Review Category : Business

Wall Street Posts Gains As Fed Board Puts Off Another Interest Rate Hike

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As the Federal Reserve announced improving economic conditions, but no interest rate hike this month, Wall Street responded with small gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day up 26.85, closing at 19,890.94.

The Nasdaq gained 27.86 to finish the day at 5,642.65, while the S&P 500 closed the trading session at 2,279.55, 0.68 higher than it opened.

After the markets closed, Facebook reported higher than expected earnings. The social media company also announced $8.81 billion in revenue, compared to an expected figure of $8.5 billion. Facebook also reported 1.86 billion daily active users and 1.23 daily active users — both higher numbers than anticipated.

The Federal Reserve today said that while economic conditions are improving, they’re not stable enough for an interest rate hike this month. Rates will remain unchanged for now, but the central bank says another increase is coming.

Payroll processor ADP put out its monthly hiring report, showing good news for job hunters. Government figures on hiring will come out on Friday.

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Report: Las Vegas Is Best US Destination to Get Married

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The number crunchers at WalletHub have done the due diligence, and ranked the Best and Worst Places to Get Married in the U.S. They analyzed 150 cities for 20 main indicators, from “average wedding cost” to “venues and event spaces per capita” to “hotel availability.”

Las Vegas, Nevada came out on top, followed closely by Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

In last place? Newark, New Jersey.

Incidentally, the place with the “Lowest Average Wedding Cost?” El Paso, Texas. Highest? Honolulu, Hawaii.

WalletHub’s Best Places to Get Married:

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Orlando, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Miami, FL

Lowest Average Wedding Cost:

  • El Paso, Texas
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Springfield, MO
  • Memphis, TN

Highest Average Wedding Cost:

  • Honolulu, HI
  • New York, NY
  • NewarK, NJ
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Yonkers, NY

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Volkswagen Reaches Settlement with FTC over Emissions Cheating

ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Volkswagen agreed Wednesday to pay more than a billion dollars to settle claims over emissions cheating.

The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission compensates 78,000 owners of 3.0-liter TDI diesel vehicles rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

If approved, affected vehicles would be recalled and fixed. Volkswagen would buy back older cars or give owners trade-in credits or lease termination.

“With the Court-approved 2.0L TDI program well under way and now this proposed 3.0L TDI program, all of our customers with affected vehicles in the United States will have a resolution available to them,” Hinrich Woebcken, the president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., said in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to work to earn back the trust of all our stakeholders and thank our customers and dealers for their continued patience as this process moves forward.”

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US Stocks Close Lower After Wall Street’s Worst Day of 2017

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday for a second day ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting and following fallout from President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.

The Dow dropped 107.04 (-0.54 percent) to finish at 19,864.09.

The Nasdaq gained 1.07 (+0.02 percent) to close at 5,614.79, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,278.87, down 2.03 (-0.09 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were at nearly $53 a barrel, up less than 1 percent.

Federal Reserve:
The Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and will reveal Wednesday whether or not the U.S. central bank will raise rates after an interest rate hike in December (the second since the recession). Experts believe it’s likely the Fed will hold off on rates this month.

President Trump: Despite a post-election rally, investors became unsettled this week as controversy continued over the president’s executive order on immigration, leading to a sell-off and causing business leaders to speak out against it. Wall Street’s “fear index,” the VIX, also rose for a second day.

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From Moon Walk to Catwalk: Buzz Aldrin Models at New York Fashion Week

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Buzz Aldrin strutted his stuff on the catwalk as he modeled new designs during New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

The shiny silver bomber jacket Aldrin donned for designer Nick Graham’s show appeared akin to a futuristic spacesuit. The show’s theme was “Life on Mars: Fall-Winter 2035,” according to Women’s Wear Daily, and featured Graham’s take on fashion in outer space.

Aldrin appeared comfortable in his chic duds. On Twitter, the 87-year-old astronaut, who closed the show, wrote that walking the runway was “as easy as walking on the moon.”

