Officials: 3 rate cuts in 2019 were enough

Most Federal Reserve officials believed last month that the three rate cuts they have made this year would be enough unless the economy weakened significantly.

The minutes of the October Fed meeting, released Wednesday, revealed that “most participants” thought that this year’s rate cuts would be sufficient to support moderate growth, a continued strong job market and inflation rising toward the Fed’s 2 percent target level.

A “couple” of Fed officials suggested that this view should be reinforced by additional comments after the meeting that further cuts were “unlikely in the near term” unless the economy slowed significantly.

The consensus among economists is that the Fed will now pause after having cut rates three times in 2019, with its benchmark rate now in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent. The central bank’s key rate influences many consumer and business loans.

The minutes of the October meeting showed that “some participants” had opposed the rate cut that the Fed announced then. They argued that the central bank’s interest rate stance was already appropriate and that it should take time before deciding whether to reduce rates further.

But a majority of Fed voters considered it to be appropriate to cut rates for a third time given the risks associated with slower global growth and trade uncertainty.

The Fed’s decision was approved on an 8-to-2 vote, with Fed Presidents Esther George of Kansas City and Eric Rosengren of Boston dissenting.

— Associated Press


Disney links password sales to other hacks

Disney said Disney Plus account passwords being sold in underground hacking forums are coming from previous breaches at other companies, predating last week’s launch of its streaming service.

The company reiterated Wednesday that it found no evidence of a security breach and that Disney Plus account problems are limited to “a very small percentage of users.”

Helped by promotions, including a free year for some Verizon customers, Disney Plus attracted 10 million subscribers on its first day.

The news site ZDNet found stolen account usernames and passwords selling for $3 on underground hacking forums.

Troy Hunt, an Australian security researcher whose “Have I Been Pwned?” website alerts people when their identity information is stolen, said Disney should implement better security measures.

“The Disney situation appears to be yet another credential stuffing attack where hackers exploit a combination of customers reusing passwords and the service provider not providing sufficient defenses to stop it,” Hunt said in an email.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Daimler will begin selling its electric Mercedes-Benz EQC in the United States early next year at a starting price of $67,900, the German carmaker said on Wednesday. The Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, which can also charge its batteries on the move, can recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 40 minutes, Mercedes-Benz USA said. Daimler in September reiterated its plan to have up to 10 electrified car variants by 2022.

Target appears increasingly immune to the malaise and aimlessness that has afflicted many of its peers. The big-box retailer reported Wednesday that comparable sales increased a robust 4.5 percent from a year earlier in the latest quarter, blowing past analysts’ expectations. The growth reflected a 3.1 percent increase in traffic from the same period last year, showing that expensive investments in store renovations are luring more shoppers. Target raised its full-year earnings guidance, a sign it expects the momentum to continue into the holiday season.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday received an early U.S. approval for its gene silencing drug to treat patients with a rare genetic disorder that can cause severe pain.

The drug, Givlaari, uses a mechanism known as RNA interference to target and “silence” specific genetic material, blocking the production of the protein that causes acute hepatic porphyria.

The buildup of the protein can cause acute seizures that occur suddenly and can produce permanent neurological damage and death, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Norwegian Air Shuttle named Jacob Schram as its new chief executive, hiring a retail veteran to lead the low-cost airline as it emerges from a debt crisis. Schram, 57, has worked for decades as an executive at fast-food, convenience-store and gas-station chains. He will take over on Jan. 1, Norwegian Air said Wednesday. Geir Karlsen, who focused on stabilizing the company’s finances as interim CEO since July, will remain as chief financial officer and deputy CEO.

— From news services

Coming today

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rate.

10 a.m.: National Association of Realtors releases existing-home sales for October.

Earnings: Macy’s.