US economy grew at solid 3.1% rate in first quarter
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The economy grew at a healthy 3.1% rate in the first three months of this year, but signs are mounting that growth has slowed sharply in the current quarter, reflecting slower global growth and a confidence-shaking trade battle between the United States and China.
The Commerce Department reports that the gain in the gross domestic product was unchanged from a month ago. However, the components of growth shifted slightly with stronger business investment and consumer spending slowing more than previously estimated.
Economists believe growth has slowed sharply in the current April-June quarter to around 2%. They expect similar meager gains for the rest of the year, a forecast that runs counter to the Trump administration’s expectations for strong growth above 3%.
US long-term mortgage rates fall; 30-year loan at 3.73%
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week. It was the seventh decline in the past nine weeks for the key 30-year, fixed-rate loan, which reached its lowest level since November 2016.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year mortgage fell to 3.73% from 3.84% last week. By contrast, a year ago the rate stood at 4.55%.
The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans slipped this week to 3.16% from 3.25%.
^PENDING HOMES SALES
US pending home sales up 1.1% in May
WASHINGON (AP) _ More Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in May compared with the prior month, a sign buyers may be ready take advantage of low interest rates and stabilizing home prices.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its pending home sales index rose 1.1% to a reading of 105.4.
Home sales have been slowing even though average 30-year mortgage rates slipping below 4% last month. During the first five months of the year, purchases of new homes fell 3.7% compared to the same period in 2018, although existing home sales — the bulk of the market — rebounded in May.
U.S. home price gains slowed for the 13th straight month in April.
Pending sales is a measure of home purchases that are usually completed a month or two later.
World trade panel sides with India vs US in renewables tiff
GENEVA (AP) — A World Trade Organization dispute panel has ruled in favor of India in its complaint against the United States over subsidies and rules applied by eight U.S. states in the renewable energy sector.
The ruling made public today hands a defeat to the U.S. government, which has been pressuring the WTO’s highest appeals body. President Donald Trump has in the past called the Geneva-based body “unfair” to the United States.
The panel found that California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington had improperly given tax or financial incentives to domestic producers of renewable energy systems, components or “inputs” made in those states. It said the states’ measures gave preferential treatment to domestic products over imported products.
India didn’t specify the amount of alleged damage of the practices.
^APPLE MACBOOK PRO-RECALL
Apple recalls some MacBook Pro laptops due to fire hazard
NEW YORK (AP) _ Apple is recalling some MacBook Pro laptops due to a fire hazard. The batteries in the laptops can overheat, posing a safety risk. The recalled MacBook Pros have a screen that measures 15-inches diagonally and were sold between September 2015 through February 2017 in the U.S. and Canada starting at about $2,000.
Apple, in Cupertino, California, said it has gotten 26 reports about overheating, including 5 reports of minor burns and one report of smoke inhalation. There have also been 17 reports of minor damage to nearby personal property. The recall involves 432,000 laptops sold in the U.S. and 26,000 sold in Canada.
MacBook Pro owners can check here to see if their computer is recalled and if so eligible for a free battery replacement program.
NEW YORK (AP) — Fisher-Price has recalled 71,000 inclined sleeper accessories because infants can roll from their backs to their stomachs on inclined sleep products, risking injury or death.
There have been no reported injuries or deaths related to the sleeper accessory with Fisher-Price’s Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yards, but more than 30 infant fatalities have been reported on other, similarly inclined sleep products including the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.
A government consumer protection agency said that consumers should immediately stop using the inclined sleeper and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.
The Fisher-Price play yard involved in the recall includes model numbers CBV60, CHP86, CHR06, CJK24 and DJD11.
Consumers can go to www.service.mattel.com and click on “Recalls & Safety Alerts” or call 800-432-5437 during regular business hours for more information.
Audi recalls vehicles to fix air bags and loose trim piece
DETROIT (AP) — Audi is recalling 265,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix two issues, a problem with air bags and a wheel trim piece that can fall off and become a hazard on the road.
The largest recall covers certain 2015 through 2019 A3 sedans and convertibles, 2015 and 2016 S3 sedans, the 2016-2018 e-Tron electric SUVs, and 2017 through 2019 RS3 cars. A faulty electrical connection can deactivate the passenger air bag. Dealers will replace an electrical connector starting Aug. 18.
The second recall includes 2018 and 2019 Q5 and SQ5 SUVs. A wheel arch cover can detach, possibly hitting other vehicles. Customers may see the cover sticking out or hear wind noise. Dealers will secure it with another screw and nut starting Aug. 2.
Have an old car? You’re not alone. Vehicle age hits record
DETROIT (AP) — People are keeping cars and trucks longer than ever.
The average age of a U.S. vehicle hit a record 11.8 years, as better quality and technology has allowed owners to hang onto them. The 2019 figures from data provider IHS Markit show that the rate of increase is slowing, but the average age is still expected to go over 12 early in the next decade. The average is up 0.1 years from 2018.
IHS Markit Director of Global Automotive Aftermarket Mark Seng says people feel comfortable keeping vehicles longer because they’re built better than in the past.
Western states have the oldest vehicles at 12.4 years, while in the Northeast the average age is only 10.9 years. That’s due largely to less stop-and-start traffic that wears on a vehicle.
Amazon partners with Rite Aid for package pickup nationwide
SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon will add more than 1,500 package pickup locations in a partnership with the national pharmacy chain Rite Aid. Starting today, customers will be able to pick up orders at more than 100 Rite Aid stores and that will jump to more than 1,500 by the end of the year.
Major retailers broadsided by the lightening ascent of Amazon.com have discovered one advantage: physical locations where customers can pick up their items if they choose.
Amazon is trying to offset that advantage through partnerships and said that in addition to Rite Aid, it’s looking for more small to midsized businesses as well as other large chains to ally itself with in a service it’s calling “Counter.”
Counter originally launched in the U.K. and Italy under different names.