The Federal Reserve left a key interest rate unchanged on Wednesday, as falling energy prices have helped to restrain inflation pressures. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues issued a brief announcement saying they would leave the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, at 5.25 percent. The decision represents a break for borrowers. It means that banks’ prime lending rate, the benchmark for millions of consumer and business loans, will remain at 8.25 percent.
The Commerce Department will extend its oversight of the California organization that handles domain name policies, while finding ways to improve the group’s accountability and transparency. John Kneuer, the department’s acting assistant secretary for communications and information, said the government’s current agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — ICANN — works and should continue. ICANN was selected in 1998 to handle the Internet’s addressing issues, including the key directories that help Web browsers and e-mail programs find other computers on the Internet. The U.S. government, which funded the Internet’s early development, kept veto powers over ICANN decisions.
Circuit City Stores Inc. (CC), the nation’s No. 2 chain of consumer-electronics stores behind Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY), said second-quarter profit jumped more than sevenfold, beating Wall Street’s expectations, as it benefited from increased sales in flat-panel televisions and digital-imaging products and accessories.
Investment banking firm Morgan Stanley (MS) on Wednesday said its third-quarter profit surged on stronger investment-banking and trading business, surpassing analysts’ expectations. Morgan Stanley is the fourth big Wall Street firm to post better-than-expected profits for the period, bucking fears a summer slowdown in the stock market might drag on results.
Nearly eight months after federal regulators trumpeted a settlement they secured with ChoicePoint Inc. (CPS) over a data breach, the government has not paid any money to victims from a $5 million fund that was to be set up as part of the agreement. The Federal Trade Commission also has not yet implemented procedures for how the 800 fraud victims it has identified so far can apply for and receive compensation from the fund, said FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell.
Boeing Co. (BA) will be awarded an $80 million government contract to provide new high-tech ways to catch illegal immigrants trying to cross U.S. land borders, a congressional aide said.