Business review from the Economist

Fed signals it won't raise rates in 2019

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, and suggested it would not raise them at all this year (in December the Fed indicated rates might be lifted twice in 2019). It is also to slow the pace at which it shrinks its portfolio of Treasury holdings from May, and stop reducing its balance-sheet in September.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank said they would explore a merger, ending months of speculation. A combined entity would be Europe's third-biggest bank and hold about one-fifth of German deposits. The German government is thought to favor a tie-up between the Frankfurt neighbors. A deal faces many hurdles, not least from unions opposed to the potential 30,000 job losses.

In one of the biggest deals to take place in the financial-services industry since the end of the financial crisis, Fidelity National Information Services, a fintech company, offered to buy Worldpay, a payment-processor, in a $43 billion transaction. It is the latest in a string of acquisitions in the rapidly consolidating payments industry amid a shift to cashless transactions.

Lyft gave an indicative price range for its forthcoming IPO of up to $68 a share, which would value it at $23 billion and make it one of the biggest tech flotations in recent years. Uber, Lyft's larger rival, is expected to soon launch its IPO.

Bayer's share price swooned after another jury found that someone's cancer had developed through exposure to a weedkiller made by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year. The German drugs and chemicals company has been under the spotlight since August, when a jury reached a similar verdict in a separate case.

Anil Ambani avoided a three-month prison sentence when his brother, Mukesh, stepped in at the last minute to help pay the $77 million that a court ordered was owed to Ericsson for work it did at Anil's now-bankrupt telecoms firm. Anil Ambani, who was once ranked the world's sixth-richest man, said he was "touched" by his brother's gesture.

AB InBev shook up its board, appointing a new chairman and replacing directors. The changes are meant to reassure investors that the brewer intends to revitalize its drooping share price and pay down the $103 billion in net debt it accumulated in a spree of acquisitions. They also reduce the influence of 3G Capital, a private-equity firm that helped create ab InBev via several mergers. 3G's strategy has been called into question by mounting problems at Kraft Heinz, another corporate titan it helped bring about.

The White House nominated Steve Dickson, a former executive at Delta Air Lines, to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is under pressure to explain its procedures for certifying Boeing's 737 Max 8, which has crashed twice within five months, killing hundreds of people. It has not had a permanent head since early 2018, in part because Donald Trump had mooted giving the job to his personal pilot.

Global politics from the Economist

Shooting of 50 Muslims rocks New Zealand

A gunman killed 50 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, streaming part of the atrocity live on Facebook. The attacker, an Australian who had been living in New Zealand for two years, was motivated by fears that immigration was threatening "white" culture. The government vowed to tighten gun-control laws and monitor right-wing extremists more carefully.

More than 1,000 people may have been killed when a cyclone hit Mozambique, causing floods around the city of Beira. The storm also battered Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan's strongman president of 30 years, resigned abruptly. He retains considerable influence; his daughter is the new chairman of the Senate and the constitution gives him lifetime immunity from prosecution. The capital, Astana, is to be renamed Nursultan after him.

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's president, was challenged for her party's nomination in next year's presidential election by Lai Ching-te, a former prime minister. No sitting Taiwanese president has faced a primary before.

The Philippines withdrew from the International Criminal Court. Rodrigo Duterte, the country's president, initiated the move a year ago after the court began probing his campaign to encourage police to shoot suspected drug dealers.

Amnesty International said that 14 civilians were killed during five airstrikes by U.S. forces in Somalia.

Mass protests continued for a third week against Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's ailing president.