Business Highlights

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

___

Continue Reading Below

Fed announces a start to modestly reducing its bond holdings

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is announcing that it will begin shrinking the enormous portfolio of bonds it amassed after the 2008 financial crisis to try to sustain a frail economy. The move reflects a strengthened economy and could mean higher rates on mortgages and other loans over time.

___

Yellen stays quiet on wanting 2nd term

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is staying mum about whether she wants a second term as the head of the U.S. central bank. Yellen says she intends to serve out her four-year term. That term ends Feb. 3, 2018. Yellen declined to say at a news conference whether she would like to serve a second term.

Continue Reading Below

___

Facebook tightens ad policies after 'Jew-hater' fiasco

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is apologizing for letting advertisers use phrases like "Jew-haters" as a targeting criteria and for not noticing it until it was pointed out. The company is also tightening policies and tools that let businesses target advertisements to its 2 billion users, hoping to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

___

US stocks wobble after Fed announcement, but close higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes overcame an afternoon wobble to close mostly higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it would start reducing its huge bond portfolio next month and was still on track to raise interest rates later this year. The central bank's announcement drove bond yields higher, lifting shares in banks and other financial companies. High-dividend stocks like utilities and household goods makers fell.

___

US home sales off 1.7 pct., hurt by Harvey and low supply

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales fell 1.7 percent in August, pulled down by the effects of Hurricane Harvey and a worsening shortage of available properties. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes sank last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million.

___

Watchdog: Airfares for many travelers rise due to bag fees

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says travelers who check at least one bag are paying more overall to fly than they did before airlines began unbundling fares in 2008. The report also says the proliferation of new fees for services means flyers aren't always able to determine the full cost of their travel and compare prices across airlines before buying tickets. The lawmaker who requested the report says passengers are soon going to have to show up with "a bag full of money" in order to board a plane.

___

Prospects for air traffic control privatization appear slim

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prospects for congressional approval of a plan to remove air traffic control operations from the government and put industry in charge appear slim. President Donald Trump has made the proposal a key part of his agenda to boost the nation's infrastructure through privatization. Trump put the plan in his budget proposal, and then formally embraced the concept at a White House "infrastructure week" event in June.

___

Review: Apple Watch goes solo, but don't dump your phone yet

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The latest Apple Watch is the company's next step toward an untethered world. Now you can make and receive calls and messages while leaving your phone at home. But the watch still requires regular contact with an iPhone for many tasks. It's out Friday, starting at about $400.

___

Apple says its new watch has cellular connectivity problems

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple is confirming that the new Series 3 Apple Watch has problems connecting to a cellular network. The problems arise when the Watch joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks "without connectivity." The company says it is working to fix the problem.

___

GOP senator defends health bill against Kimmel's attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy is defending his health care bill against attacks from late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who claims Cassidy lied to him about the legislation's protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Kimmel's son was born with congenital heart failure in April and Cassidy coined the phrase "Jimmy Kimmel test" to say health legislation must protect families and children facing similar situations. But Kimmel claims Cassidy's bill does not do so; Cassidy says it does.

___

Fox bid for Sky referred to UK's competition regulator

LONDON (AP) — The British government has referred Twenty-First Century Fox's bid for satellite broadcaster Sky to competition authorities on public interest grounds, a move that sets up a six-month investigation into Rupert Murdoch's takeover plans. The Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday it "will now examine how the deal would impact media plurality and broadcasting standards in the U.K."

___

The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 1.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,508.24. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 41.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,412.59. The modest gains nudged both indexes to record highs, extending a run of milestones that stretches back to last week. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.28 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,456.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 5.02 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,445.42.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 93 cents, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $50.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.15, or 2.1 percent, to $56.29 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.66 a gallon. Heating oil added 3 cents to $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas declined 3 cents to $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.