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Apple forecasts its first iPhone sales drop, cautious markets await word from the Fed, and more

Tim Cook introduces a new iPhone in 2012.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

1. Apple forecasts its first quarterly decline in iPhone sales

Apple said Tuesday that iPhone sales grew at their slowest pace since the company launched the smartphones in 2007. Apple sold 74.8 million iPhones in the quarter that ended in late December, just inching up from the 74.5 million it sold in the same quarter a year before. The company also predicted its first quarterly decline in iPhone sales, and its first revenue drop in 13 years in the quarter ending in March. A strong dollar and slowing growth in the critical Chinese market have helped end iPhone's exponential growth.

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2. Markets cautious ahead of Federal Reserve statement

Markets overseas struggled early Wednesday, and investors in the U.S. were cautious as they waited for Federal Reserve policymakers to end a two-day meeting and announce their next move on interest rates. The Fed last month raised interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, but with global markets in turmoil it is not expected to make another change on Wednesday. The roller-coaster ride continued Tuesday for U.S. stocks, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up nearly 300 points after oil prices bounced back above $30 a barrel.

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3. Shell shareholders approve plan to buy BG

Royal Dutch Shell's shareholders on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved acquiring British oil and gas producer BG Group in the energy giant's biggest acquisition. The move came in the middle of the oil industry's worst downturn since the global financial crisis, with benchmark oil prices dropping 30 percent since the beginning of the year. The $51 billion deal would make Shell the world's biggest liquefied natural gas trader, but first it must clear a vote by BG investors on Thursday and win final court approval.


4. Home prices get boost from rising wages

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose by 5.8 percent in the 12 months that ended in November, the biggest jump since July 2014, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values released Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 5.7 percent gain. Nationally, prices rose by 5.3 percent compared to a year earlier. Prices are getting a boost from low inventories, as well as rising wages that are putting prices within reach for more families.


5. Chase rolling out ATMs that allow withdrawal by smartphone

JPMorgan Chase is upgrading its ATMs this year to let customers withdraw money using their smartphones, bank spokesman Michael Fusco said Tuesday. Chase also is upping withdrawal limits to $3,000. Up to 95 percent of withdrawals from tellers are under that figure. The change is part of an effort to increase transactions at ATMs, which are cheaper than those done with tellers. Fusco said the goal is giving customers another option, "not replacing debit cards."

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