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  • Fed to be 'patient' about a rate hike; stocks soar Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 2:07 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— The Federal Reserve is edging closer to raising interest rates from record lows given a strengthening U.S. economy. At a news conference afterward, Chair Janet Yellen said she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015.. "The Fed is sending the message that the broader U.S. economy is on the path toward healing," said Steven Ricchiuto, chief...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 17- A tiny mutual fund based in Miami, a clutch of cruise line operators and a Canadian natural resources company are the early winners in the Obama administration's surprise move on Wednesday to thaw relations with Cuba. While the Cuban economy is small, with gross domestic product of roughly $70 billion, according to the World Bank, comparable to...

  • WASHINGTON— Fed promises' patient' approach to determining when to hike interest rates.

  • WASHINGTON— Democrat Lauren McFerran is the newest member of the five-member National Labor Relations Board. She replaces Nancy J. Schiffer, also a Democrat, who served on the board since August 2013 and whose term expired Tuesday. Previously, McFerran served as chief labor counsel for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

  • Announcing the end of what he called a "rigid" policy of isolation of Cuba that had been ineffective, Obama said the United States would move toward normal ties and would open an embassy in Cuba. Castro spoke in Cuba as Obama made his announcement on a policy shift made possible by the release of American Alan Gross, 65, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years.

  • Business events scheduled for Thursday Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 1:38 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.. WASHINGTON— Mortgage company Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.. WASHINGTON— Conference Board releases leading indicators for November, 10 a.m..

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 17- The renewal of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba could be the start of a long thaw in decades of animosity but the path is full of obstacles, not least the U.S. sanctions on the Communist-run island. Only Congress can overturn the law, and with Republicans due to take control of both the House of Representatives and the...

  • Sprint accused of billing for unwanted services Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 1:00 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Federal regulators are accusing Sprint Corp. of illegally billing its wireless customers hundreds of millions of dollars in charges for text message alerts and other services that they didn't order. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday that it has sued the third-largest U.S. cellphone carrier over billing for...

  • Announcing the end of what he called a "rigid" policy of isolation of Cuba that had been ineffective, Obama said the United States planned to move toward normal ties and would open an embassy in Cuba. Castro spoke in Cuba as Obama made his announcement on a policy shift made possible by the release of American Alan Gross, 65, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five...

  • Obama: time to boost travel, commerce with Cuba Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:23 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama says his changes to U.S. policy with Cuba will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and to use their credit and debit cards in the country. Obama also says that more resources should be able to reach the Cuban people, so he's significantly increasing the amount of money that people in the U.S. can send to them.

  • Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:13 PM ET

    HAVANA— Bells tolled in celebration and teachers halted lessons midday as President Raul Castro told his country Wednesday that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States after more than a half-century of hostility. President Barack Obama in Washington. Guillermo Delgado, a 72- year-old retiree, welcomed the announcement as "a victory for Cuba...

  • US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:11 PM ET

    NEW YORK— Cuba was once a haven for sun-seeking American tourists. President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday of plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba doesn't suddenly lift the ban on U.S. tourism. "Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean, so there's some exciting possibilities," said Roger Frizzell, spokesman for Carnival Corp. He said "some...

  • AP Interview: McConnell wants to stop coal rules Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:10 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., pledged on Wednesday to do all he can to stop President Barack Obama's coal plant regulations, saying a White House "crusade" has devastated his state's economy. McConnell takes over the Senate leadership and its new Republican majority in January. Asked if the Senate had any obligation to...

  • Private investigator also sells gun-pouch purses Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 11:43 AM ET

    TACOMA, Wash.— Hours into a surveillance, two private investigators sat in the front seat of a car when the man working alongside Paula Summers asked if the paper Starbucks sack between them held cookies. She also has a small retail booth at South Tacoma Antique Mall, 8219 South Tacoma Way. Washington's rate of people with concealed-carry permits is higher than at...

  • HAVANA/ WASHINGTON, Dec 17- President Barack Obama was set to announce that the United States and Cuba are moving to normalize diplomatic relations more than 50 years after they were severed, the biggest U.S. policy shift in decades of hostile ties with the island. Previewing his announcement, U.S. officials said the United States and Cuba would move to open...

  • Freed American endured years of declining health Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 10:29 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— Alan Gross spent five years wasting away in a Cuban prison, losing hope that he would ever be free and at one point apparently contemplating suicide. The former federal subcontractor arrested in 2009 was freed as part of a historic announcement that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. Gross' wife, Judy, has called him a...

  • President Barack Obama was set to announce a shift in policy toward Cuba on Wednesday and the Associated Press reported the changes would include the opening of an embassy in Cuba and the start of talks to normalize relations. The shift in policy, which could be one of the biggest changes in decades of animosity between communist-ruled Cuba and the United...

  • US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 8:56 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations— a historic shift that could revitalize the flow of money and people across the narrow waters that separate the two nations. President Barack Obama's dramatic announcement in Washington— seconded by Cuban President Raul...

  • Senate confirms new chief of U.S. auto safety agency Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 8:41 AM ET

    WASHINGTON, Dec 17- The Senate confirmed Mark Rosekind to lead the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has come under criticism this year for not responding more quickly to evidence of potentially deadly vehicle defects. The Senate confirmed his appointment by unanimous consent late Tuesday. NHTSA has come under fire from safety...

  • US current account deficit rises to $100.3 billion Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 8:31 AM ET

    The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the deficit in the current account rose to $100.3 billion in the third quarter, up 1.9 percent from a revised $98.4 billion deficit in the April-June period. In the April-June period, the government had fined the French bank BNP Paribas $9 billion for violating sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba.