Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 28, 2018

Dick's Sporting Goods ends sales of assault-style rifles, Jerome Powell vows to keep the economy from overheating, and more

1

Dick's Sporting Goods ends sales of assault-style rifles

Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the biggest U.S. sports-equipment chains and a major gun retailer, said early Wednesday that it would stop selling assault-style rifles, effective immediately. Dick's also said it would end sales of high-capacity magazines, and refuse all gun sales to customers under 21 years old, even in places where they can legally buy firearms under local laws. The announcement came two weeks after a gunman with an assault-style rifle killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, prompting survivors to launch a campaign for tougher gun laws. Dick's CEO Edward Stack said he supports gun rights protected by the Second Amendment, but, "We love these kids and their rallying cry, 'enough is enough.' It got to us."

2

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell vows to keep economy from overheating

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told members of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the central bank's policy makers would continue raising interest rates to prevent the economy from overheating. The comments, made in Powell's first public appearance as Fed chairman, increased expectations of four interest rate increases in 2018. That dragged down the three major U.S. stock indexes by more than 1 percent, but futures edged higher early Wednesday, shaking off the sell-off. The Fed's December projections suggested just three quarter-point rate hikes this year. "The [Federal Open Market Committee] will continue to strike a balance between avoiding an overheating economy and bringing ... price inflation to 2 percent on a sustained basis," Powell said.

3

Amazon to acquire smart doorbell maker Ring

Amazon has reached a deal to acquire Ring, which makes smart-home devices such as video cameras and doorbells, GeekWire reported Tuesday. The unexpected move marks Amazon's latest push into smart-home technology, where it has a strong foundation with its Echo smart speaker, featuring the embedded Alexa voice assistant, as its hub. The financial terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Reuters estimated it to be worth more than $1 billion. "We look forward to being a part of the Amazon team as we work toward our vision for safer neighborhoods," a Ring spokesperson said in a statement. Ring's Wi-Fi enabled doorbells have cameras that detect visitors and let users see and talk to them on their smartphones or tablets.

4

West Virginia and striking teachers reach deal

West Virginia teachers are expected end their strike and return to their classrooms on Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Tuesday. Justice said he and educators struck a deal on a 5 percent raise, with Wednesday as a "cooling off day" at the end of a work stoppage that started last Thursday. The strike over pay and benefits forced all of the state's 55 counties to close their schools, canceling classes for more than 277,000 students. "The long and the short of it is just this: We need our kids back in school," Justice said. "We need our teachers back in school."

5

Papa John's breaks ties with NFL

Papa John's announced Tuesday that it was severing its ties with the NFL and shifting to narrower relationships with individual professional football teams and players. "While the NFL remains an important channel for us we have determined that there are better ways to reach and activate this audience," the pizza chain's new CEO, Steve Ritchie, said in a conference call. Papa John's and the NFL mutually agreed to go their separate ways. In November, then-CEO John Schnatter said the company's faltering performance was due to NFL leadership's mishandling of players who kneeled during the National Anthem to protest mistreatment of African Americans by some police.

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