Stocks rise…Fed holds rates steady…Trump signs trade deal with Canada and Mexico…European lawmakers approve Brexit
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are broadly higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors focus on solid earnings from several big companies. Apple gained ground after reporting solid profit gains, and industrial stocks also rose. Railroads climbed following a good report from Norfolk Southern. General Electric surged after a strong showing from its aviation business pushed profits above expectations. Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands soared following a report that its long-serving CEO might leave.Homebuilders slumped following the weak housing report.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve is keeping its benchmark interest rate unchanged, amid an economy that looks solid but faces potential global threats. The central bank says it will hold short-term rates in a low range of 1.5% to 1.75%, while pledging to “monitor” the world economy, which may be increasingly threatened by China’s viral outbreak. The Fed’s statement was nearly identical to the one it issued after its December meeting, though it described consumer spending as rising at only a “moderate” rather than at a “strong” pace.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has signed into law a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico that he said replaces the “nightmare” of a Clinton-era agreement and will keep jobs, wealth and growth in America. Trump made renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement a priority during his 2016 campaign, although trade experts say the impact of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will be modest. Canada and Mexico already represent the top two export markets for U.S. goods. But the new pact, along with the signing of a “phase one” agreement with China, dials down trade tensions that contributed to slowing economic growth globally. The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico signed the deal in late 2018.
BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved Britain’s departure terms from the European Union – the final major decision in the four-year Brexit saga. The vote was 621 to 49 in favor of the Brexit deal that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiated with the other 27 EU leaders in the fall of last year. After Britain’s departure on Friday, the U.K. will remain within the EU’s economic arrangements until the end of the year, though it won’t have a say in policy as it will not be a member of the EU anymore. Britain becomes the first country to leave the EU. Its departure will reduce the number in the bloc to 27.
LONDON (AP) – The BBC says plans to “modernize” the British broadcaster’s newsroom will lead to the loss of an estimated 450 jobs. The cuts announced today represent a substantial blow to the national public service broadcaster, which has a worldwide reputation for high quality news and entertainment programs. BBC News employs about 6,000 people, including 1,700 outside the U.K. The broadcaster’s director of news and current affairs says the company needs to focus on digital journalism and finding ways to reach new audiences. Some shows will be eliminated.