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News Wrap: Fed seeks to reassure markets on interest rates

In our Friday news wrap, the chairman of the Federal Reserve sought to ease Wall Street’s concerns over future interest rate hikes. Speaking at a forum in Atlanta, Jerome Powell said the Fed is “listening” closely to the market. Also, China announced that a U.S. delegation will travel to Beijing on Monday, to restart trade talks that have been stalled for weeks.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The U.S. economy turned in big numbers for December. The Labor Department reported a net gain of 312,000 jobs, much more than expected. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent, but that was due to more job-seekers looking for work.

    And average hourly pay was up by 3.2 percent from a year ago. The jobs report touched off a new buying binge for stocks, in yet another wild day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 750 points to close at 23433. The Nasdaq rose 275 points, and the S&P 500 added 84.

    We will take a fresh look at the market's volatility after the news summary.

    The Federal Reserve chairman sought to ease Wall Street's concerns today about future interest rate hikes. Jerome Powell spoke at a forum in Atlanta. He said the Fed wants to be patient, especially given a shaky stock market and its worries that economic growth will slow.

  • Jerome Powell:

    I will just say that we're listening carefully to that. We're listening sensitively to the message that markets are sending, and we're going to be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump has sharply criticized the rate hikes, and has said he is not happy with Powell. But the Fed chair said that if the president asked him to resign, he would refuse.

    China announced today that a U.S. delegation will travel to Beijing on Monday to restart trade talks. It comes amid tensions over tariffs and signs that China's economy is slowing. The two nations agreed last month to delay another round of tariff increases for now.

    Talk of impeaching President Trump blew up today over remarks by a newly-elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Last night, Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib used an obscenity to refer to Mr. Trump in demanding his ouster.

    The president answered this afternoon in his Rose Garden news conference.

  • Donald Trump:

    You can't impeach someone that's doing a great job. That's the way I view it. I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family. I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't have used such language, but that Tlaib's remarks were no worse than things Mr. Trump has said.

    Tlaib showed no sign of backing down. Instead, she tweeted, "I will always speak truth to power."

    The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of congressional gerrymandering again in March. Two cases are at issue. They allege that Democrats in Massachusetts and Republicans in North Carolina drew congressional district maps that were so partisan, they violated the Constitution.

    A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld the Trump administration's restrictions on transgender people serving in the military. Today's announcement overruled a lower court judge. But the policy remains on hold because several other judges have issued injunctions against it.

    The Democrats' new House majority unveiled sweeping anti-corruption legislation today. The bill aims to make it easier to register and vote, and to curb lobbying by former lawmakers. It would also force President Trump to disclose his tax returns.

    At a Capitol news conference, Democrats said it is part of a mandate they won in the midterm elections.

  • Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas:

    We heard directly from our citizens about their disappointment with Washington, D.C. At the very same time, we received our marching orders from them. We must demonstrate to the American public that we are willing to police ourselves, in order to build the big projects and dreams and ambitions that they have for our country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The House could vote on the measure by early next month. But, in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the bill will be dead on arrival.

    Veteran U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is calling it quits. The four-term Kansas Republican is 82. He said today he will not seek reelection in 2020. Roberts complained of a loss of comity in the Senate, and appealed for — quote — "more workhorses and less show horses."

    Hotel conglomerate Marriott now says that a huge data breach affected fewer guest records than first feared. But the company confirmed today that the hackers did access more than five million unencrypted passport numbers. The FBI is investigating whether China was behind the hack.

    And Herb Kelleher, who co-founded Southwest Airlines and helped revolutionize air travel, has died. He led the way in creating low-cost air travel, and helped fuel airline deregulation. He also had a flair for wacky marketing antics, from posing with planes to dressing as Elvis. Herb Kelleher retired in 2008. He was 87 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": what is driving the surprisingly strong growth in U.S. jobs; how water rights have become a flash point between ranchers and environmentalists; Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the latest news on the shutdown; and a violinist brings the symphony to the homeless population of Los Angeles.

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