Walking the runway for @itsnickgraham #Mars collection WAS as easy as walking on the moon. #NYFWM

— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) January 31, 2017

In his 2013 book, “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration,” Aldrin wrote that he envisions humans living on Mars by 2035.

“Nick’s collection is very Mars-friendly and every astronaut should look their best when they land there,” he told WWD earlier this month.

Everyone’s favorite “Science Guy,” Bill Nye, made an appearance as well, serving as a show narrator. Nye wore a shiny charcoal tuxedo jacket adorned with an astronomy-inspired print. The outfit was not without personal touch; Nye donned his signature bow tie as well.

On Twitter, Nye wrote that he was “trying” his best at his new gig.

I’m trying my best.

— Bill Nye (@BillNye) January 31, 2017

In 1969, Aldrin became the second man to ever walk the moon when he landed there on Apollo 11.

Aldrin’s adventure-seeking ways have stayed with him long since his astronaut career ended, and he often documents his travels on social media.

Contemplating and plotting the future as I head to NY.

— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) January 30, 2017

In December, Aldrin was hospitalized after he was medically evacuated from the South Pole.

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OK, Google: What Wine Goes with Fish?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Google Assistant, that digital know-it-all that can be accessed on certain phones and other devices like the Google Home speaker by saying “OK, Google…,” is now a sommelier.

If you’re clueless as to what wine to serve with steak or fish, Google Assistant can make you look like an expert — without the need to shell out for an extra tip.

Incidentally, the Assistant is also being trained to be a virtual vet of sorts: The industry website Android Headlines adds that Google Assistant has also been equipped to answer the question: “Can my dog eat…?”

As you may already know, certain foods that dogs love, like chocolate, can be deadly to them.

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Revealed: The $18,000 Coffee Maker

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Would you pay $18,000 to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee? Then the Royal Coffee Maker has your fix.

The $18,000 precision machine was handcrafted by sculptor Jean-Luc Rieutort.

The device is modeled after the siphon coffee makers used by 19th-century kings, according to its website, which notes, it, “effortlessly transforms some of the finest coffee strains in the world with an unmistakable purity and clarity of taste.”

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Consumer Groups Slam New Trump Executive Order on Regulation

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Consumer groups are slamming President Donald Trump’s new executive order on regulations, calling the move “arbitrary and irrational” and a threat to consumer safety.

The executive order, signed Monday, requires that for every new federal regulation put in place, two other regulations must be eliminated. It also requires the cost of all new regulations this year be zero. Trump hailed the move as a win for small businesses, which he said would be able to expand more quickly as a result.

But consumer groups are denouncing the order as a nonsensical simplification of regulations that help protect our food supply, medicines, environment and more.

Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel of the Consumer Federation of America, said the move “will have a devastating impact on necessary consumer protection.”

“Creating an arbitrary one-in-two-out rule utterly disregards the substance and purpose for existing regulatory protections and the benefits they can provide to consumers,” Weintraub said in a statement. “Our nation deserves a rigorous and deliberative rulemaking process, not one that is based on arbitrary gimmicks that refuse to acknowledge why these rules exist at all.”

The CFA is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer groups.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, also voiced concern about the impact of the executive order on regulations that protect consumers.

“We believe it is the role of government to set reasonable rules for the marketplace that protect consumers from dangers like predatory lending, dirty air and water, foodborne diseases and unsafe medications,” said Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports, in a statement. “This order is telling federal agencies to trade off one rule that improves health or safety for two other rules, and that does not make sense.”

MaCleery added that by requiring new regulations to not impose any financial costs on businesses, “agencies will have to put corporate costs before Americans’ well-being.”

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Trump Meets with Pharma Execs, Says Drug Costs Must Come Down

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump briefly spoke in his meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders on Tuesday, telling executives that drug prices need to come down and pledging to streamline the approval of new drugs.

