National briefs: Fed watching weak data

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WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Thursday some recent economic figures have pointed to weaker consumer spending than had been expected. She said the Fed will be watching to see whether the slowdown proves only a temporary blip caused by winter weather.

Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee the Fed will be alert to upcoming data to make sure the economy keeps strengthening.

In response to a question, she said she expects Fed policies to favor low interest rates "for quite some time."

Officials seek credit scores

In its new role as consumer credit watchdog, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday urged credit card companies to give customers free copies of their credit scores -- crucial pieces of financial information used to evaluate qualifications for mortgages, credit cards and even certain types of insurance and rental apartments.

While the agency is not requiring the companies to provide the information, it sent a letter to top executives at the nation's largest credit card companies and asked them to make the scores available in customers' statements or online.

A few card issuers recently began providing the scores on their own -- well before the agency's call -- and others are said to be in discussions to follow suit.

Holder home from hospital

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder was treated at a Washington hospital Thursday for an elevated heart rate after he experienced lightheadedness and shortness of breath during a staff meeting.

Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said Mr. Holder, 63, arrived at MedStar Washington Hospital Center at 10:30 a.m. and received medication that quickly restored his heart rate to a normal level.

Mr. Holder left the hospital at 1:15 p.m., walking out without assistance, and went home to rest.

Ky. same-sex marriages

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Same-sex marriages performed in other states are legal in Kentucky under a final order issued by a federal judge in Louisville.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II issued an order Thursday that strikes down portions of a 1998 state law and a 2004 state constitutional amendment defining marriage in Kentucky as between one man and one woman, and that prohibited the state from recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples married in other states are now entitled to the legal benefits all other married couples in Kentucky receive, such as the ability to file joint tax returns. Judge Heyburn's order made no reference to the state's request for a stay.

Attorney General Jack Conway and Gov. Steve Beshear, both Democrats, are jointly deciding how the state should proceed, a spokeswoman said.

Married man ordained

ST. LOUIS -- The new priest at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis is a married man.

Wissam Akiki was ordained Thursday night in the church that sits near downtown St. Louis.

Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. However, the Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s.

Pope John Paul II called for greater acceptance of Eastern Catholic traditions. Popes have made exceptions on a case-by-case basis for married U.S. men to become Eastern Catholic priests.

Pope Francis gave permission for Mr. Akiki to be ordained. It's considered an exception, not policy change.

-- Compiled from news services


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