BANKING

Fed proposes easing rule

The Federal Reserve is proposing to ease a rule aimed at defusing the kind of risk-taking on Wall Street that helped trigger the 2008 financial meltdown.

The Fed under new leadership on Wednesday unveiled proposed changes to the Volcker Rule, which bars banks’ risky trading bets for their own profit with depositors’ money. The high-risk activity is known as proprietary trading.

The proposed changes would match the strictest applications of the rule to banks that do the most trading — 18 banks with at least $10 billion in trading assets and liabilities. They account for 95 percent of all U.S. bank trading and include some foreign banks with U.S. operations, Fed officials said.

Less stringent requirements would apply to banks that do less trading.

The idea is to make it easier for banks to comply with the Volcker Rule without sacrificing the banks’ safety and soundness, the officials said.

AUTOS

Startup to buy Indiana plant

An electric vehicle startup announced Wednesday that it is retooling an Indiana factory and hopes to conduct trial runs for two new lines of vehicles by the end of the year.

State officials say SF Motors, a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of China’s Chongqing Sokon Industry Group, plans to hire back some workers who were laid off when AM General halted operations at its Mishawaka plant last year.

The company says it will spend $160 million to buy, renovate and retool the factory, which will serve as the company’s main U.S. manufacturing plant.

It plans to employ up to 467 workers.

To secure the deal, the state of Indiana is offering the company $3.8 million in tax credits and up to $500,000 for worker training. The state is also offering an additional $653,000 in tax credits through a program that encourages companies to take over existing out-of-operation facilities.

ECONOMY

U.S. growth estimate revised

The U.S. economy grew at a weaker 2.2 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, as consumers and businesses slowed their spending. But given the economy’s recent performance, analysts are still looking for a solid rebound in the current quarter.

Growth in the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, came in slightly below the first estimate last month of 2.3 percent in the January-March period, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. GDP is expected to strengthen to a growth rate of about 3 percent in the April-June quarter.

The Trump administration is projecting that its economic policies will keep growth at rates of 3 percent or better in coming years.

The new report was the government’s second of three looks at GDP in the first quarter.

The biggest factor in the downward revision was less inventory building by businesses, which shaved 0.3 percentage points off growth.

SMALL BUSINESS

Slowdown seen in May hiring

Small businesses created fewer jobs during May, joining larger companies in a slowdown that may be due to a lack of qualified candidates.

Payroll company ADP said Wednesday it counted 38,000 new jobs at its customers with 49 or fewer employees. That’s down from an average of nearly 59,000 in the first four months of this year.

ADP’s tally of new jobs at companies of all sizes fell to 178,000 from a four-month average of nearly 229,000.

Some companies have said in surveys they want to hire but struggle to find candidates with the right skills. A survey released Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife showed that 32 percent of the 1,002 small business owners questioned between late March and late April expect to hire.

In a separate survey taken in early April by Wells Fargo and Gallup, 43 percent of the 603 owners questioned want to hire.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.