Business Highlights

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Wells Fargo to pay $3B to resolve probes into fake accounts

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle criminal and civil investigations into a long-running practice whereby company employees opened millions of unauthorized bank accounts in order to meet unrealistic sales goals. Since the fake-accounts scandal came to light in 2016, Wells has paid out billions in fines to state and federal regulators, reshuffled its board of directors and seen two CEOs and other top-level executives leave the company. The $3 billion payment includes a $500 million civil payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which will distribute those funds to investors who were impacted by Wells' behavior.

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Fed officials downplay virus even as markets see rate cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Wall Street expects the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, should that influence the Fed's decisions? Two Fed officials diverged on that issue in remarks Friday at a monetary policy conference in New York. The disagreement occurred just as the scenario is playing out in real life: Investors increasingly expect the Fed to cut its benchmark short-term rate this year to help cushion whatever economic damage China's viral outbreak ends up causing. Still, other Fed officials have said in recent days that they see no need for rate cuts anytime soon.

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China suspends more penalties on US goods after trade truce

BEIJING (AP) — China has suspended more punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. imports following a truce in its trade war with Washington that threatened global economic growth. The goods affected include industrial components and medical and factory equipment. Beijing imposed penalties after the Trump administration hiked duties on Chinese goods in 2018 in response to complaints China was hurting U.S. companies by pressuring them to hand over technology. President Donald Trump reduced some of those duties, effective last week. That followed the signing of a “Phase 1” agreement in January seen as a possible step toward ending their tariff war.

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Outbreak, economic ills dim luster of Japan's Olympic year

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should be basking in the limelight this year in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Instead, the economy is reeling and criticism is mounting over his government's handling of a new virus that began in China and has spread alarmingly in Japan. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party had been gearing up to potentially change the rules to allow Abe a fourth three-year term. Now, it's on the defensive. Some in Japan are calling for the Olympics to be postponed or moved to another venue. And for once, the economy is proving to be more of a liability than an advantage for Abe.

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Eurozone economy picks up despite virus disruption

LONDON (AP) — A survey shows that business activity in the 19-country eurozone has picked up in February from a deep slump, particularly in Germany's big industrial sector. The improvement comes despite disruption from the new coronavirus. The survey of business managers by financial firm IHS Markit showed that the economy grew in February at its fastest rate in six months as services grew and trouble in manufacturing eased. New business orders remained constrained amid global uncertainties that have weighed on growth in recent months, particularly trade uncertainties. The survey showed that the virus outbreak, which originated and largely affected China, hurt travel, tourism and delayed supplies to businesses in Europe.

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Deere sees some stability on farms in bruising trade fight

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere reported a surprisingly strong first quarter after an extended period in which the tractor maker was bruised by the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. CEO John May says that farmer confidence, though still subdued, has improved on hopes of a relaxation in those trade tensions. The agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer had posted three consecutive quarters of falling profits and slowing sales growth.

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Greyhound to stop allowing immigration checks on buses

SEATTLE (AP) — Greyhound, the nation's largest bus company, says it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks. The company announced the change Friday, one week after The Associated Press reported on a leaked Border Patrol memo confirming that agents can't board private buses without the consent of the bus company. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn't like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them.

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Stocks sink, Treasury prices soar as investors seek safety

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell and bond prices rose sharply on Wall Street Friday amid signs that economic fallout from the viral outbreak that originated in China is hurting U.S. companies. The yield on the 30-year Treasury reached a record low as investors sought the safety of U.S. government bonds. The price of gold climbed 1.7%.

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The S&P 500 index fell 35.48 points, or 1.1%, to 3,337.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 227.57 points, or 0.8%, to 28,992.41. The Nasdaq lost 174.37 points, or 1.8%, to 9,576.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up 17.46 points, or 1%, to 1,678.61.