Dow Today – Business Highlights: High inflation, low budget deficit
Inflation at 40-year high pressures consumers, Fed and Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation jumped at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month, a 7% spike from a year earlier that is increasing household expenses, eating into wage gains and heaping pressure on President Joe Biden and the Federal Reserve to address what has become the biggest threat to the U.S. economy. Prices rose sharply in 2021 for cars, gas, food and furniture as part of a rapid recovery from the pandemic recession. price gains could slow further as snags in supply chains ease, but most economists say inflation won’t fall back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.
US posted smallest monthly deficit in 2 years in December
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government last month posted its smallest monthly budget deficit in two years. That was thanks to a rebounding economy that helped boost tax receipts, coupled with slower spending as some COVID relief programs ended. The Treasury Department reported that the December deficit of $21.3 billion was the smallest monthly deficit since a $13 billion shortfall in December 2019. That was before the COVID pandemic hit in the U.S. and pushed millions of people out of work, sending the economy into a short but steep recession. For the first three months of this budget year the government has recorded a deficit of $377.7 billion, 30.1% below the same period a year ago.
Fed survey finds economy growing modestly despite COVID
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says the economy was growing at a modest pace at the end of 2021 but was still being held back by ongoing supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages. In its latest survey of business conditions around the country, the Fed said its 12 regional banks found that the economy was continuing to grow. But many districts reported a sudden pullback in spending on leisure travel, hotels and restaurants because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Fed survey, known as the beige book, will form the basis for discussions when the central bank holds its next meeting on Jan. 25-26.
Stocks rise as inflation report keeps rate hikes on track
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Wednesday after the latest report of surging prices appeared to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this year. The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%. Technology stocks led the market higher. Inflation jumped 7% last month, its fastest year-over-year pace in nearly four decades, but in line with economists’ forecasts. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Congress Tuesday the Fed stands ready to raise rates to fight inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 1.73%.
US shoppers find some groceries scarce due to virus, weather
NEW YORK (AP) — Shortages at U.S. grocery stores have grown more acute in recent weeks. New problems like the fast-spreading omicron variant and severe weather are piling on to the supply chain struggles and labor shortages that have plagued retailers since the coronavirus pandemic began. The shortages are widespread, impacting produce and meat as well as packaged goods like cereal. And they’re being reported nationwide. U.S. groceries typically have 5% to 10% of their items out of stock at any given time. According to the Consumer Brands Association, the unavailability rate is hovering around 15%. Experts are divided on how long grocery shopping will sometimes feel like a scavenger hunt.
Biogen tumbles after Medicare lays out Aduhelm coverage plan
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Biogen tumbled Wednesday, a day after regulators slapped strict limitations on coverage the drugmaker’s new Alzheimer’s disease treatment. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday that patients taking Biogen’s Aduhelm will have to participate in clinical trials to assess the drug’s effectiveness in order for Medicare to cover the cost. That’s an important caveat because Medicare is expected to cover most of the patients who opt for Aduhelm, and the drug can cost as much as $28,000 annually, not counting expenses for brain scans and other care patients will need while taking it.
Interior to hold auction for offshore wind power in NY, NJ
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Biden administration says it will hold its first offshore wind auction next month. It’s offering nearly 500,000 acres off the coast of New York and New Jersey for wind energy projects that could produce enough electricity to power nearly 2 million homes. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the Feb. 23 auction in the New York Bight region will allow offshore wind developers to bid on six lease areas, the most ever offered in an auction for offshore wind. The auction comes as the administration announced Wednesday a flurry of clean energy actions, including steps to speed up reviews of solar, onshore wind and geothermal energy projects.
Mexico: Citibank sale poses ‘delicate’ antimonopoly issues
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities say they are going to keep a close eye on Citigroup’s proposed sale of its Mexico subsidary, Citibanamex, noting the transaction poses “delicate” regulatory issues. Citibanamex is Mexico’s third-largest bank and regulators are apparently concerned that whoever acquires it could accumulate too big a share of the banking market. The country’s Treasury Department said Wednesday “the exit of such a large retail bank … poses delicate questions for finance and regulatory authorities … including the fundamental issue of market concentration.” Citigroup announced Tuesday it would sell off or list its retail banking operations in Mexico, as part of a worldwide strategy.
The S&P 500 gained 13.28 points, or 0.3%, to 4,726.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.30 points, or 0.1%, to 36,290.32. The Nasdaq added 34.94 points, or 0.2%, to 15,188.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 17.95 points, or 0.8%, to 2,176.06.