster quarters as enrollments at its for-profit schools fell amid increased government scrutiny of the industry.

Shareholders of Apollo Education Group Inc. will receive $9.50 per share, a 37 percent premium to the Phoenix-based company's $6.95 Friday closing price.

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Feds find Fiat Chrysler gear shifters can confuse drivers

DETROIT (AP) — Electronic gear shifters on some newer Fiat Chrysler SUVs and cars are so confusing that drivers have exited the vehicles with the engines running and while they are still in gear, causing crashes and serious injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has doubled the number of vehicles involved in an investigation of the problem, but it stopped short of seeking a recall. The agency found more than 100 crashes and over a dozen injuries, mostly in Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The agency upgraded the probe to an engineering analysis, which is a step closer to a recall.

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Quality control chief leaves scandal-hit Volkswagen

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen says its quality control chief is leaving the company.

Frank Tuch is being replaced as the company deals with a scandal over diesel vehicles equipped to cheat on emissions testing. He is being succeeded by Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, head of technical development at the company's commercial vehicles brand.

A Volkswagen statement Monday says Tuch is "leaving the company at his own request."

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Chesapeake says it has no plans to file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) — Chesapeake Energy sought to assure investors Monday that it is not planning to file for bankruptcy protection. The announcement came after a news report that said it hired a law firm spooked investors and sent its stock plummeting.

The natural gas producer said it is working with Kirkland & Ellis to "strengthen its balance sheet" and currently has "no plans" to file for bankruptcy. Chesapeake said the law firm has advised the company for about 6 years. On its website, Kirkland & Ellis says it works with clients to help with litigation, taxes, intellectual property and restructuring matters.

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Gov't creates new student aid enforcement office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking new steps to protect students amid increased scrutiny of for-profit colleges and other schools.

The Education Department said Monday that it was creating a new student aid enforcement unit that will "respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions."

Critics have complained the government didn't move swiftly enough to take action against for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year amid fraud allegations, closing schools and leaving thousands of students with hefty student debt and frustrated efforts at earning degrees.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 177.92 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,027.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 26.61 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,853.44. The Nasdaq composite index slid 79.39 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,283.75.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.20, or 3.9 percent, to close at $29.69 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, dropped $1.18, or 3.5 percent, to close at $32.88 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 3.7 cents, or 3.7 percent, to 95.61 cents a gallon and home heating oil fell 1.3 cents to $1.046 a gallon. Natural gas rose 7.7 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $2.14 per 1,000 cubic feet.