ECONOMY
Fed expects third rate hike this year

Federal Reserve officials earlier this month said that a strong economy meant that it would “likely soon be appropriate” to boost their benchmark interest rate for a third time this year.

But minutes of their discussions released Wednesday also revealed deepening concerns that escalating trade wars could hurt the economy.

The minutes underscore expectations that the central bank is likely to increase its policy rate at its next meeting in September. Many economists believe another rate hike will follow in December.

The Fed has raised rates seven times since late 2015 to make sure the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years does not trigger unwanted inflation.

The Fed raised rates in March and June, pushing the federal funds rate to a level of 1.75 percent to 2 percent. The rate remained at a record low near zero for seven years from late 2008 to late 2015 as the central bank tried to combat the worst recession since the 1930s with low rates to encourage more borrowing by consumers and businesses.

The minutes, released after the customary three-week delay, covered the July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.

— Associated Press

BENEFITS
Disney to pay tuition for hourly workers

The Walt Disney Co. is offering to pay full tuition for hourly workers who want to earn a college degree, finish a high school diploma or learn a new skill, the entertainment giant said Wednesday.

As many as 80,000 hourly workers in the United States could be eligible for the program, which pays upfront tuition for employees taking online classes starting this fall.

Disney initially will invest $50 million into the “Disney Aspire” program and up to $25 million a year after that, the company said.

Disney joins other large corporations that have begun paying tuition for workers in a job market with historically low unemployment. In May, Walmart said it will offer workers the chance to get a college degree at three universities with online programs.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Saudi Arabia has called off both the domestic and international stock listing of state oil giant Aramco, billed as the biggest such deal in history, four senior industry sources said on Wednesday. The financial advisers working on the proposed listing have been disbanded, as Saudi Arabia shifts its attention to a proposed acquisition of a "strategic stake" in local petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp, two of the sources said.

The cost of Uber Technologies' sexual harassment scandal is now itemized: 56 current and former employees who filed claims stand to collect an average of $33,929. In addition, those workers and 431 other female and minority engineers covered by a 2017 class-action lawsuit will receive an average of just under $11,000 for alleged pay disparities, according to a final accounting in the settlement of the case that was submitted this week to a federal judge in Oakland, Calif.

Europe's biggest low-cost airline Ryanair apologized on Wednesday after it sent unsigned checks to some passengers who were owed compensation for disrupted travel. Thousands of Ryanair passengers have had their flights canceled across Europe this summer because of air traffic control problems and pilot strikes.

Coming today

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

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

— From news services