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Update on the latest in business:

May 1, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks moving higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street after several big companies reported earnings that were better than analysts were expecting.

Apple jumped 6.7% after the iPhone maker reported results that beat estimates and announced a 5% increase in its dividend.

CVS and Estee Lauder also climbed after reporting earnings that beat forecasts.

Safe-play sectors like utilities fell.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower, after a report on the manufacturing sector came in weaker than analysts anticipated.

FEDERAL RESERVE MEETING

Fed not expected to raise interest rates following two day meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists do not expect the Fed to increase its key interest rates anytime soon as it monitors the health of the U.S. and global economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a news conference this afternoon.

Low rates tend to help stock markets and the economy by making it cheaper to borrow money.

President Donald Trump has called for what no mainstream economist is advocating: interest rate cuts.

ADP EMPLOYMENT

Survey: US businesses added 275K jobs in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies added the most jobs in 9 months in April, a sign that hiring remains strong amid solid economic growth.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses gained 275,000 jobs last month, up from just 151,000 in March. That’s a much higher number than economists forecast for Friday’s government jobs report, when analysts expect the Labor Department to say that 181,000 jobs were added, according to data provider FactSet.

The economy is so far expanding at a solid pace this year, despite fears last winter that the U.S.-China trade war, slower global growth and higher interest rates would tip the economy into recession.

Hiring was driven partly by a big gain in construction, ADP said, which added 49,000 jobs. A category that mostly includes hotels and restaurants gained 53,000.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

US construction spending drops 0.9% as housing takes a hit

WASHINGTON (AP) — In March, spending on U.S. home construction fell to the lowest level in more than two years, and overall U.S. construction spending dropped for the first time in four months.

The Commerce Department says residential construction spending skidded 1.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $500.9 billion, the lowest since December 2016.

CVS-PROFITS

CVS beats all around and ups expectations for the year

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) — CVS Health is reporting a 42% spike in profits during the first quarter and it’s raising its outlook for the year. The drug store chain posted earnings of $1.42 billion and revenue of $61.65 billion.

It upped its full year operating income expectations on Wednesday from a range of $11.7 billion to $12.1 billion, to between $11.8 billion and $12 billion.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-LAWSUIT

Trump seeks ruling upholding judge’s blow to ‘Obamacare’

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Trump administration and several Republican-led states face a midnight Wednesday deadline for filing papers with a federal appeals panel reviewing a lower court ruling that former President Barack Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional.

The administration has switched its stance in the case, telling the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it believes the Affordable Care Act law should be struck down completely. The administration had argued initially that only key parts of the law, such as protection for pre-existing conditions, should be invalidated.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the law in December, ruling in a case filed by Texas and other Republican-led states. The U.S. House and several Democratic-led states appealed.

The case is expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court.

TESLA-SEC

Judge approves Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s agreement with SEC

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk reached with regulators over his tweets. The deal says Musk must get a securities lawyer’s approval before writing or talking on investor calls about a broad range of Tesla-related topics.

Musk will not be held in contempt of court for a tweet that the SEC says violated a previous settlement.

The new agreement says Musk needs approval before writing about Tesla’s financial condition, potential mergers and production or delivery numbers that have not been previously published, among other things.

The problem began last year when Musk tweeted that he had secured the funding to take Tesla private when he actually did not.

COLLEGE GRADS-MIDDLE CLASS

Many college grads feel their grip on middle class loosening

WASHINGTON (AP) — A college degree has long been a ticket to the U.S. middle class.

It typically confers higher pay, stronger job security, greater home ownership and comparatively stable households. Those benefits have long been seen as worth the sacrifices often required, from deferred income to student debt.

Yet college graduates aren’t as likely as they once were to feel they belong to the middle class, according to a collaborative analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and GSS staff.

The survey found that 35% of graduates described themselves as working or lower class, up from just 20% who felt that way in 1983. By contrast, only 64% of college grads say they feel they belong to the middle or upper class.

BLUE APRON-BUCK STOCK

Blue Apron’s stock nears NYSE danger level

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Blue Apron are nearing $1, close to levels that could lead to its delisting by the New York Stock Exchange. The cook-your-own meal kit company said this week that its customer count dropped 30% from this time last year, to 550,000.

It’s cut spending on advertising in a strategy shift, and that’s showing up in customer levels.

If the stock slips below $1 for 30 consecutive days, it could be delisted under NYSE rules.

Shares of Blue are trading for $1.02 Wednesday.