“We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons — for Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down,” the president said. “We are also going to be streamlining the process.”
The president said that pricing has been “astronomical,” and the key to lower drug prices is competition in the marketplace.

“Pricing has been astronomical but we need to do better. New drugs have led to longer, healthier lives but we have to do better, accelerating cures … we will get the approval process much faster,” he said.

“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing a product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars big time, we have to, into the program,” Trump added.

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Girl Scout Sells More Than 15K Cookie Boxes After Writing Brutally Honest Cookie Review

Courtesy of The McCourt Family(NEW YORK) — Charlotte McCourt, 11, has sold more than 15,300 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and counting thanks to a frank letter she wrote rating each cookie and describing their respective flaws.

“The Toffee-tastic is a bleak, flavorless, gluten free wasteland,” Charlotte, a sixth-grader from New Jersey, wrote in the letter addressed to a family friend. “I’m telling you, it’s as flavorless as dirt.”

Charlotte penned the letter to a family friend in Colorado after she became concerned that only two of the 92 boxes of Girl Scout cookies she had sold so far were designated to be donated to U.S. military troops. In hopes of boosting that number to help U.S. troops, Charlotte used her dad’s laptop to send the letter to his friend.

“Sean said to her, ‘I have a wealthy friend in Colorado and I texted him and he said he’d donate to the troops but why don’t you write him a letter,'” Charlotte’s mom, Beth McCourt, told ABC News of her husband, Sean McCourt. “Sean gave her his laptop and she took it in her bedroom and wrote and emailed the letter to him.”

Charlotte said she didn’t think ahead of what she was going to write.

“I played it by ear and I just kept typing until I thought the letter was good,” she said. “At sales usually I’ll say, ‘This one is my favorite, this one I don’t like as much,’ but I’ve never described them like this before.”

Charlotte rated each of the Girl Scout’s famous cookies on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. The perennial favorite Thin Mint earned a “9” for its “inspired” combination of chocolate and mint.

The Do-si-dos peanut butter sandwich cookie earned a “5” for “its unoriginality and its blandness,” while the Savannah Smiles earned a “7” for its “divine taste.”

“If you have a wild sense of adventure, try the S’mores,” Charlotte wrote of this year’s two new s’mores-inspired cookies. “Full disclosure, I have not tried the S’mores so I cannot rate it in good conscience.”

Charlotte’s letter gained a global audience when Mike Rowe read it aloud in a video posted to his Facebook page. Charlotte’s dad, Sean McCourt, is a producer and writer on Rowe’s podcast, “The Way I Heard It.”

Rowe, the former star of “Dirty Jobs,” told ABC News he appreciated Charlotte’s honesty.

“In an age of fake news and dubious claims, leave it to a Girl Scout to show us the real value of truth in advertising,” Rowe said in a statement. “The simple truth that not all cookies are created equal. The undeniable fact, that some are ‘divine’ and others taste like ‘dirt.’”

Beth McCourt, answered “1,000 percent” when asked if the letter is representative of her daughter’s personality.

“That is who Charlotte is,” McCourt said, describing her daughter as “pure” and full of “honesty and humor.”

The family friend to whom Charlotte wrote the letter purchased 25 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for U.S. troops, according to the McCourt family.

The number of cookie boxes people have donated to U.S. troops through Charlotte’s cookie ordering website has now jumped to 7,253 and counting, according to Charlotte’s local Girl Scouts council.

“It’s honest, nice and it just makes people happy,” Charlotte said of her letter’s appeal. “I think that that’s good to have in a world of war and hate and poverty.”

Charlotte’s local Girl Scout council also applauded the girl’s “entrepreneurial skills” in this year’s cookie sales, which end in April.

“Our Girl Scout Cookie Program helps Girl Scouts develop important life skills—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—that will set them up for success,” the council said in a statement. “We are thrilled for Charlotte and we are proud that she exercised her entrepreneurial skills and is learning about taking the lead like a Girl Scout.”

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