Monday, May 27, 2024

Business Briefs: Retail sales surge 0.7% in March as Americans seem unfazed by higher prices with jobs plentiful

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans increased their spending pace in March at a better-than-expected pace from the previous month, underscoring how shoppers remain resilient despite inflationary pressures and other economic challenges. Retail sales rose 0.7% last month after being up a revised 0.9% in February, according to the Commerce Department’s report on Monday. Sales fell a revised 1.1% in January, dragged down in part by inclement weather. Excluding gas prices, which have been rising, retail sales were still up a solid at 0.6%. The snapshot offers only a partial look at consumer spendirng and doesn’t include many services, including travel and hotel lodges. But the lone services category – restaurants – registered an uptick of 0.4%.

It’s Tax Day. And your refund may be big this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — On this Tax Day, refunds are looking a bit bigger for taxpayers. According to the latest IRS statistics, the average refund this season has been $3,011, up $123 compared to last year. Two out of three taxpayers expect to receive a refund. The IRS is promoting customer service improvements the agency rolled out since receiving tens of billions in new funding dollars through Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. The promotion also in part is meant to quickly normalize a more efficient and effective IRS before congressional Republicans threaten another round of cuts to the agency.

Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern: The presidential candidates have conflicting ideas about how much to reveal about their own finances and the best ways to boost the economy through tax policy. Biden, the sitting Democratic president, plans to release his tax records on Monday, which is the IRS deadline for filing. And on Tuesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech in about why the wealthy should pay more. Trump, the former Republican president, says the public has no need to see his tax data. He maintains that keeping taxes low for the wealthy will supercharge investment and lead to more jobs.

With ‘functional’ beverages, brands rush to quench a thirst for drinks that do more than taste good

The global market has exploded for drinks that promise to do more than just taste good. So much so that grocery store beverage aisles are starting to look more like pharmacies. There are sodas made with mushrooms that supposedly improve mental clarity and juices packed with bacteria that claim to enhance digestive health. Water infused with collagen carries the promise of better skin, and energy drinks offer to help burn body fat. Welcome to the frenzy of functional beverages. What started in the late 1980s with caffeine- and vitamin-laced energy drinks like Red Bull has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Hundreds of brands are vying for consumers’ attention with increasingly exotic ingredients and wellness-focused marketing.

What does science say about the ingredients in functional beverages?

Drinks promoted as offering mental or physical benefits beyond hydration are growing in popularity around the world. Hundreds of companies have jumped into the so-called functional beverages market, hoping to get some buzz with trendy and sometimes unfamiliar ingredients. Adaptogens are one of the latest categories. They are plants and mushrooms that may help your body respond to stress, anxiety and fatigue or enhance feelings of well-being. Examples include ginseng, ashwagandha and chaga. But what does the science say? The Cleveland Clinic says adaptogens are known to trigger chemical reactions that can return the body to a more balanced state. Studies show the body can build a resistance to them.

AP Source: General Motors and Bedrock real estate plan to redevelop GM Detroit headquarters towers

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors and real estate firm Bedrock will jointly study how to redevelop the automaker’s huge headquarters tower complex in downtown Detroit, a person briefed on the plans said. GM CEO Mary Barra and Bedrock Chairman Dan Gilbert plan to hold a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss the plan involving the Renaissance Center, the person said. The deal does not involve sale of the complex, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been formally announced. The Renaissance Center is the icon of the city’s skyline and is shown often on sports television broadcasts. Gilbert’s company has been buying up properties downtown for many years.

Germany’s Scholz calls for fair competition and warns against dumping during China visit

BEIJING (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for fair competition in trade relations with China while warning about dumping and overproduction while speaking to students in Shanghai on Monday. Scholz is visiting China against the background of possible EU tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles and other trade-related tensions. The two countries are also split over how to handle Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

AI-generated models could bring more diversity to the fashion industry — or leave it with less

CHICAGO (AP) — AI fashion modeling is on the rise but its use has complicated implications for diversity. AI models significantly reduce a company’s labor costs. And AI modeling agencies can render fashion models of all races, genders and sizes with the click of a finger. But while online shoppers may see themselves better represented, consumer transparency and trust could be at risk since it’s up to companies to be transparent and ethical about deploying the technology. Real-life models of color, who have historically faced higher barriers to entry, may also be put out of work.

Stock market today: Wall Street rises to recover some of last week’s loss as oil prices ease

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are ticking higher, and oil prices are easing with hopes that international efforts to calm escalating tensions in the Middle East may help. The latest strong report on the U.S. economy also helped the S&P 500 rise 0.4% Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 170 points, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 0.2%. Goldman Sachs helped push financial stocks to some of the market’s biggest gains after reporting stronger profit than analysts expected. The pressure is on companies broadly to deliver fatter profits because the other lever that sets stock prices, interest rates, looks less likely to offer support in the near term.

Here’s how to reduce stress and get your taxes done

NEW YORK (AP) — For many people, tax season isn’t only about gathering W-2 forms or calling an accountant. It can also bring intense feelings of stress or anxiety about dealing with finances. Financial stress during tax season can manifest in different ways, whether that’s procrastinating on your tax return until the last minute or experiencing intense stress about filing incorrectly. If you’re dealing with financial stress right now, you’re not alone. Experts recommend that you make a plan to tackle your return step by step, ask for support from family and friends or a tax professional, and focus on self care if you’re experiencing financial stress.

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