BC-Business News Preview

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Among the stories Wednesday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve issues a policy statement and updates its economic forecasts before Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference. The Fed is expected to drop the word "patient" in describing its stance on raising interest rates to signal it's moving closer to a rate hike, though it's unclear when that might occur. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 680-word setup. UPCOMING: 130 words after Fed statement is released at 2 p.m., 300 words by 2:45 p.m.

MODEL PLANES

NEW YORK — In America, businessmen shake hands. In Japan, they bow. The airline world has its own unique greeting: the exchange of model airplanes. By Scott Mayerowitz. SENT: 900 words, photos, video.

PORTUGAL-FIGHTING FOR A FUTURE

VILA NOVA DE GAIA, Portugal — A massive factory here that used to hire 1,500 people before it was shut down in 2012 amid the financial crisis has reopened — and started hiring. Its story offers some hope to EU leaders as they meet for a summit to find ways to create much-needed jobs. By Barry Hatton. SENT: 930 words, photos.

EGYPT-WIDENING THE ECONOMY

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Hisham Khalil heads a medium-sized construction company, the sort that past Egyptian governments generally ignored in their grand economic reform projects in favor of close friends and mega-businesses. So when Egypt launched its latest roadmap to an economic future at an international conference, Khalil accepted an invitation to attend, looking to see if it will be different this time. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 1,260 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are slightly lower in late morning trading ahead of the conclusion of a key Federal Reserve meeting. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 500 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— GLOBAL ECONOMY — A key international economic monitor nudges up its forecast for global economic growth this year amid low interest rates, inflation and oil prices in some major countries. SENT: 330 words.

EARNINGS:

— EARNS-FEDEX — FedEx Corp.'s third-quarter profit jumps more than 50 percent and beats Wall Street expectations, because of volume growth and lower fuel costs. SENT: 320 words, photo.

— SPAIN-EARNS-INDITEX — Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, which owns Zara stores, says its net profit rose by 5 per cent in 2014 following a surge in sales. SENT: 120 words.

INDUSTRY:

STARBUCKS-ANNUAL MEETING

NEW YORK — Starbucks is joining the national conversation about race in the latest sign that corporations are trying to tie their brands to big social issues. The coffee chain known for its Frappuccinos says it will elaborate on the plans at its annual shareholder meeting in Seattle. Candice Choi. SENT: 440 words, photo. UPCOMING: Will be updated from 1 p.m. meeting.

RUSSIA-GM

MOSCOW — General Motors will slash production in Russia and pull its mass-market Opel brand completely in the face of plummeting sales in the economically troubled country. By James Ellingworth. SENT: 620 words, photo.

AMERICAN EXPRESS-LOYALTY PROGRAM

LOS ANGELES — American Express is preparing to launch a customer loyalty program in the U.S. that will enable shoppers at select retailers rack up points that they can use toward future purchases at Macy's, Exxon Mobil, AT&T and other participating companies. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 620 words, photo.

MONOPOLY AT 80

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Monopoly was "born" 80 years ago — March 19, 1935 — when Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the game from Charles Darrow. Based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City, Monopoly is one of the world's most popular board games. Here's how the game might look today. By Wayne Parry. SENT: 950 words, photos, video.

With:

MONOPOLY-10 THINGS — 10 things you might not know about Monopoly. SENT: 380 words, photo.

GULF LEASE SALE

NEW ORLEANS — Regulators say only 195 bids were placed on the 41 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico up for new oil and gas leasing off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That's the lowest number since 1986. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.

— GOLDMAN-LENDING BUSINESS — A lending company launched by Goldman Sachs is falling in its stock market debut. SENT: 240 words.

— OIL LEAK-ARKANSAS — A federal class-action lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation over a 2013 crude oil spill in central Arkansas is dismissed by a federal judge, who acknowledges in his ruling that his decision seems unfair. SENT: 440 words.

— NEW YORK-CUBA-FLIGHT — New direct charter flights between New York City and Cuba are now taking off. SENT: 130 words, video.

— SEATTLE MINIMUM WAGE — Supporters of higher pay for minimum wage workers hail a federal judge's decision clearing the way for Seattle's new minimum wage law to take effect as planned next month. SENT: 730 words, photo.

— AUSTRALIA-BANK BRIBERY — A U.S. citizen who was recently a senior executive at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia pleads not guilty in a Sydney court to charges that he accepted bribes to award a contract to a U.S. information technology firm. SENT: 400 words.

— LUFTHANSA-STRIKE — Hundreds of flights are canceled in a strike by Lufthansa pilots at the German airline's short- and medium-haul operations — the latest in a string of walkouts. SENT: 290 words, photo.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

SXSW WRAPPED UP

AUSTIN, Texas — Music flooded into the streets around Austin's convention center as South by Southwest's music festival kicked off and the interactive portion wrapped up. Here are some highlights as South by Southwest Interactive draws to a close. By Mae Anderson. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.

HTC-DAMAGED PHONES

NEW YORK — Cracked your screen or dropped your phone in the toilet? No problem, if you buy HTC's new One smartphone. Starting next month, HTC will replace damaged phones free of charge during its normal 12-month warranty period — no questions asked. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 380 words, photo.

— GERMANY-UBER — A German court bans Uber from offering its ridesharing service nationwide, adding to the company's troubles in Europe. SENT: 140 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

BRITAIN-BUDGET

LONDON — The Conservative-led U.K. government announces a series of mini-giveaways that it hopes will boost support ahead of what is expected to be one of the tightest general elections in generations. By Danica Kirka. SENT: 360 words, photos.

With:

— BRITAIN-INTEREST RATES — Bank of England policymakers vote unanimously at their meeting this month to keep interest rates at a record low 0.5 percent even as the economy continues to expand. SENT: 140 words.

— GREECE-BAILOUT — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his government will honor an election promise to end budget austerity, a note of defiance ahead of an expected meeting with the leaders of Germany and France on the country's troubled bailout. SENT: 350 words.

— SWEDEN-RATE CUT — Sweden's central bank has cut its key interest rate to a record low of minus 0.25 percent, saying the move was "to make monetary policy even more expansionary." SENT: 130 words.

— JAPAN-TRADE — Japan's trade deficit narrows in February, thanks to a plunge in import costs due to lower crude oil prices. It was the 32nd straight month of deficits. SENT: 250 words, photo.

— CHINA-STATE INDUSTRY AUDIT — The Cabinet agency that oversees China's biggest banks, oil producers and other government companies announces plans to have outside auditors examine their foreign assets in a new move to tighten control over state industry. SENT: 370 words.

— CYPRUS-DRILLING — Cyprus and French oil and gas company Total sign an agreement to extend a search for natural gas off the east Mediterranean island's southern coast after disappointing results from an initial exploration round. SENT: 120 words.

— EUROPE-TAX — The European Union plans to oblige member countries to share details of tax agreements made with big companies and end the practice of secret sweetheart deals. SENT: 360 words.

— GERMANY-PROTESTS — At least four police cars are set alight and two officers injured as authorities confront anti-austerity protesters trying to blockade the inauguration ceremony for the European Central Bank's new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. SENT: 470 words, photos, video.