BC-Business News Preview

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Among the stories Wednesday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

FEDERAL RESERVE — The Federal Reserve has taken a wait-and-see stance since raising interest rates from record lows in December — waiting and seeing whether the U.S. economic picture warrants another rate hike. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 750-word setup, photo. UPCOMING: Will be updated with 2 p.m. release of Fed statement and 2:30 p.m. Yellen news conference.

With: — FINANCIAL MARKETS — U.S. stocks are opening slightly lower despite a raft of generally positive economic reports as investors await the Federal Reserve's comments on the state of the economy later in the day. SENT: 250 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK-MARCH MADNESS — March Madness is taking over at small companies that are letting employees watch the NCAA basketball tournament while they work. By Joyce Rosenberg. UPCOMING: 800 words by noon, photos.

CHINA-ECONOMY — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledges to press ahead with an overhaul of the state-dominated economy and financial markets despite slowing growth, saying the country's rising debt levels are under control. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

DEUTSCHE BOERSE-LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE — The London Stock Exchange and Germany's Deutsche Boerse say they are merging in an all-stock deal that will leave the German side with a majority in a company worth about $30 billion. By David McHugh. SENT: 400 words, photos.

QATAR-OIL MEETING — OPEC member states and other major oil producers are planning to meet next month to discuss a freeze in oil output levels. By Adam Schreck. SENT: 350 words, photo.

HOME CONSTRUCTION — Construction of new homes rose in February to the highest level in five months, but applications for new construction were weak for a third month. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 350 words, photo.

CONSUMER PRICES — U.S. consumer prices fell in February, dragged by another steep drop in energy prices. However, core inflation managed to tick higher, led by the biggest jump in clothing costs in seven years. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 400 words, photo.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION — U.S. factories produced more machinery, appliances and other goods last month, the second straight increase in output and a sign manufacturing may be stabilizing after a difficult year. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 380 words, photo.

CONGRESS-BUDGET — A House panel is pressing ahead with a 10-year balanced budget plan that cuts federal health care programs and agency budgets even though tea partyers are rebelling in a setback for Speaker Paul Ryan. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 630 words.

EARNINGS:

EARNS-FEDEX — FedEx Corp. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release, then updated.

INDUSTRY:

FOOD AND FARM-MAPLE'S MOMENT — Once a side venture that helped farmers pay their taxes, Vermont maple syrup is becoming big business, with corporations buying up thousands of acres of trees as they bank in part on a rise in demand for alternative natural sweeteners. By Lisa Rathke. SENT: 650 words, photos.

ANBANG-FIDELITY & GUARANTY — China's Anbang Insurance Group receives approval from a U.S. committee for its nearly $1.6 billion purchase of life insurance company Fidelity & Guaranty Life. SENT: 120 words, photos.

EUROPE-CAR SALES — Volkswagen, penalized down by its emissions scandal, continues to miss out on the booming European car market. SENT: 150 words.

PEABODY ENERGY-BANKRUPTCY — The largest American coal miner, Peabody Energy, is delaying an interest payment due this week and warned that it may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. SENT: 210 words, photo.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

INTERNATIONAL

CUBA-TRAVEL-Q&A — Some questions and answers about the new rules for Americans traveling to Cuba. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 650 words, photos.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY — Britain's Treasury chief is set to unveil a budget replete with billions of pounds (dollars) in cuts to achieve a target of balancing the books in the face of weaker global economic growth. By Danica Kirka. SENT: 260 words, photos.