Business Highlights

April 18, 2018


Road to homeownership gets rockier this spring as rates rise

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Higher mortgage rates are making the already challenging task of buying an affordable home even tougher for many Americans this spring. In metro areas such as Denver, buyers are rushing to close a deal before mortgage rates get too high. In Dallas, some are embracing longer commutes to find homes they can afford. And in places such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, where the number of homes for sale is down sharply from a year ago, sellers routinely receive multiple offers.


US manufacturers seek relief from steel and aluminum tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminum and steel are disrupting business for hundreds of American companies that buy those metals, and many are pressing for relief. A group of small- and medium-size manufacturers gathered in Washington to announce a new coalition to fight the steel tariff.


Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs, a “win-win”

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has cut a deal to sell voice-controlled TVs at Best Buy, the latest attempt by the online retailer to get its burgeoning suite of tech products out where people can see and touch them. Best Buy already sells the Amazon Kindle and other gadgets, but the deal announced Wednesday makes the electronics retailer the only place where you can walk in and buy a TV powered by Amazon’s Fire TV software. Investors seemed to like the partnership: Best Buy’s stock rose 4 percent Wednesday.


Bump stock maker shutting down business

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The maker of bump stock devices like the ones used in the Las Vegas mass shooting last fall is shutting down its business. A message posted on the website of Slide Fire says the company will stop taking orders for its products at midnight on May 20.


GOP’s regulatory fight goes to another level over car loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP-led Senate has voted to block guidance a consumer protection agency issued five years ago to help ensure minority car buyers don’t pay higher interest rates on car loans. Republicans argue that rescinding the guidance is necessary because it amounted to a backdoor attempt to regulate auto dealers by a consumer protection agency that was prohibited from regulating that industry. Democrats say that rolling back the guidance would hurt many consumers.


Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s latest survey of economic conditions around the country finds growing concern among businesses about the adverse impact higher tariffs could have on their firms and the overall economy. The Fed reports that while the economic outlook remains positive, there are worries about a possible trade war.


Tradeoff: No cash but faster lines as restaurants forgo cash

NEW YORK (AP) — A small but growing number of restaurants are cashless, telling customers they can pay by credit or debit cards or smartphones, but not bills or coins. Many companies that forgo currency are what are known as fast casual chains. They have menus and prices more upscale than fast-food chains but aim to get meals like salads and sandwiches prepared and paid for quickly. With most consumers already using cards, most restaurants say few customers get angry when they can’t pay in cash.


Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules

LONDON (AP) — Facebook is introducing more privacy safeguards to users in Europe to comply with new rules meant to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data. The company will begin asking European customers this week for permission to use features like facial recognition and some types of targeted advertising.


American Express 1Q profits rise 31 percent, helped by taxes

NEW YORK (AP) — Credit card giant American Express is reporting that it had the second-highest quarterly profit in its history last quarter, driven by strong customer spending on its namesake credit cards and a much lower tax bill. New York-based American Express earned a profit of $1.63 billion, or $1.86 a share, compared with a profit of $1.25 billion, or $1.36 a share, a year earlier. The results beat analysts’ expectations, who were looking for AmEx to report a profit of $1.70 a share.


Stocks end modestly higher as earnings come in; oil surges

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks finished broadly higher Wednesday, giving the S&P 500 its third gain in as many days. Energy companies rose more than the rest of the market, riding a big gain in crude oil prices. Solid gains in industrial stocks and retailers outweighed losses among food and beverage companies, technology stocks and banks. Investors continued to bid up companies that reported positive earnings or outlooks.


The S&P 500 index rose 2.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,708.64. The Dow slid 38.56 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,748.07. The Nasdaq composite gained 14.14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,295.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 3.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,583.56.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.95, or 2.9 percent, to settle at $68.47 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $1.90, or 2.7 percent, to close at $73.48 per barrel in London. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $2.09 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline picked up 3 cents to $2.07 a gallon. Natural gas was little changed at $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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