The U.S. government has awarded a $167 million contract to build 8 miles (13 kilometers) of border wall in south Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the contract Wednesday. Construction will begin in February. CBP already announced a $145 million award for another 6 miles (10 kilometers) in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
Galveston, Texas-based construction firm SLSCO won both contracts.
CBP says it plans to install fence posts on the levee north of the Rio Grande, the river that separates the U.S. and Mexico in Texas, as well as lighting, patrol roads, and the clearing of vegetation.
Environmental advocates warn that construction will damage sensitive areas and endanger wildlife.
President Donald Trump has made the border wall a priority, promising during his campaign that Mexico would pay for it.
MARKETS IN BRIEF
Trump Administration Holds Hearing on Rollback of Air Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding its only public hearing on the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Obama-era rules for methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
Nearly 125 people have asked to speak at the daylong session in Denver on Wednesday.
The EPA wants to replace a 2016 rule by the Obama administration that required energy companies to step up the detection and elimination of methane leaks at well sites and other oil and gas facilities.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas. It is also a greenhouse gas.
The EPA says relaxing the 2016 rules will save $75 million annually in regulatory costs. But the agency concedes it would allow additional methane into the atmosphere, which could degrade air quality and worsen public health.
US Consumer Prices Increased 0.3% in October
Consumer prices climbed 0.3 percent in October, with higher prices for gasoline, used autos and housing contributing to the increase.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that this measure of inflation has jumped 2.5 percent over the past 12 months. Adjusted for rising prices, average weekly wages have improved 0.9 percent this year. That’s an increase of $8.52 in weekly earnings from October 2017.
The Federal Reserve targets inflation at 2 percent, just enough to encourage consumer spending and economic growth without leading to price increases that could destabilize the economy. Fed officials are expected at an upcoming meeting in December to raise a key short-term interest rate for the fourth time this year, in hopes of keeping inflation and check and preventing economic growth from overheating in ways that could trigger a downturn.
But inflation could be tamer in future months because oil prices have been trending lower and the value of the dollar has strengthened.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.2 percent in October. This core figure, which many economists consider to be a better indicator of underlying inflation, has risen 2.1 percent from a year ago.
Gas prices increased 3 percent in October, after having dipped 0.2 percent in September.
Housing — the single largest component of the index — increased 0.3 percent in October. Used car and truck prices jumped 2.6 percent on a monthly basis. But food prices slipped as fruits, vegetables, cereals and bakery products became cheaper.
Swiss Seek More Clarity on Gold Trade Amid Rights Concerns
Switzerland’s executive is calling for greater transparency and information about imports of gold into the rich Alpine country, warning that the industry has been linked to human rights violations and other wrongs like environmental damage.
The Federal Council issued a report Wednesday on the implications of the gold market on human rights violations in a country that prides itself on respecting human rights and whose refineries can churn up to 40 percent of the world gold-smelting capacity.
Switzerland has imported 65 billion-109 billion Swiss francs (dollars) of gold per year over the last five years from 92 different countries, it said.
The report warned of the industry’s impact on “poor treatment of employees and contract workers,” indigenous peoples’ lifestyles, local communities, the environment and “threats to the state of law.”
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