AP Business SummaryBrief at 8:49 p.m. EDT | Business News

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Tentative labor deal averts threat of nationwide rail strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rail companies and their workers reached a tentative agreement to avert a nationwide strike that could have shut down the nation’s freight trains and devastated the economy less than two months before the midterm elections. President Joe Biden announced the deal Thursday. It emerged from a marathon 20-hour negotiating session at the Labor Department and came just one day before the threatened walkout. The deal includes a 24% pay raise and relaxes strict railroad attendance policies. It will go to union members for a vote after a cooling-off period of several weeks.

Retail sales up 0.3% in Aug. from July amid inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans picked up their spending a bit in August from July even as surging inflation on household necessities like rent and food take a toll on household budgets. The U.S. retail sales rose an unexpected 0.3% last month, from being down 0.4% in July,  the Commerce Department said Thursday. Excluding business at gas stations, sales rose 0.8%.Sales at grocery stores rose 0.5% , helped by rising prices in food. Business at restaurants rose 1.1%, while online sales fell 0.7%.  Business at clothing stores rose 0.4% while sales at furniture stores fell 1.3%.

Amtrak works to restore routes after rail labor accord

Amtrak says it is working to quickly restore canceled trains after President Joe Biden announced that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached. Amtrak said Thursday that it is reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures. Amtrak had canceled a number of its long-distance trains this week as a potential strike loomed. A strike would have disrupted passenger traffic as well as freight rail lines, because Amtrak and many commuter railroads operate on tracks owned by the freight railroads.

Commuters dodge headaches as freight-rail strike averted

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Joe Biden says a deal has been reached to avert a looming freight rail strike that could have disrupted numerous commuter rail services across the country. Commuter rail services in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere would have been forced into full or partial shutdowns if there was a strike because they use tracks owned by the freight railroads. Big commuter rail systems in the New York metro area would have been unaffected.

Stocks fall, indexes slip deeper into the red for the week

Stocks closed lower on Wall Street, putting major indexes deeper into the red for the week. The S&P 500 fell 1.1% on Thursday. The benchmark index is down for the week following the biggest pullback for the market in more than two years on Tuesday. Railroad operators were mostly higher after a tentative labor agreement was reached, averting a strike across the country that could have been devastating to the economy. Software maker Adobe fell sharply after announcing a $20 billion acquisition of a design company and issuing a disappointing revenue forecast for the current quarter.

Biden, Dems see both political, economic wins in rail deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is hailing a labor agreement that avoided a strike that would have shut down railroads across the country as a win for America. It’s also a win for him politically, allowing Democrats to sidestep what could have been an economic debacle before November’s midterm elections. Pressured to choose between labor and business, Biden lobbied them to work together. By keeping the trains running, Biden overcame a major economic threat that doubled as a political risk. His fellow Democrats face an uphill climb to maintain their narrow hold on power in Congress amid soaring inflation and as Biden’s approval rating is improving, but still remains underwater.

Mortgage rates hit 6%, first time since 2008 housing crash

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates climbed over 6% this week for the first time since the housing crash of 2008, threatening to sideline even more homebuyers from a rapidly cooling housing market. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year rate rose to 6.02% from 5.89% last week. The long-term average rate has more than doubled since a year ago and is the highest it’s been since November of 2008, just after the housing market collapse triggered the Great Recession. Most economists forecast that the Federal Reserve will jack up its primary lending rate another three-quarters of a point when it meets next week.

EXPLAINER: Ethereum is ditching its ‘miners.’ Why?

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A major software change to the cryptocurrency ethereum holds the potential to dramatically reduce its energy consumption and resulting climate effects. Ethereum — the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency after bitcoin — has effectively eliminated the energy-intensive task of “mining” new coins on the ethereum blockchain. Mining requires enormous computing power, which translates to huge energy consumption and, in many areas, greater greenhouse gas emissions. By itself, however, the ethereum change won’t eliminate crypto’s expected environmental impact. Backers of bitcoin, for instance, have shown little interest in doing away with mining, fearing that the alternative could open the door to government regulation and control.

EXPLAINER: What to know about ‘buy now, pay later’

NEW YORK (AP) — If you shop online for clothes or furniture, sneakers or concert tickets, you’ve seen the option at checkout to “buy now, pay later” by breaking the cost into smaller installments over time. Companies like Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, and Paypal all offer the service, with Apple due to enter the market later this year. Since the start of the pandemic, the option has skyrocketed in popularity, especially among younger and lower-income consumers who may not have ready access to traditional credit. But with economic instability rising, so are delinquencies. Here’s what you should know.

FedEx to close stores, put off hiring as demand slumps

FedEx is shuttering storefronts and corporate offices while putting off new hires in a belt-tightening drive brought on by drop-off in its global package delivery business. The company based in Memphis, Tennessee, warned it will likely miss Wall Street’s profit target for its fiscal first quarter that ended Aug. 31. And it said it expects business conditions to further weaken in the current quarter amid weaker global volume. In response, it will cut costs by closing over 90 FedEx Office locations and five corporate offices, deferring new hires and operating fewer flights. Its stock fell more than 16% in after-hours trading following the announcement.

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