TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s property insurance market was already in peril. Now comes Hurricane Ian. The massive storm, barreling into Florida with 150 mph winds, double digit storm surge and drenching rains, is almost certain to further damage the state’s market, which has strained under billion dollar losses, insurer insolvencies and skyrocketing premiums. The scale and scope of the storm’s damage will become more clear in the coming days. But its impact could potentially exacerbate existing problems and burden a state-run insurer that has already seen a sharp increase in policies as homeowners struggle to find coverage in the private market.
UK central bank intervenes in market to halt economic crisis
LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has taken emergency action to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy. The move Wednesday comes after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring. The central bank warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability.” The International Monetary Fund also has taken the rare step to urge a member of the Group of Seven advanced economies to abandon its plan to cut taxes and increase borrowing to cover the cost.
Biden to oil industry: Don’t raise prices due to hurricane
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is warning the oil and gas companies against increasing prices for consumers as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida. Biden’s message to the industry is: “Do not, let me repeat, do not use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people.” Biden says the hurricane “provides no excuse for price increases at the pump” and if it happens, he’ll ask federal officials to determine ”whether price gauging is going on.” The president is putting companies on notice: “America is watching. The industry should do the right thing.”
Stocks rally, bonds soar in relief after UK calms markets
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Wall Street soared to their first gain in more than a week as some calm returns to financial markets around the world. The S&P 500 jumped 2% Wednesday for its best day in seven weeks. That snapped Wall Street’s longest losing streak since the coronavirus crash in February 2020. Bond markets globally also relaxed after the Bank of England moved forcefully to get a budding financial crisis there under control. Treasury yields fell sharply, easing some of the pressure that has sent stocks down more than 20% on Wall Street this year.
VW readies Porsche IPO in one of Europe’s largest listings
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German automaker Volkswagen is holding a share offering for a minority stake in its luxury division, Porsche. And it will rank among the largest in European history. Volkswagen could reap as much as 9.5 billion euros to fund its push into electric cars and software. The deal lets Volkswagen tap investor interest in getting a piece of Porsche’s fat profit margins. Volkswagen is completing the lineup of investors who will get a piece of the deal. Late Wednesday, Volkswagen priced the offering at 82.50 euros a share — at the top end of its estimated range. The shares are expected to start trading Thursday.
EU plans Russia trade sanctions over ‘sham’ Ukraine votes
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union officials say the 27-nation bloc should impose “biting sanctions” on Russian trade and hit officials responsible for “sham referendums” held in parts of Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Kremlin-orchestrated referendums on joining Russia “are an illegal attempt to grab land and change international borders by force.” She said Wednesday that the EU is planning “sweeping new import bans on Russian products” and to expand its export ban “to deprive the Kremlin’s military complex of key technologies.” The EU’s executive branch headed by von der Leyen, has drawn up several rafts of sanctions against Russia since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of neighboring Ukraine seven months ago.
Alzheimer’s drug shows promise in early results of study
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Biogen and other drugmakers researching Alzheimer’s disease soared Wednesday after Japan’s Eisai Co. said its potential treatment appeared to slow the fatal disease in a late-stage study. Eisai announced results late Tuesday from a global study of nearly 1,800 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s. The drugmaker said early results showed that its treatment, lecanemab, reduced patient clinical decline by 27% when compared to a placebo or fake drug after 18 months of the infused treatment. Patients were monitored using a scale that measures how they do in areas like memory, judgement, problem solving and personal care.
Rail unions emphasize positives of their tentative deals
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The two biggest U.S. railroad unions are fighting rumors that they might impose a contract on their members even if they reject the deals that prevented a nationwide strike that could have devastated the economy. The unions are emphasizing the potential benefits of the contracts that include 24% raises. They are also explaining that the only way a deal would get imposed is if Congress intervenes to block a strike. One of the 10 other rail unions — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — voted Wednesday to join two smaller unions in accepting its deal with the railroads that include BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern.
China’s yuan slides to 14-year low after US rate hikes
BEIJING (AP) — China’s yuan has fallen to a 14-year low against the dollar despite central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns. A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates five times this year to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. Meanwhile, China’s central bank has cut rates.
Regions Bank to refund $141M for illegal overdraft fees
NEW YORK (AP) — Regions Bank for a second time in a decade was found charging illegal overdraft fees in a settlement that will require the bank to repay $141 million to customers plus $50 million in fines. An investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that between 2018 and 2021, Regions charged overdraft fees on some ATM withdrawals as well as some debit card purchases. That’s even after the Alabama-based bank told the customers they had enough funds in their account to cover the transactions. Regions said that while it disagreed with the bureau’s assessment of its business practices, the bank was pleased to put the settlement behind it.
The S&P 500 rose 71.75 points, or 2%, to 3,719.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 548.75 points, or 1.9%, to 29,683.74. The Nasdaq gained 222.13 points, or 2.1%, to 11,051.64. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies jumped 52.73 points, or 3.2%, to 1,715.24.