1. With markets in turmoil, the Fed holds interest rates steady
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee announced Wednesday that it was keeping interest rates unchanged, but planned to continue gradually raising them while "closely monitoring" how global economic turmoil impacts the U.S. jobs market and inflation. The central bank raised interest rates last month for the first time in nearly a decade as the economy showed signs of gaining strength. U.S. stocks tumbled Wednesday afternoon following the Fed's cautious statement and gloomy earnings reports from Apple and Boeing.
2. Facebook stock gains after strong earnings report
Facebook shares shot up by nearly 12 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the social media powerhouse reported fourth-quarter earnings that smashed analysts' expectations. Facebook earned 79 cents a share on revenue of $5.84 billion in the fourth quarter as its share of the digital advertising market grew, thanks to a surge in mobile and video views. Wall Street had expected earnings of 68 cents a share, up from 54 cents a year ago. "2015 was a great year for Facebook," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
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3. Wendy's investigates possible data breach
Fast-food chain Wendy's said on Wednesday it was looking into suspicious charges made on customers' credit and debit cards. The possible fraudulent activity occurred elsewhere after the cards were used for legitimate payments at some of the burger chain's 5,700 U.S. locations, Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini said. Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs, who uncovered Target's 2013 data breach, broke the news on his blog. Bertini said Wendy's had hired a hired a cyber security firm to investigate.
4. Japan's economy minister resigns over corruption allegations
Japan's economy minister, Akira Amari, resigned Thursday a week after a magazine published a report saying that he and his aides had accepted $103,000 in cash and other benefits from a construction company. Amari denied wrongdoing, saying he had accepted some funds from the firm but properly reported it. In a news conference, he apologized saddling the government with a "very embarrassing situation." The scandal and his departure could complicate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to boost growth in the world's third largest economy.
5. Samsung stung by slowing smartphone sales
Samsung Electronics warned Thursday that its earnings could suffer this year due to weakening sales of smartphones. The news came a day after rival Apple saw its stock drop by more than 6 percent after it forecast its first quarterly sales drop in 13 years due to soft iPhone demand. Samsung reported earnings for the last quarter of 2015 that fell short of expectations, falling 40 percent as its profit growth from chips slowed and smartphone sales weakened.
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