U.S. stock investors have been enjoying an extended period of low volatility and steady gains, but with the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year and major indexes near records, the market could get a bit choppier in coming weeks. Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday said she expected the U.S. central bank to raise rates in 2015, though the process was expected to be gradual, with the timing of the first hike dependent on the strength of economic data. Some weak reports have pushed back the expected lift-off, but Yellen's words suggest the Fed is still headed to rate increases later this year.
By Jonathan Spicer and Michael Flaherty PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was clearer than ever on Friday that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates this year, as the U.S. economy was set to bounce back from an early-year slump and as headwinds at home and abroad waned. Yellen spoke amid growing concern at the Fed about volatility in financial markets once it begins to raise rates, and a desire to begin coaxing skeptical investors toward accepting the inevitable: that a 6-1/2-year stretch of near-zero interest rates would soon end. In a speech to a business group in Providence, Rhode Island, Yellen said she expected the world's largest economy to strengthen after a slowdown due to "transitory factors" in recent months, and noted that some of the weakness might be due to "statistical noise." The confident tone suggested the Fed wants to set the stage as early as possible for its first rate rise in nearly a decade, with Yellen stressing that monetary policy must get out ahead of an economy whose future looks bright.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Justice Department investigators have identified criminal wrongdoing in General Motors Co's failure to disclose a defective ignition switch, and they are negotiating what is expected to be a record penalty, the New York Times reported on Friday. Citing people briefed on the inquiry, the Times said a settlement could be reached as soon as this summer. The final number is still being negotiated, but it is expected to exceed the $1.2 billion paid last year by Toyota for concealing unintended acceleration problems, according to the newspaper. ...
By Liana B. Baker and Claire Ruckin SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) - French telecommunications group Altice SA is talking to several banks about raising debt for a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc, the second-largest U.S. cable operator, according to people familiar with the matter. The talks are an important step for Altice in putting together a bid for Time Warner Cable, which is also being courted by Charter Communications Inc after Comcast Corp abandoned its $45.2 billion offer for Time Warner Cable last month over U.S. antitrust concerns. Altice is in discussions with banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Nomura Co Ltd, BNP Paribas SA, Societe Generale, Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Canada about a financing package to support a proposed acquisition, the people said.
Rising shelter and medical care costs boosted underlying U.S. inflation pressures in April, a welcome sign for the Federal Reserve as it contemplates raising interest rates this year. The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index, excluding food and energy, increased 0.3 percent last month. It was the largest rise in the so-called core CPI since January 2013 and followed a 0.2 percent gain in March.