WORLD ECONOMY

ECB considers options to address slowdown

The European Central Bank is weighing a broad package of stimulus measures including an interest-rate cut and new bond purchases to counter worries that economic growth is slowing more than expected amid U.S.-China trade tensions.

The written account of the July 25 policy meeting released Thursday cites discussion that a package “such as the combination of rate cuts and asset purchases” would be “more effective” than any one measure introduced piecemeal.

Many analysts expect the bank to add stimulus at its Sept. 12 meeting. Both the ECB and the Federal Reserve in the United States have shifted their stance toward more stimulus as worries about the global economy have grown in recent weeks.

The ECB said in its July 25 policy statement that it was “determined to act” to raise inflation and was ready to use “all its instruments” if things don’t improve. The euro zone grew only 0.2 percent in the second quarter while the largest member, Germany, shrank and may already be in a recession.

Slowing global trade has affected euro zone manufacturers amid uncertainty about the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks and whether more tariffs will be imposed. Other head winds come from less growth in China and from structural changes in the automobile industry.

Additional reasons for slow growth: The ECB has pointed to lack of progress on pro-business reforms that would eliminate red tape and costs to companies. It has also urged governments that can afford it to spend more on things that support economic growth such as infrastructure. Germany has insisted on running budget surpluses despite low or even negative borrowing costs, and despite urging from the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury to spend more.

— Associated Press

BANK INDUSTRY

Wells Fargo settles Navajo Nation lawsuit

Wells Fargo will pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit over “predatory and unlawful practices” by the bank, the Native American tribe said Thursday.

The Navajo Nation sued Wells Fargo in federal and tribal courts in 2017, alleging the San Francisco-based bank had opened unauthorized accounts for vulnerable tribe members as part of the potentially millions of fake accounts opened by bank employees nationwide.

The settlement “puts other companies on notice that harmful business practices against the Navajo people will not be tolerated,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

Wells Fargo said in a statement that the agreement demonstrates the bank’s “commitment to make things right regarding past sales practices issues.”

The settlement with the Navajo Nation followed a $575 million deal in 2018 with U.S. states over claims that Wells Fargo opened phony customer accounts and improperly referred and charged customers for financial products.

The settlement comes as Wells Fargo continues its attempt to overcome the fallout from its earlier practices. The bank said last year it had “reestablished” itself, but has continued to face harsh criticism from politicians and consumer advocates.

— Reuters

Also in Business

HP, the hardware business of Hewlett-Packard, said on Thursday that chief executive Dion Weisler is stepping down from the role in November. The company said Enrique Lores will succeed Weisler, effective from Nov. 1. Weisler, who has served as CEO since 2015, will step down to attend to a family health matter, the company said in a statement.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration plans to test next month how pilots with around one year of experience flying Boeing 737 jets handle new software on the Max model, four people with knowledge of the matter said. The tests indicate the FAA is making progress in the re-approval process of the Max for commercial flight. Boeing Co's latest 737 narrow body model, the Max, was grounded worldwide in March following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

China snapped up a small volume of U.S. soybeans last week after pledging to halt purchases of American farm products due to the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday. The world's largest soybean importer struck deals from Aug. 9 to 15 to buy 9,589 tonnes for delivery in the current marketing year and 66,000 tonnes for the next year, the data showed.

Coming today

10 a.m.: Commerce Department releases new home sales for July.

— From news services