Stocks decline late in the session; Charlotte Gets Credit Karma Headquarters |
Stocks give up early gain, end lower
NEW YORK – Wall Street closed a sluggish trading day on May 25 with a slight pullback in major US equity indices, giving back some of the market’s gains after a strong start to the week.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% after spending much of the day swinging between small gains and losses. Stocks in finance, energy and health care were responsible for much of the decline. Technology and communications stocks posted gains, as did large retailers, cruise lines and other businesses that rely on consumer spending.
Home builders were among the biggest winners following a report that showed US home prices climbed the most in March in more than seven years as a growing number of potential buyers are fighting over a declining supply of houses.
Investors continue to weigh the progress of the economic recovery against lingering concerns about inflation.
“Sure, they’re still high, but inflation fears seem to have subsided a bit here,” said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer at Northern Trust Wealth Management.
NC grabs E. Coast HQ for Credit Karma
CHARLOTTE – Personal finance tech company Credit Karma will create 600 new jobs in North Carolina’s largest city by relocating its East Coast headquarters to Charlotte, the company said on May 25.
Credit Karma, which is best known for offering free credit scores, already has an employment presence in Charlotte. He now plans to invest more than $ 13 million to establish an engineering center there, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said.
Salaries for the new positions, which include analysts, software engineers and management, will average $ 156,600 per year, more than double the average Mecklenburg County salary, the statement said.
The San Francisco-based company, which also offers banking services, identity theft protection, and loan and credit card assistance, currently employs nearly 200 workers in Queen City, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The company has looked at a dozen domains for its next headquarters, CEO Kenneth Lin said. He said the talent pool in Charlotte is “second to none” because so many financial companies are concentrated there.
City Councilor Tariq Bokhari, executive director of the Carolina Fintech Hub, said Charlotte now has more than 60 fintech companies.
Consumers felt less optimistic in May
SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Consumer confidence fell slightly in May, but remains almost as high as it has been since the start of the pandemic.
The Conference Board reported on Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 117.2 from 117.5 in April, the highest level since February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic.
The current situation index, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, fell from 131.9 to 144.3. Although the percentage of consumers surveyed saying business conditions are “good” decreased slightly from 19.4% to 18.7%, those who said business conditions are “bad” decreased further from 24.5% in April to 21.8% in May.
Consumers’ assessment of the labor market has also improved as the percentage of consumers reporting that jobs are “abundant” increased from 36.3% to 46.8%. Those who say jobs are hard to get fell from 14.7% to 12.2%. Unemployment claims have fallen to pandemic low every week for the past month.
The Conference Board’s expectations index, based on consumers’ short-term views on income, business and the labor market, fell to 99.1 in May, from 107.9 in April.
United States lowers Mexico’s aviation safety rating
WASHINGTON – U.S. regulators have lowered Mexico’s airline safety rating, a move that prevents Mexican airlines from expanding flights to the United States just as travel is recovering from the pandemic.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on May 25 it downgraded Mexico after finding the country did not meet standards set by a United Nations aviation group.
The downgrade means that U.S. airlines will not be able to sell tickets on flights operated by Mexican airlines, a setback that will primarily hit Delta Air Lines, which has a partnership with Aeromexico.
Delta said its own service to Mexico was not affected by the downgrade and that it would continue to operate all of its flights there normally. However, Delta may need to issue new tickets to customers who have used Delta to book a flight operated by Aeromexico.
The FAA has said it will increase screening of Mexican flights to the United States, but the downgrade will not immediately affect current flights.
The FAA’s decision to lower Mexico from “Category 1” to “Category 2” places it in a group of countries that includes Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.
GM supports union on new battery sites
DETROIT – General Motors now says it will support the United Auto Workers union’s efforts to organize workers at two U.S. electric vehicle battery factories it is building in Ohio and Tennessee with a joint venture partner.
The company’s statement on Tuesday departs from GM’s past position that the joint venture called Ultium LLC would decide on a negotiating strategy.
But it does match President Joe Biden’s promise to create well-paying union jobs as they transition from combustion vehicles to electric vehicles. It also comes after the UAW made strong public statements that GM and rival Ford Crosstown have a moral obligation to pay the highest union wages at the joint venture’s battery factories.
German GDP collapses but optimism on the rise
BERLIN – The German economy contracted more than expected in the first quarter amid coronavirus lockdown measures, according to statistics released on Tuesday, but a leading indicator showed that business optimism is increasing as the pace of vaccinations increases.
The Federal Statistical Office said first-quarter gross domestic product in Germany, Europe’s largest economy and one of South Carolina’s largest trading partners, fell 1.8% in fourth quarter of 2020, based on figures corrected for prices, seasonal and calendar factors. The bureau’s preliminary estimate had been a drop of 1.7 percent.
GDP was down 3.4% from the same quarter last year, when the pandemic was just starting to set in, according to the adjusted price figures, and 3.1% after adjusting for factors price and schedule.
According to the closely watched monthly survey by the Ifo Institute in Munich, sentiment among German managers has improved considerably. The agency’s business climate index rose to 99.2 points in May from 96.6 points in April, its highest value since May 2019.
“The finally accelerated roll-out of vaccination, as well as the first steps in reopening the economy, clearly stimulated optimism,” said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.