Business Highlights

Markets Associated Press

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Fed leaves rates alone and gives no hint of when it may hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has left its key interest rate unchanged at a time of solid economic gains but also heightened uncertainty surrounding the new Trump administration. At the same time, the Fed pointed to improved sentiment among consumers and businesses. And it said it had become more confident that inflation will reach its 2 percent target. But the Fed offered no hints about when it will resume raising rates.

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How Trump's immigration order could hurt the US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's executive order suspending immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries could slow the U.S. economy by hampering two of the nation's top export industries: Tourism and higher education.

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Apple surges on iPhone sales; stock indexes wobble

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors didn't react much to a strong hiring survey or the Federal Reserve's decision to leave interest rates unchanged Wednesday, and U.S. stock indexes finished pretty much where they started. Apple soared after it said iPhone sales improved in its latest quarter.

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Facebook beats Street 4Q forecasts

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook blew past Wall Street's expectations yet again with its quarterly earnings report, despite some concerns that its "ad load," or the number of advertisements it can show users without clogging up their feed, has reached its limit.

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Senate panel, sans Democrats, approves Mnuchin for Treasury

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel approved President Donald Trump's choice of wealthy financier Steven Mnuchin to serve as Treasury secretary. The approval by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday came over objections from Democrats who boycotted the committee vote.

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Retailers, trade groups increase fight against tax proposal

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 100 retailers including Wal-Mart and Target as well as key trade associations are launching a new coalition to fight a Republican proposal on how imports get taxed, a measure they believe will deal a big blow to businesses. They're increasing their fight even while Congress and the president try to sort out exactly what adjustments to put forth.

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Insurers shrink from exchanges as lawmakers mull changes

The Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges have become too risky for major health insurers, and that's creating further doubt about coverage options consumers might have next year. Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said Wednesday his company is waiting to see whether the government makes some short-term fixes to the shaky exchanges before it decides how much it will participate in 2018.

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US auto sales start 2017 on down note; improvement expected

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales fell 2 percent in January as buyers recovered from holiday spending sprees, but the slowdown won't last long. Strong consumer confidence, low gas prices and good deals should boost buying going forward. The X-factor: President Donald Trump.

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Self-driving car prototypes need less human help, data show

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Self-driving car prototypes appear to be getting better at negotiating California streets and highways without a human backup needing to intervene. California regulators released documents Wednesday that report data from 11 companies testing the technology on public roads. The reports catalog the number of times in 2016 that humans took control from the cars' software. Google's self-driving car project that has been rebranded Waymo improved notably.

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GOP pushes 2 top Cabinet picks through to full Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans jammed two of President Donald Trump's top Cabinet picks through the Senate Finance Committee with no Democrats in the room Wednesday. The suspended a rule that would have otherwise barred them from taking the vote. The tactic seemed a warning shot that they might deploy brute political muscle in the upcoming fight over the Supreme Court vacancy.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.85 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,890.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 inched up 0.68 points to 2,279.55. The Nasdaq composite gained 27.86 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,642.65.

U.S. crude added $1.07, or 2 percent, to close at $53.88 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, gained $1.22, or 2.2 percent, to $56.80 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.