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Stocks edge hgher...Fed to decide rates 'meeting by meeting'

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have turned slightly higher on Wall Street, shaking off an early loss. Markets remain turbulent amid concerns about inflation and whether rising interest rates will help or hinder the economy. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq rose 0.9%. The price of U.S. crude oil fell 4.7%. Solid gains from big technology and health care companies helped offset steep losses from energy companies. Microsoft rose 1.2%. Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell to 3.14%.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is underscoring the Fed’s determination to raise interest rates high enough to slow inflation. In remarks prepared for delivery to the Senate Banking Committee, Powell says the pace of rate hikes will depend on whether — and how quickly — inflation starts to decline, something the Fed will assess on a “meeting by meeting” basis. The Fed’s moves are intended to fight surging prices but there are fears they could tip the economy into recession.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is preparing to call on Congress to suspend the federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months. It’s meant to ease financial pressures at the pump and reveals the political toxicity of high gas prices in an election year. Administration officials say Biden wants to suspend the 18.4 cents-a-gallon tax on gas and 24.4 cents-a-gallon on diesel fuel. If the gas savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump. Prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide. Lawmakers in both parties have been skeptical of the idea. The Democratic president also wants states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has announced Wednesday that it is providing logistical support to import the equivalent of about 16 million 8-ounce baby formula bottles from Mexico. That starts this weekend as part of efforts to ease nationwide supply shortages caused by the closure of the largest U.S. manufacturing plant. Trucks contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services will drive about 1 million pounds of Gerber Good Start Gentle infant formula from a Nestlé plant to U.S. retailers, the White House says. That’s nearly double the amount imported to the U.S. to date. Cargo flights from Europe and Australia already have brought baby formula into the U.S., and more will come this weekend.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An IRS watchdog says customer service issues are worsening at the tax-return-processing agency. A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate says taxpayers are experiencing longer wait times on the phone, there’s an even bigger backlog of paper returns than there was a year ago, and delays in processing paper returns have been running six months to one year. The report on taxpayer challenges is submitted twice a year to Congress. The latest edition comes one day after the Internal Revenue Service announced that it is on track to eliminate its 2021 backlog of tax returns.

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