Fed suggests it's closer to slowing bond purchases
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chairman Ben Bernanke ended weeks of speculation Wednesday by saying the Federal Reserve will likely slow its bond-buying program later this year and end it next year if the economy continues to improve.
The Fed's bond purchases have helped keep long-term interest rates at record lows. A pullback in the Fed's purchases would likely lead to higher rates on mortgages and other consumer and business loans.
Bernanke said the reductions would occur in "measured steps" and that the purchases could end by the middle of next year. By then, he said he thought unemployment would be around 7 percent.
Stocks slide as Fed says bond purchases could slow
NEW YORK (AP) — Financial markets shuddered Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it could start scaling back its huge economic stimulus program later this year and end it by the middle of 2014.
The reaction by investors -- the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to its highest in 15 months -- showed just how much investors have come to depend on the Fed's easy money policies that have helped send the stock market up 141 percent in the past four years.
The selloff was broad. All 10 sectors in the Standard's & Poor's 500 were down.
The Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases have helped the U.S. economy by keeping long-term interest rates low and encouraging borrowing and investing. Now, it looks like the Fed is closer to ending that program as the U.S. economy improves.
Government report: Smooth launch unsure for health law
WASHINGTON (AP) — There's no guarantee that President Barack Obama's health care law will launch smoothly and on time, congressional investigators say in the first in-depth independent look at its progress.
But in a report to be released Wednesday, the congressional Government Accountability Office also sees positive signs as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches for new health insurance markets called exchanges to open in each state — in many cases over the objections of Republican governors.
Additionally, the report discloses that the administration had spent nearly $400 million as of March to set up the infrastructure of a sprawling system involving major federal agencies, every state, hundreds of insurance companies, and millions of citizens, among them many individuals seeking coverage for the first time.
Men's Wearhouse ousts founder, pitchman Zimmer
NEW YORK (AP) — Men's Wearhouse doesn't like the way its founder looks anymore.
The men's clothier said Wednesday that it has fired the face of the company and its executive chairman, George Zimmer, 64, who appeared in many of its TV commercials with the slogan "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."
The company announced the move in a terse statement that gave no reason for the abrupt firing of Zimmer, who built Men's Wearhouse Inc. from one small Texas store using a cigar box as a cash register to one of the North America's largest men's clothing sellers with 1,143 locations.
Car quality dinged by tech glitches, survey finds
DETROIT (AP) — Car buyers increasingly want high-tech features like voice recognition and navigation. But they're not very forgiving of the car company when those systems fail.
The top complaints in J.D. Power's closely-watched survey of new vehicle owners, released Wednesday, involved technologies that drivers are clamoring for. Voice recognition systems either didn't recognize commands or didn't work at all. Bluetooth systems had trouble connecting with drivers' phones.
The result: Just when automakers had reached their highest-ever levels of quality — as they did in J.D. Power's 2012 survey — technology glitches are dragging their scores down.
Export revival underway for small businesses
NEW YORK (AP) — When Lawrence Scheer began selling baby clothes in 2010, he didn't realize it then, but he was on the leading edge of a recovery in small business exports.
Scheer's company, Magnificent Baby, manufactures its products in China and then sells them in about 20 countries around the world.