The daily business briefing: March 21, 2019

Harold Maass
Theresa May at Downing Street
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
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Fed forecasts no interest rate hikes in 2019

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting that it had decided not to raise interest rates, indicating that it did not anticipate any more hikes in 2019. The Fed said three months ago that it was pausing its policy of slowly and steadily raising rates, citing signs of slowing economic growth. The central bank said in its post-meeting statement that it would continue to be "patient" before any more rate hikes. The Fed's benchmark short-term interest rate is currently set from 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. [Reuters]


Theresa May asks EU for a 3-month Brexit delay

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday asked the European Union to postpone the U.K.'s exit from the trading bloc until June 30. It is currently scheduled for March 29, but British lawmakers have rejected both May's proposed deal with the EU and the prospect of leaving without a deal. In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, May said the Brexit process "clearly will not be completed" before the current deadline. In a televised statement, May said it was "high time we made a decision," and warned that lawmakers would do "irreparable damage to public trust" if they failed to end infighting and back her deal. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Bayer shares dive after second Roundup cancer verdict

Bayer shares plunged by 10 percent on Wednesday after a San Francisco jury found that the German pharmaceuticals group's Roundup weed killer caused the cancer of a man who used the product in his yard for years. The decision marked a second loss in court for Bayer after a jury in August ordered its Monsanto unit to pay $289 million, an amount reduced to $78.5 million on appeal, for failing to provide adequate warnings of cancer risk from Roundup and Roundup Pro. Bayer gained control of Roundup after acquiring Monsanto last summer. The jury in the second case now turns to considering whether to hold Monsanto liable for the plaintiff's non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a decision that could expose the company to more financial damages. [Financial Times, Business Insider]


U.S. stocks head to lower open after Fed decision

U.S. stock index futures fell early Thursday as investors continued to process the Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates steady, with no hikes projected for 2019, as economic growth slows. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.3 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged down by 0.2 percent. On Wednesday, a brief rally triggered by the Fed decision quickly faded, with bank stocks leading the market down. Treasury yields took their biggest slide in months, with the 10-year Treasury yield falling as low as 2.53 percent from 2.61 percent late Tuesday and 3.2 percent in late 2018. [CNBC, USA Today]


Boeing shares dip after report of FBI investigation of 737 Max certification

Boeing shares fell by less than 1 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after a report that the FBI had joined a criminal investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration's certification that Boeing's new 737 Max jets were safe to fly. Two of the planes, fuel-efficient updates to the company's popular 737s, have crashed since October, killing a total of 346 people. The report on the FBI investigation came a day after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sent a letter to her department's inspector general requesting an audit of the FAA's approval of the planes. [CNBC]