Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Business Highlights: Fed’s concerns, business air travel

by Associated Press

Fed to discuss a pullback in economic aid with inflation up

WASHINGTON (AP) — With inflation uncomfortably high and the COVID-19 Delta variant raising economic concerns, a divided Federal Reserve will meet this week to discuss when and how it should dial back its ultra-low-interest rate policies. For now, the U.S. economy is growing briskly in the wake of the pandemic recession, and the pace of hiring is healthy, which is why the Fed’s policymakers will likely move closer toward acting soon. In particular, the officials are expected to discuss the timing and mechanics of slowing their $120 billion-a-month in bond purchases — a pandemic-era policy that is intended to keep long-term loan rates low to spur borrowing and spending.

Business travel stirs, but many road warriors stay grounded

NEW YORK (AP) — Business travel is starting to recover from the pandemic, but the road warriors are coming back much more slowly than vacation travelers. That makes a big difference to airlines, which make as much as half of their revenue from business travel. Airline officials expect business travel to pick up noticeably after Labor Day, once more offices and schools are open. Business travelers are cautiously planning their return. Some experts thinks business trips might be fewer and more carefully selected, but last longer. Others believe the pandemic will lead to different kinds of travel, but not necessarily less, with fewer conferences and more chances for far-flung employees to get together on projects.

‘Holy moly!’: Inside Texas’ fight against a ransomware hack

DALLAS (AP) — The Associated Press has learned new details about a ransomware attack that affected roughly two dozen Texas communities two years ago. Thousands of pages obtained by AP and interviews with people involved show Texas communities struggled for days with disruptions to core government services as workers in small cities and towns endured a cascade of frustrations brought on by the sophisticated cyberattack. The records also reveal new details about the attack’s scope and victims, including an Air Force base where access to a law enforcement database was knocked out and a city was forced to operate its water-supply system manually.

Sales of new homes fall 6.6% in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes fell for a third straight month in June, dropping by 6.6%. to the lowest level in more than a year. The Commerce Department reported Monday that the June sales decline left sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000. That followed a 7.7% sales decline in May and a 10.1% fall in April. The June sales pace was down 19.4% from a year ago and was the slowest pace since April 2020. Housing has been a stand-out performer since the economy began emerging from the steep but short pandemic recession in April last year.

Stocks shake off a wobbly start and finish slightly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off a wobbly start and finished slightly higher on Wall Street, edging major indexes a bit further into record territory. The S&P 500 managed a gain of 0.2% Monday, as did the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Strength in communications and energy companies outweighed weakness in other sectors. Investors are still monitoring a steady flow of corporate earnings and will be on the lookout for clues from the Federal Reserve about when it might start winding down its extraordinary support measures for the economy. The Fed releases its latest policy statement on Wednesday. Bitcoin rose to $37,500.

Tesla reaches milestone with first $1B quarterly profit

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Tesla’s quarterly profit has surpassed $1 billion for the first time. The results come as the electric car pioneer navigated through a pandemic-driven computer chip shortage that has caused major headaches for other automakers. The financial milestone announced Monday extended a two-year run of prosperity that has erased questions about Tesla’s long-term viability raised during its early years of losses and production problems. Tesla posted a $1.1 billion profit for the April-June period while producing more than 200,000 cars for the first time. But Tesla cautioned its recent momentum could be slowed by a persisting shortage of chips that have become vital parts in modern cars.

Inflation fears and politics shape views of Biden economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 54% of Americans judge the economy to be in poor shape. That’s compared with 45% who say conditions are good. The results point to the risks of inflation to President Joe Biden’s agenda. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and the strong gains in jobs have not swayed public opinion much. The results suggest that inflation worries many Americans who filter their thoughts about the economy through their politics. About 6 in 10 Democrats call the economy good, while three-quarters of Republicans say conditions are poor.

Warming rivers in US West killing fish, imperiling industry

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Baby salmon are dying by the thousands in one California river and an entire run of endangered salmon could be wiped out in another. Fishermen who make their living off adult salmon, once they enter the Pacific Ocean, are sounding the alarm as blistering heat waves and extended drought in the U.S. West raise water temperatures and imperil fish from Idaho to California. A crash in one year’s class of young salmon can have lasting effects on the total population and shorten or stop the fishing season. That could be devastating to the commercial salmon fishing industry, which in California alone is worth $1.4 billion. Fishermen say the high cost of salmon is already pricing some customers out.

The S&P 500 rose 10.51 points, or 0.2%, to 4,422.30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 82.76 points, or 0.2%, to 35,144.31. The Nasdaq added 3.72 points, or less than 0.1%, to 14,840.71. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 7.27 points, or 0.3%, to 2,216.92.

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