Retail sales up 1% in June, easing fears of a recession
NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers picked up their spending from May to June, underscoring their resilience despite painfully higher prices at the gas pump and in grocery aisles and allaying fears that the economy might be on the verge of a recession. U.S. retail sales rose 1% in June, from a decline of 0.1 % in May. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation and...
Retail sales up 1% in June, easing fears of a recession
NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers picked up their spending from May to June, underscoring their resilience despite painfully higher prices at the gas pump and in grocery aisles and allaying fears that the economy might be on the verge of a recession. U.S. retail sales rose 1% in June, from a decline of 0.1 % in May. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation and so largely reflect higher prices, particularly for gas. But they also show that consumers are still providing crucial support for the economy. At the same time, the spending gain is modest enough that it likely won’t encourage the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates even more aggressively. Stocks rose after the report’s release.
Long lines are back at US food banks as inflation hits high
PHOENIX (AP) — Long lines are back at outside food banks around the U.S. as working Americans overwhelmed by inflation increasingly seek handouts to feed their families. Many people are coming for the first time amid the skyrocketing grocery and gas prices. The food banks struggle to help even as federal programs provide less food, grocery store donations wane and cash gifts don’t go nearly as far while U.S. inflation hits a 40-year high. Charitable food distribution has remained far above amounts given away before the coronavirus pandemic, even though demand tapered off somewhat late last year.
Some schools build affordable housing to retain teachers
DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area school district built subsidized housing for teachers and staff who could not afford market rent. More districts in California and the U.S. are exploring the idea as rent and home prices grow out of reach. In West Virginia, the American Federation of Teachers helped build a housing complex with apartments for teachers and retail shops. But such projects face obstacles, including pushback from residents. The Jefferson Union High School District in California’s San Mateo County wants to develop more apartments, but a community garden stands in the way. Skeptics question whether schools should even get into housing development.
Fed ethics inquiry clears Powell and Clarida trades
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s inspector general concluded Thursday that financial trades made several years ago by Chair Jerome Powell and Richard Clarida, then the vice chair, did not violate any laws or ethics rules. At the same time, the letter said the investigation of the presidents of two regional Federal Reserve banks who stepped down after their trading activities came to light remains ongoing. The investigation stemmed from revelations last year that several Fed officials had bought and sold stocks, real estate investment funds and other securities during periods of sharp market turmoil in the spring of 2020 after the pandemic had erupted.
Reports: Musk demands months for trial prep in Twitter suit
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Elon Musk fired back Friday at Twitter’s lawsuit seeking to force him to complete his $44 billion acquisition of the platform, according to multiple news reports. Musk’s lawyers accused the company of withholding information about fake accounts — a longtime preoccupation of Musk’s — and of creating delays and providing evasive responses and technical obstacles. Back in April, Musk pledged to pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, which agreed to those terms after reversing its initial opposition to the deal. But the two sides have been bracing for a legal fight since the billionaire said a week ago that he was backing away from his agreement to buy the company.
Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, saw its second-quarter revenue and profit decline as rising interest rates pushed people out of the housing market. The San Francisco bank earned $3.1 billion in the period, or 74 cents per share, coming up short of the 80 cents per share analysts expected. Revenue was $17 billion, also below Wall Street projections. Investors appeared less concerned with the bank’s topline numbers and more impressed with an 8% increase in loan balances, thanks to growth in consumer and corporate lending and new credit card products. Wells Fargo shares climbed 7%.
Moldova gets support from partners amid series of hardships
SIGHISOARA, Romania (AP) — Moldova received about 600 million euros in pledges at a donors conference to help the tiny country overcome rising inflation and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. More than 500,000 refugees have fled to Moldova which borders Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. The situation has put a huge strain on Moldova’s resources. The country is Europe’s poorest country and is looking to forge closer ties with the West. Moldova is also fully dependent on Russian gas supplies with prices hiking four-fold in the last year and is now contending with skyrocketing inflation. The Moldova Support Platform donor meeting Friday was held in Romanian capital Bucharest.
Growing enrollment, Optum Health propel UnitedHealth in 2Q
UnitedHealth Group hiked its 2022 forecast Friday after riding both growing health insurance enrollment and its newer care-providing businesses to a better-than-expected second quarter. The health care giant said a nearly 9% surge in Medicare Advantage customers pushed its total enrollment past 51 million people. UnitedHealth Group runs UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest insurers. But it also has been investing for several years now in its Optum segment, which provides care, manages prescription plans and offers technology support. Revenue from that segment grew 18% to about $45.1 billion in the quarter
Stocks end higher on Wall Street, still down for the week
Stocks closed higher Wall Street Friday following some encouraging economic data on consumer sentiment and inflation expectations. The gains weren’t enough to pull major indexes out of the red for the week, however, following worrisome reports on high prices facing consumers and businesses. The S&P 500 rose 1.9%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.1% and the Nasdaq rose 1.8%. Bond yields mostly fell. A July survey from the University of Michigan showed that consumers’ inflation expectations have held steady or improved. UnitedHealth Group rose after raising its profit forecast for the year. Citigroup jumped following an encouraging earnings report.
Biden intervenes in railroad contract fight to block strike
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — President Joe Biden has blocked a freight railroad strike for at least 60 days by naming a board of arbitrators to intervene in the contract dispute, averting action that could have disrupted all kinds of shipments. The move announced Friday will keep 115,000 rail workers on the job while the arbitrators develop a set of contract recommendations for both sides to consider. A new round of negotiations is expected after those recommendations are issued. If the railroads and their 12 unions can’t agree on a contract within the next 60 days, Congress would likely step in to prevent a strike by voting to impose terms or taking other action.