U.S. oil imports hit 23-year low last week

The United States imported the least amount of crude oil on a weekly basis in 23 years, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.

Weekly crude imports fell 1.61 million barrels a day to 5.92 million, the lowest level since 1996. Weekly imports from Saudi Arabia fell to 346,000 barrels a day for the week ending Feb. 22, the report said. Domestic crude production skyrocketed to 12.1 million barrels a day.

The fall in imports comes as Venezuelan oil shipments drop because of U.S. sanctions against the government of Nicolás Maduro, and as Saudi Arabia curtails exports to the United States in an effort to reduce an oil glut in America. American crude stockpiles fell 8.65 million barrels last week.

Using a four-week average, U.S. imports of Saudi crude dropped to the lowest level since May 1987.

— Bloomberg News


App fined for fetching children's data

The operator of a video-sharing app popular with teenagers has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle federal allegations it illegally collected personal data from children.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that the penalty against lip-syncing app, now known as TikTok, is the largest obtained in a children’s privacy case.

The FTC said the app violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires youth-oriented websites to get parents’ consent before collecting personal information from children under 13.

TikTok said it’s starting a separate, more restrictive app for younger U.S. users.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons said was collecting names, email addresses and other personal data without parental consent. merged last year into China-based TikTok.

— Associated Press


Ill. investment chief convicted of wire fraud

A Chicago federal jury has convicted an investment manager of defrauding clients and lenders out of more than $10 million over more than a decade.

Shawn Baldwin, 53, was convicted Tuesday of seven counts of wire fraud, federal prosecutors say. He was accused of swindling 15 investors and corporate lenders when he operated investment firms in Chicago.

Prosecutors allege Baldwin told victims their cash would be placed in the stock market and used in other investments but that he instead pocketed the money for personal use. Prosecutors say he sent investors bogus account statements.

Prosecutors say the scheme last from 2006 to 2017. Baldwin is to be sentenced in July.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Best Buy delivered a better-than-expected 3 percent increase in sales at established stores for the fiscal fourth quarter. The nation's largest consumer electronics chain also issued an annual profit forecast that was roughly in line with Wall Street expectations. The retailer posted per-share earnings of $2.72, beating last year's fourth quarter's $2.42. It also topped the $2.56 that analysts were expecting, as well as its own previous guidance. For the year, earnings per share came in at $5.32, surpassing last year's $4.42. The company estimates earnings for the next fiscal year to be in the $5.45 to $5.65 range, which is roughly in line with the $5.49 that Wall Street has been projecting. Best Buy said comparable-stores sales, a key indicator of a company's health, rose 4.8 percent for the year, extending its streak to five years of growth.

E-commerce company Etsy said Wednesday that it will begin buying carbon offsets to manage the environmental impact of sellers and buyers shipping items sold on its website. Etsy, which said it has been calculating its emissions since 2013, said buyers and sellers on its website generated 135,459 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from shipping last year, or about 98 percent of the company’s entire carbon footprint. Etsy would say only that it plans to spend several hundred thousand dollars on the initiative this year.

Walt Disney Co. accepted a demand by Brazil's antitrust regulator that it sell the local operator of the Fox Sports channel to win approval of its takeover of Twenty-First Century Fox, regulator CADE said Wednesday. CADE said in a statement that Disney agreed to allow the acquirer of the channel to use the Fox brand at no cost, and added that the time frame for the divestiture is confidential.

— From news reports

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases fourth-quarter gross domestic product.

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.