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Update on the latest in business:

April 1, 2019


Markets Right Now: Stocks move broadly higher on Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been broadly higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading, continuing the market’s upward momentum as it comes off its best quarter in nearly a decade.

Technology companies and banks led the gains. Intel rose 1.2% in early trading and JPMorgan Chase added 1.1%.

ComScore plunged 19% after the media analytics firms lost two top executives.


Wall Street begins dumping shares of Lyft

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Lyft are tumbling in its first full day of trading as a public company.

Shares fell 10 percent Monday, hitting levels below its initial offering price of $72 on Friday. Shares had reached $88.60, up 21 percent, before giving ground by the end of the day.

The ride-hailing company has consistently lost money, raising doubts about its overall valuation. Even so, some investors were wowed by the company’s growth in the past two years.


US retail sales declined 0.2 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales fell in February, as consumers pulled back their spending on building materials, groceries, furniture, electronics and clothing declined amid signs of a slowing economy.

The Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales fell 0.2 percent in February, after posting an upwardly revised gain 0.7 percent in January. Over the past year, retail sales have roughly kept pace with inflation by increasing a slight 2.2 percent.

The recent dip in consumer spending suggests that more Americans are anticipating a weaker economy this year, as global growth has declined and the stimulus from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts at the end of 2017 are waning.

Sales at building materials stores plunged 4.4 percent in February. Electronics retailers and grocers posted declines of more than 1 percent.


Survey: US manufacturing activity increased in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers grew at a faster pace in March, as the pace of employment jumped and new orders and production improved.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, says that its manufacturing index rose to 55.3 last month, up from 54.2 in February. Readings above 50 point toward an expansion in manufacturing. The sector has been reporting growth for 31 months.

ISM’s survey of companies for the index is a sign that economic growth should continue, even though the global economy, steel tariffs and the trade battle between the United States and China have been sources of concern.


US construction spending up strong 1 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending rose a solid 1 percent in February, led by a strong gain in spending on government projects, which hit an all-time high.

The Commerce Department says the February increase followed an even larger 2.5 percent gain in January and a slight 0.2 percent rise in December. The gains pushed total construction to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.32 trillion, the highest level since May.

Residential construction was up 0.7 percent. Government construction jumped 3.8 percent to $303 billion, the highest level on record.

Weakness in home building has been a drag on overall growth, but analysts believe housing construction should rebound this year, helped by lower mortgage rates following the signal by the Federal Reserve that it plans to hold rates steady this year.


Kellogg selling Keebler and other brands for $1.3 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Kellogg is selling its iconic Keebler cookie brand and other sweet snacks businesses to Ferrero for $1.3 billion.

The Battle Creek, Michigan-based Kellogg Co. says the brands in the deal generated sales of $900 million and profits of $75 million last year. Kellogg is also selling its Mother’s and Famous Amos cookie brands, as well as its fruit-flavored snack, pie crust and ice cream cone businesses.

Ferrero, an Italian confectionary company best known for its Nutella hazelnut cream, said Monday it will also acquire six U.S. manufacturing plants from Kellogg in the deal.

Kellogg is among many U.S. food companies that have sold off brands in recent years to adapt to a consumer shift toward more fresh, less processed snacks and foods.


Technical outage causes flight delays for airlines

NEW YORK (AP) — A technical glitch at an outside aviation company has led to delays at major U.S. airlines.

The issue was resolved quickly, but it led to travel disruptions today. Delays that began appearing first in Chicago, New York, Miami and Boston spread to Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

The Federal Aviation Administration said several airlines had problems with a program called Aerodata, which is used to plan weight and balance for flights. The FAA said the issue was resolved.

By midday, 3,400 U.S. flights had been delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware, but it was unclear how many were related to the technical issue.


US safety agency opens probes into Hyundai and Kia fires

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has decided to open two new investigations into fires involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after getting complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it granted a petition seeking the investigations from the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group.

The investigations would look into Hyundai and Kia separately and cover non-crash fires in almost 3 million vehicles from the affiliated Korean automakers, including the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe and the Kia Optima, Sorento and Soul. The complaints came from consumers and from data provided by both automakers.

The agency had previously said it would incorporate the noncrash fires into an investigation it had already started on Hyundai and Kia engine failures.


North Carolina orders Duke Energy to excavate all coal ash

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The country’s largest electric company is being ordered to excavate coal ash from all of its North Carolina power plant sites, slashing the risk of toxic chemicals leaking into water supplies but potentially adding billions of dollars to power bills.

North Carolina’s environmental agency said Monday it has decided Duke Energy Corp. must remove the residue left after decades of burning coal from six remaining sites.

The company had wanted to cover some storage pits with a waterproof cap, saying that would prevent rain from passing through the pits and carrying chemicals like mercury and arsenic through the unlined bottoms.

Cleanup became a priority after a 2014 leak from a Duke Energy site left coal ash coating 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River on the North Carolina-Virginia border.


States renew push for taxes on sugary drinks

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s new governor is pushing for a statewide tax on sugary drinks, nearly three decades after the last U.S. state imposed one.

But Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is bracing for a fight, predicting industry lobbying will be “ferocious.”

Taxes on soda and other sugary drinks have taken effect in recent years in a handful of cities. But lobbying from the beverage industry and its allies has been credited with helping to block statewide proposals that usually pop up annually in state legislatures.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says four states — Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia — have excise taxes on sugar-added beverages. But the most recent is 1992.

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association called for soda taxes in an effort to reduce consumption.