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Update on the latest in business:

May 21, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stock rise, led by rebound in tech shares

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks are higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street as technology companies lead solid gains across the market. Chipmakers rallied after the U.S. government issued a 90-day grace period on its order to restrict U.S. firms from selling to Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei (WAH’-way). Micron Technology rose 3.4%. Apple rose 2.3% and Boeing gained 1.2% to boost the Dow.

Kohl’s and J.C. Penney fell sharply after quarterly results from the department store operators disappointed investors.

Losses are widening at J.C. Penney and sales are falling after the retailer shed its furniture and major appliance businesses. Same store sales tumbled 5.5% and shares fell by about as much. Kohl’s sank 11% after cutting its outlook for fiscal 2020.

Utilities and consumer staples lagged the market as investors shifted to riskier holdings.

EARNS-HOME DEPOT

Home Depot posts strong profit, revenue

ATLANTA (AP) — Home Depot is reporting better than expected profit and revenue for the first quarter, though bad weather early in the year and an extra week in the previous fiscal year dampened the home improvement retailer’s comparable store sales. Those sales, which are watched closely by industry analysts, rose 2.5%, short of the 4.2% increase they were expecting, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

The Home Depot Inc. reported quarterly profit of $2.51 billion, or $2.27. That’s better than the per share earnings of $2.16 that Wall Street had projected, according to Zacks.

Revenue, at $26.38 billion, also edged out expectations.

HOME SALES

US home sales fell 0.4% in April amid limited supply

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Home sales slipped 0.4% in April, as would-be homebuyers face affordability challenges and a limited supply of starter houses. The National Association of Realtors says that existing homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million last month, down from 5.21 million in March. Despite the solid job market and lower mortgage rates, sales have tumbled 4.4% from a year ago.

The sales decline is entirely concentrated in homes worth less than $250,000, a likely reflection of a shortage of properties at those price points being listed for sale. But homes are still selling at a brisk pace. The average property sold in just 24 days, the fastest pace ever recorded by NAR. The median sales price in January was $267,300, up 3.6% from last year.

GENERAL MOTORS-CAR SHARING

GM Maven car-sharing stops serving 8 N. American markets

DETROIT (AP) —General Motors is retreating from eight of the 17 North American markets where it had started a car-sharing service called Maven. The company wouldn’t say where it will keep the business, but it confirmed that it’s pulling out of New York and Chicago. GM said in a prepared statement that it’s not scrapping Maven, but rather concentrating on markets where it has the strongest demand and growth potential.

Maven, begun in 2016, allowed people to rent GM vehicles for short periods with an app. GM vehicles were strategically placed in in metro areas including Denver, Los Angeles, Baltimore, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Toronto and others.

It expanded to leases for ride-sharing drivers and added an app-based service that let owners share vehicles with others.

VATICAN-FINANCIAL REFORM

Vatican financial watchdog boasts steady progress on reform

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The Vatican’s financial watchdog says that after nearly 10 years of reforms, the Holy See has a “fully functioning” system of financial regulation and intelligence that is increasingly integrated into the global financial system.

The Financial Information Authority reported that it forwarded 11 suspicious transaction reports to Vatican prosecutors for further investigation, on top of the ongoing trial of a former Vatican bank chief on embezzlement charges.

And, it reported 473 cases of exchanges of information with foreign intelligence units, a sign of greater international cooperation in fighting money-laundering, terror financing, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

MEDICARE FOR ALL

‘Medicare for All’s’ rich benefits ‘leapfrog’ other nations

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The “Medicare for All” plan embraced by leading 2020 Democrats appears more generous than what’s offered in other advanced countries. The plan by Sen. Bernie Sanders would charge no copays or deductibles for medical care, allowing only limited cost-sharing for certain prescription drugs.

While the concept has attracted some presidential hopefuls, the candidates are divided. Some have echoed Sanders’ call, while others want to expand coverage within the current mix of private and government insurance.

Independent studies estimate Medicare for All would dramatically increase government spending, from $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over 10 years. Currently, it stands no chance with Republicans controlling the White House and the Senate, but there are hearings on the topic in the Democratic-led House.

AMERICAN AIRLINES-SPORTING GEAR

American Airlines cuts bag fees for some sports, music gear

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines says it’s cutting the cost of checking oversized sporting gear and musical instruments on flights. American said Tuesday that it eliminated the extra oversize charge for those items and instead will charge regular bag fees, which are lower.

Before Tuesday, a passenger who checked a big item like a surfboard or snowboard on a domestic flight would pay $150.

The airline says that will now cost $30, the fee for checking one bag. Travelers will still be charged $150 for some items including antlers and scuba tanks, and extra fees also apply to gear weighing more than 50 pounds.

American says they are tweaking fees after hearing from customers and employees.

NEW COKE-STRANGER THINGS

New Coke, from 1985, makes comeback with ‘Stranger Things’

NEW YORK (AP) _ New Coke is making a comeback as part of Coca-Cola’s partnership with the Netflix drama “Stranger Things.” Season 3 of “Stranger Things” will be set in the summer of 1985. Why? Well, New Coke was considered one of the biggest marketing mistakes when it was launched in 1985 and it was dropped after 79 days. Coca-Cola will release a limited number of New Coke cans Thursday as part of a “Stranger Things” package.

The company had to retrieve the New Coke recipe from its safe. Workers also had to recreate the logo and the slightly different Coke red for the cans from more than three decades ago.

BREXIT

Seeking Brexit support, May offers vote on new referendum

LONDON (AP) _ British Prime Minister Theresa May says Parliament will get the chance to vote on whether to hold a new referendum on Britain’s EU membership, as she tries to get lawmakers to back her divorce deal with the European Union, a deal that lawmakers have already rejected three times. May says an EU withdrawal agreement bill that she plans to bring to Parliament next month will include a provision for a vote on whether to hold a new public poll on whether to leave.

The Brexit referendum will only happen if Parliament backs the EU withdrawal bill and it becomes law, something that still seems unlikely to happen.

May says she will try again the week of June 3 by asking lawmakers to vote on a withdrawal agreement bill implementing the departure terms.

She has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers’ rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

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