Fed will trim its stimulus as U.S. economy improves

Federal Reserve officials agreed at their January meeting that further gradual reductions in their stimulus would be appropriate as long as the economy keeps improving.

According to the minutes of the meeting released Wednesday, officials weighed the need to stress to investors that the Fed’s key short-term interest rate would remain near zero. But officials couldn’t agree on how to modify their commitment to keep the rate there well past the time the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. The rate is now 6.6 percent.

Several participants argued that unless the Fed’s economic outlook changed, it should continue to reduce its bond purchases by $10 billion at each meeting this year.

FCC won’t appeal decision on Internet content rules

The Federal Communications Commission says it won’t appeal a court decision that struck down rules it designed to ensure that the transmission of all Internet content be treated equally. .

The chairman of the FCC announced Wednesday that the agency will rewrite the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules following the ruling by a federal appeals court last month. The ruling said the FCC has the authority to regulate broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic but the agency failed to establish that its regulations don’t overreach.

The court’s decision could affect the prices consumers pay to access online content.

Signet Jewelers will buy Zale Corp. for $900 million

Signet Jewelers said Wednesday that it agreed to buy Zale Corp. for roughly $900 million to expand in North America.

Bermuda-based Signet Jewelers Ltd. operates 1,400 stores in the U.S. under names such as Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry as well as 500 stores in the U.K. under the names H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.

Zale, based in Dallas, operates 1,680 stores in North America under Zales, Gordon’s and Peoples banners.

Major stock indexes dip; crude rises 88 cents more

The Dow Jones lost 89.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 16,040.56. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 12.01 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,828.75. The Nasdaq fell 34.83 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,237.95.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery rose 88 cents to $103.31 a barrel in New York, after surging $2.13 on Tuesday. Wholesale gas for April slipped 0.39 cent to $2.9968 a gallon. Heating oil for April rose 2.7 cents to $3.0726 a gallon.

– From news service reports