Banker, Yellen predict interest rate rise in 2015

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said in Hong Kong on Friday the central bank will probably raise interest rates in the second half of next year and the timing will depend on the pace of inflation.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said at a press conference after a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee last week that the central bank may wait about six months after it concludes its monthly purchases of bonds before raising the main interest rate. Her comments, along with Fed officials’ revised forecasts for faster tightening than previously expected, pushed up yields on U.S. Treasuries.

Microsoft reverses stance on its scrutiny of blogger

A week after saying it was justified in snooping through a blogger’s Hotmail account to track down a leaker of company software, Microsoft has changed course, saying it will refer such matters to law enforcement starting immediately.

The reversal, explained by general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post Friday, follows last week’s revelation that it searched through emails and instant messages of a blogger who Microsoft believed had received proprietary code illegally. Smith now says the company “will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves” and will refer the matter to law enforcement if it believes its services are being used to facilitate theft of Microsoft property.

U.S. consumer sentiment seen to slip in March

U.S. consumer sentiment slipped in March from the previous month, as Americans said they were less likely to buy cars and homes because of slightly higher interest rates. The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index dipped to 80 in March from 81.6 in February. Americans also barely increased their spending in February following a weak January performance, strong evidence that the severe winter will hold back the economy in the first quarter. Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in February following an even weaker 0.2 percent rise in January, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Consumer spending report lifts stocks mostly higher

A positive report on U.S. consumer spending helped push stocks mostly higher Friday for the first time in three days.

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 58.83 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,323.06. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,857.62. The Nasdaq composite, which includes a number of large biotech companies, rose just 4.53 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,155.76.

– From news service reports