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  • Fed gives banks more time to sell risky holdings Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 6:21 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— The Federal Reserve is delaying by two years a requirement that U.S. banks sell off their riskiest investments such as stakes in private equity and hedge funds. Banks say they need more time to complete the sales. The Fed said Thursday that it plans to extend from July 2015 to July 2017 the deadline by which banks will have to sell their stakes.

  • Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 5:56 PM ET

    HAVANA— The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings. Some fear a cultural onslaught, or that crime and drugs, both rare in Cuba, will become common along with visitors from the...

  • Dec 18- U.S. banks will be able to do more business in Cuba after the United States and the island nation agreed to restore diplomatic ties, but trade groups said their members will be slow to ramp up operations, fearing big penalties for mistakes. The U.S. Treasury Department said it expects to ease its sanction rules for banking in Cuba in the coming weeks.

  • UNITED NATIONS, Dec 18- Iran has not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in nuclear talks with six world powers aimed at ending a 12- year standoff with the Islamic Republic over its atomic ambitions, France and Britain said on Thursday. The remarks, at the United Nations, came just after the completion of another inconclusive round of negotiations in Geneva...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- U.S. regulators have declared insurer MetLife Inc so big that its failure could destabilize financial markets, a designation that brings extra regulation. MetLife said in a statement on Thursday announcing the designation that it was disappointed by the decision, made by the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council, and was considering...

  • Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 4:52 PM ET

    The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in the cancellation of a Sony film and ultimately could cost the movie studio hundreds of millions of dollars. "The Sony breach is a real wake-up call even after the year of mega-breaches we've seen," says Lee Weiner, Boston security firm Rapid7's senior vice...

  • UNITED NATIONS, Dec 18- Iran has not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in nuclear talks with six world powers aimed at ending a 12- year standoff with the Islamic Republic over its atomic ambitions, France and Britain said on Thursday. The remarks at the United Nations came just after the completion of another inconclusive round of negotiations in Geneva...

  • Figures on government spending and debt Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 4:34 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Figures on government spending and debt.

  • WASHINGTON— Major insurer MetLife Inc. says U.S. regulators have labeled it as a potential threat to the financial system, a designation that brings stricter government oversight. MetLife said Thursday that the Financial Stability Oversight Council has designated the company as "systemically important." As a result, MetLife must increase its cushion of...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- The United States said on Thursday a cyber attack on Sony Pictures was a serious national security matter and the Obama administration was considering a proportional response, although the White House stopped short of blaming North Korea. A U.S. government official said on Thursday that U.S. investigators were looking into the possibility...

  • IRS head says budget cuts could delay tax refunds Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 3:39 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday. About half the people who call the IRS for assistance this filing season won't be able to get through to a person, Koskinen said. Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million for the budget year that ends in...

  • Obama signs bill to sanction Venezuelan officials Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 3:24 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama has signed legislation into law allowing him to sanction Venezuelan government officials who were involved in a crackdown on anti-government protesters. Last summer, the State Department imposed a travel ban on Venezuelan officials who were accused of abuses during street protests that left dozens of people dead.

  • Correction: Cuba-Travel story Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 3:18 PM ET

    NEW YORK— NEW YORK— In a story Dec. 17 about travel to Cuba, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of Americans who were authorized to travel to Cuba last year. US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism. NEW YORK— Cuba was once a haven for sun-seeking American tourists.

  • Files of more than 40,000 federal workers breached Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 2:51 PM ET

    Concerned that some data might have been exposed, the Office of Personnel Management has begun notifying workers that their files were in jeopardy. The USIS breach, similar to previous hacking episodes traced to China, tainted the files of at least 25,000 Department of Homeland Security workers and prompted the personnel office's decision to halt all of USIS'...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- The United States said on Thursday a cyber attack on Sony Pictures blamed on North Korea was a serious national security matter and the Obama administration was considering a proportional response. Hackers who said they were incensed by a film on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader attacked Sony Corp last month, leaking...

  • Obama waives sanctions authority despite new law Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 1:31 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday authorizing new sanctions on Russia but said he does not plan to impose the penalties outlined in the measure. The U.S. and Europe have sought to present a united front against Russia over Moscow's provocations in Ukraine. Obama has told Russian President Vladimir Putin he would roll back U.S....

  • *US, Cuba have agreed to restore diplomatic ties. GENEVA, Dec 18- The European Union, which once launched a lawsuit to try to break the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, said on Thursday it still wanted the blockade lifted but it was prepared to wait. Obama has wide executive powers to further open up to Cuba, and the White House wants to see the trade embargo lifted by the time...

  • Jeb Bush to step down from Barclays Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 12:54 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Taking another step toward a presidential run, Jeb Bush is resigning his advisory role with British banking giant Barclays. A Bush spokesman said Thursday that the former Florida governor would leave his senior adviser position at the end of the year. The news comes two days after Bush announced plans to "actively explore" a White House bid.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- The United States was considering possible options on Thursday in response to a major cyber attack on Sony Pictures blamed on North Korea, amid calls for tougher sanctions on Pyongyang to cut it off from the global banking system. Hackers who said they were incensed by a film on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader attacked...

  • Apple CEO donating to gay rights campaign in South Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 12:00 PM ET

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— Apple chief executive Tim Cook, the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 1,000 company, is donating money to help fund a gay rights initiative in his native Alabama and two other Southern states, organizers said Thursday. Organizers said it would help fund a three-year, $8.5 million campaign launched in April in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.