Business Highlights: Rate hike talk, stocks' bumpy week


Fed´s Barkin: `Slow progress´ on inflation, sees more hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) – A top Federal Reserve official is downplaying recent signs that the economy is strengthening, but also said he is prepared to keep raising interest rates in smaller increments as often as needed to quell inflation. Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin said Friday that recent reports showing an unusually robust job gain and a spike in retail sales last month reflected in part the impact of warm weather and the government´s seasonal adjustment process, rather than an acceleration of growth that could push inflation higher.


Wall Street closes another bumpy week with a mixed finish

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street closed another bumpy week with a mixed performance.The S&P fell 0.3% Friday after paring a bigger loss from the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose modestly, while the Nasdaq fell 0.6%. Stocks have hit turbulence in February after shooting higher in January on hopes that cooling inflation could get the Federal Reserve to take it easier on interest rates and that the economy could avoid a severe recession. Recent economic reports have raised worries that inflation is not cooling as quickly and as smoothly as hoped.


Facebook ran ads in Moldova for oligarch sanctioned by US

WASHINGTON (AP) – Facebook allowed a Moldovan oligarch with ties to the Kremlin to run ads on its platform urging protests against that country´s government – even though he and his political party are subject to U.S.

sanctions. The ads were removed, but not before they were seen millions of times in Moldova. They were bought by Ilan Shor, a pro-Russian politician who fled his country after he was implicated in a $1 billion theft from Moldovan banks. The U.S. sanctioned Shor last year for his role in Russian efforts to destabilize Moldova.

Meta, which owns Facebook, said it follows all U.S. sanctions laws and removed the ads as soon as it identified them.


TikTok plans 2 more European data centers amid privacy fears

LONDON (AP) – TikTok is planning two more European data centers, as the popular Chinese-owned video sharing app seeks to allay growing concerns about data privacy for its users in the West.

The company said in a blog post Friday that it´s finalizing a plan for a second data center in Ireland, following its first announced there last year. TikTok also reported that it had 125 million monthly active users in the European Union, putting it over the threshold for extra scrutiny under the bloc´s new digital rules set to take effect later this year.

Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook and Instagram will also face the stricter EU scrutiny, according to monthly user numbers they released in time for a Friday deadline.


Former Theranos exec seeks to avoid lengthy prison sentence

SAN JOSE, Calif.

(AP) – Former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani has returned to federal court in a last-ditch attempt to stay out of prison while he´s appealing a jury´s verdict convicting him of orchestrating a blood-testing hoax with his former boss and lover, Elizabeth Holmes.

A judge on Friday oversaw arguments about Balwani´s attempt to delay the start of his nearly 13-year prison sentence. The judge also heard a vigorous debate about how much money Balwani should pay investors and patients duped by the Theranos scam. The judge didn´t rule Friday, but a decision on Balwani´s bid to remain free is expected before March 15 when he is scheduled to report to prison.


Tank plant in small Ohio city plays big role in Ukraine war

LIMA, Ohio (AP) – Thousands of miles from the front lines, a sprawling manufacturing plant in the small midwestern city of Lima, Ohio, is playing a critical role in the effort to arm Ukraine as it fends off the Russian invasion. The plant is owned by the Army and operated by General Dynamics.Army officials say it is expected to refurbish Abrams tanks that the U.S. can send to Ukraine, and is already preparing to build an updated version of the vehicle for Poland. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth toured the facility with other Army leaders. She says it´s highly likely the plant will provide the tanks for Ukraine.


EPA moves to restore rule on mercury from power plants


Environmental Protection Agency is reaffirming the basis for a rule that requires “significant reductions” in mercury and other harmful pollutants from power plants. The EPA´s announcement Friday reverses a move late in former President Donald Trump´s administration to roll back emissions standards.

The EPA said it found it “appropriate and necessary” to regulate emissions of toxic air pollution under the Clean Air Act. Coal-fired power plants are the largest single manmade source of mercury pollutants, which enter the food chain through fish and other items that people consume.

The EPA´s finding puts back into place air quality protections enacted when President Barack Obama was in office.


Thousands of flights canceled as German airport staff strike

BERLIN (AP) – Thousands of flights to and from German airports were canceled Friday as workers walked out to press their demands for inflation-busting pay increases.

The strikes at seven German airports, including Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg, affected almost 300,000 passengers and forced airlines to cancel more than 2,300 flights. Christine Behle of the Verdi labor union told public broadcaster RBB-Inforadio that failure to reach a meaningful deal with employers on pay could result in a “summer of chaos” at German airports.

The union is seeking a 10.5% increase for its members, or at least 500 euros, to make up for high inflation seen in Germany and elsewhere last year due to the knock-on effects Russia´s attack on Ukraine has had on global food and energy prices.


Off camera, Fox hosts doubted 2020 election fraud claims


(AP) – To millions of viewers, Fox News hosts gave allies of former President Donald Trump a platform to champion false claims that he lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud. To one another, they expressed doubts about the claims and mocked the people making them.

Private exchanges between Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and f Laura Ingraham, and other network bigwigs – including Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch – show a wide chasm between what the network promoted in primetime and the doubts that its stars held behind the camera.

That´s according to new court filings in a defamation lawsuit being waged by a company whose voting systems were regularly maligned on air.


The S&P 500 fell 11.32 points, or 0.3%, to 4,079.09.The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 129.84 points, or 0.4%, to 33,826.69. The Nasdaq composite lost 68.56 points, or 0.6%, to 11,787.27. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 4.14 points, or 0.2%, to 1,946.36.