Government shutdown poses increasing risk to wider economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — As the government shutdown enters a second month, economists say it could pose a threat to the wider economy. The biggest effect is likely to be the cutback in federal spending. But consumer spending is another important factor. When government employees spend less, stores and restaurants that serve them suffer. So do landlords and lenders that do business with federal workers. Most of the restaurant meals missed and hotel stays canceled will never be made up.
Analysis: Falling home sales not helping middle-class buyers
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the past year, the availability of homes that a middle-class family could buy has declined in 86 percent of the largest metro areas, according to an analysis of 49 cities being released Wednesday by the real estate brokerage Redfin and provided in advance to The Associated Press.
At Davos, battle lines are drawn over trade and cooperation
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — World leaders in favor of international cooperation and free trade are trying to strike back at the wave of populist nationalism that has featured prominently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Heads of state are taking turns to address the political and business tycoons, and the question of global cooperation has become a key dividing line. The leaders of Japan and Germany came out strongly in favor of working together.
Pelosi works her health care strategy from the ground up
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is laying out her strategy on health care and first up is improvements to “Obamacare” and legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Hearings on “Medicare for all” will follow. Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been sounding similar themes about the need to address high drug costs. Democrats believe voters gave them a mandate on health care in the midterm elections that returned the House to their control.
Organic price premiums dip as demand grows, choices multiply
DETROIT (AP) — U.S. shoppers are still paying more for organic food, but the price premium is falling as organic options multiply. Last year, organic food and beverages cost an average of 7.5 percent more than conventional food, according to Nielsen.
Drone sighting over New Jersey raises concern for aviation
Drone sightings reported by airline pilots over New Jersey renew questions about how to accommodate the popular devices into the nation’s airspace. The ability of drones to interfere with aviation is likely to get worse as the number of machines multiplies. Many store-bought drones come with technology to prevent owners from flying them near airports, but there are hacks, and home-built machines don’t necessarily include those protections.
US stocks waver as signs of future profit growth wobble
NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes meandered and finished slightly higher after IBM and Procter & Gamble report impressive results, but oil prices slip for the third time in four days. Corporate profits are still rising, but investors are concerned about the effects of trade uncertainty, weakening economic growth and the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. Stocks had taken sharp losses a day earlier.
Businesses sound alarm as UK says prepare for no-deal Brexit
LONDON (AP) — A senior British Cabinet minister says businesses need to prepare for the possibility the U.K. will leave the European Union in March without an exit deal, as a growing number of British firms say they are stockpiling goods or shifting operations overseas. Last week British lawmakers threw out Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal, and attempts to find a replacement are gridlocked.
Ford posts quarterly loss amid struggles in Europe, China
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has reported its first quarterly loss in two years due to a pension accounting charge and poor performances in Europe and China. The Dearborn, Michigan, company lost $116 million in the fourth quarter compared with a $2.5 billion profit in the same period a year earlier. The loss included an $877 million charge to revalue pension assets due a late-year market slide.
Forgoing staffers, many businesses turn to freelancers
NEW YORK (AP) — Many small business owners use independent contractors rather than employees, even transitioning their employees into freelancers. In a tight job market, it can be easier to find independents rather than full-timers. Owners can also save on overhead, hiring only when they need help, and they don’t have costs like employment taxes and insurance. But the government has rules about freelancers, contending some owners misclassify employees and call them independents to avoid paying the extra costs.
The S&P 500 added 5.80 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,638.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 171.14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,575.62. The Nasdaq composite edged up 5.41 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,025.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 3.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,454.26.
U.S. crude oil lost 0.7 percent to $52.62 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.6 percent to $61.14 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline slipped 1.1 percent to $1.39 a gallon and heating oil fell 0.7 percent to $1.89 a gallon. Natural gas shed 2 percent to $2.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.