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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks down on Wednesday as the Fed hints at the possibility of raising short-term interest rates starting in 2015.

The central bank, which voted this week to cut its monthly bond purchases from $65 billion to $55 billion, also said that despite severe winter weather in January and February, the economy had recovered enough for it to continue cutting back on stimulus efforts.

U of A Considers new Online Education initiative

The University of Arkansas' board of trustees is set to consider a new online education initiative at its meeting today.

The plan, developed by UA System President Donald Bobbitt and his staff, would allow a consortium of UA System campuses move ahead on forming an online university, which would offer a limited number of degree programs designed for adults looking for the flexibility of an online education.

UA officials hope such a program would tap into a group of prospective students who now looks to for-profit online institutions for higher education.

UA is aiming to begin the program by fall 2015.

Economic Conditions Improving in NWA

New home occupancy in Washington and Benton counties was up nearly 61 percent in the second half of 2013, that's according to the most recent Skyline Report by Arvest Bank, released Wednesday.

Also on the rise is residential building permits. The report found permits issued in the last six months of 2013 increased by 11 percent over the same period of 2012.

Legislation Wrapped Up Fiscal Session

The House and Senate decided to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a measure that gives a tax break on sand used to drill for natural gas.

Beebe has said it was unconstitutional for the Legislature to pass such an exemption during a fiscal session.

And Arkansas House members also elected Republican Jeremy Gillam of Judsonia to succeed fellow Republican Davy Carter as the chamber's next speaker.

That could change though as another vote on the speakership will take ahead of next year's general session.

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