News Wrap: Fed will keep key interest rate near record lows

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United States Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2016.          REUTERS/Gary Cameron     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSOU1R

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  In the day’s other news:  The Federal Reserve held fast on keeping a key short-term interest rate near record lows.  Fed Chair Janet Yellen said economic activity has picked up, but there’s no need yet to put on the brakes.

JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve:  We’re not seeing strong pressures on utilization, suggesting overheating, and my assessment would be, based on this evidence, that the economy has a little more room to run Than might have been previously thought.  That’s good news.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Yellen did suggest an interest rate increase is likely before year’s end.

GWEN IFILL:  The Fed’s action sent Wall Street higher.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 163 points to close at 18293.  The Nasdaq rose nearly 54 points, and the S&P 500 added 23.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The crisis in Syria took center stage today at the U.N. Security Council.

The U.S. and Russia clashed over the failure of the latest cease-fire, and Monday’s deadly attack on an aid convoy.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied responsibility and offered other explanations.  But Secretary of State John Kerry shot back, “This is not a joke,” and he condemned what he called word games.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  Now, this attack has dealt a very heavy blow to our efforts to bring peace to Syria, and it raises a profound doubt about whether Russia and the Assad regime can or will live up to the obligations that they agreed to in Geneva.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Kerry called for grounding all aircraft flying over routes for humanitarian deliveries.  Meanwhile, another airstrike hit a mobile medical unit outside Aleppo overnight.  Activists reported at least 13 people died.

GWEN IFILL:  President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a final meeting today at the U.N., after years of testy relations.

This time, the two leaders were all smiles.  The president said a new $38 billion military aid package will let Israel cope with — quote — “enormous uncertainty in the region.”

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The cost of the emergency allergy shot EpiPen and the company that makes it drew bipartisan scorn today from Congress.  At a House hearing, Heather Bresch, CEO of drugmaker Mylan, defended raising the price more than 500 percent since 2007.  It now costs $608 for a two-pack.  She said Mylan will soon introduce a generic version at half the cost, but lawmakers were unimpressed.

REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (R-Tenn.):  A mother would cut off her right arm to get that dose of drug.  You decided to charge $600, instead of cutting off her arm, and now you’re saying you’re dropping it to $300 and that should make us all feel better, when, in fact, that’s probably about 10 times what the drug should cost.

HEATHER BRESCH, CEO, Mylan:  Congressman, we want everyone who needs an EpiPen to have an EpiPen.  All the programs that we put in place, from the generic, to the higher patient assistant program, to the co-pay card, so trying to address every facet of patient to make sure they can have access to EpiPen is what we will remain focused on.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Bresch went on to say the company makes $50 profit from each EpiPen.

GWEN IFILL:  And outside the Capitol today, construction crews started work on the platform for January’s inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.  Republican and Democratic leaders hammered in the ceremonial first nails for the massive 10,000-square-foot structure; 1,600 people will have to fit on the stage.

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