Business Highlights: Stymied homebuyers, wholesale prices
Homebuyers stymied by fewer homes, high prices, rising rates
LOS ANGELES (AP) — America’s housing market has grown increasingly frenzied, and prices are out of reach for many buyers, especially first-timers. This spring, traditionally the busiest season for home sales, is more likely to deliver frustration and disappointment for aspiring homebuyers than it is homeownership. The number of homes for sale nationally remains near record lows, fueling fierce competition among buyers vying for fewer homes. From Los Angeles to Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s typical for homes to sell within days of hitting the market. Bidding wars are common, often driving the sales price well above what the owner was asking. Rising mortgage rates further complicate the homebuying equation this year.
Producer prices surge 11.2% in March on higher energy costs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The surging cost of energy pushed wholesale prices up a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier — another sign that inflationary pressure is widespread in the U.S. economy. The Labor Department said Wednesday that its producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches consumers — climbed at the fastest year-over-year pace in records going back to 2010 and rose 1.4% from February. Energy prices, which soared after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, were up 36.7% from March 2021.
JPMorgan profits drop 42%, bank writes down Russian assets
NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase said its first quarter profits dropped by 42% from last year, partly because the bank had to write down nearly $1.5 billion in assets due to higher inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine. The nation’s largest bank by assets said it earned a profit of $8.3 billion, or $2.63 per share, down from a profit of $14.3 billion, or $4.50 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Wall Street analysts were looking for earning of $2.72 a share. CEO Jamie Dimon warned of challenges ahead because of high inflation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.
China’s March exports grow despite virus; imports flat
BEIJING (AP) — China’s exports rose 15.7% in March over a year earlier while imports were flat due to disruptions from coronavirus outbreaks. Customs data show exports rose to $276 billion despite anti-virus controls in Shanghai and other industrial hubs that caused factories to reduce output. Imports rose less than 1% to $228.7 billion. The ruling Communist Party’s “zero-tolerance” anti-virus strategy is weighing on consumer and factory activity by confining most of Shanghai’s 25 million people to their homes and suspending access to other manufacturing centers. The anti-virus curbs raise risks of further disruptions to global trade following the pandemic. Chinese officials say they are taking steps to keep ports functioning.
US agencies: Industrial control system malware discovered
BOSTON (AP) — Multiple U.S. government agencies have issued a joint alert announcing the discovery of malicious cyber tools capable of gaining “full system access” to multiple industrial control systems. They don’t say who developed the malware. But their private sector cybersecurity partners said Wednesday that the evidence suggests Russia is behind the tools and that they were configured for initially targeting liquid natural gas and electric power sites in North America. The private cybersecurity officials said the tools were discovered before they could be deployed, making this a big win for cyber defenders.
Wall Street ends higher, breaking a 3-day losing streak
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, ending a three-day losing streak as an upbeat report from Delta Air Lines sparked a rally for companies in the travel industry. The S&P 500 rose 1.1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and the Nasdaq rose 2%. Travel-related companies had some of the biggest gains. The S&P 500 is coming off three straight losses brought on by persistent worries about inflation and how the Federal Reserve will respond to it. The government reported that surging energy costs pushed wholesale prices up a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier.
Delta loses $940 million in Q1, but bookings, revenue, surge
ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines lost $940 million in the first quarter yet bookings surged in recent weeks, setting up a breakout summer as Americans try to put the pandemic behind them. And while revenue for the quarter was surprisingly strong, the Atlanta airline faces stiff headwinds, including a sharp rise in fuel and labor costs. But CEO Ed Bastian says bookings in the last five weeks have set a record, which he thinks shows that American are done with the pandemic and want to reclaim their previous lifestyles. Delta’s shares ended up more than 6% Wednesday.
Amazon adds 5% ‘fuel and inflation surcharge’ to seller fees
Amazon says it will add a 5% “fuel and inflation surcharge” to fees it charges third-party sellers who use the retailer’s fulfillment services. The move comes as the e-commerce giant faces rising costs. Seattle-based Amazon said Wednesday on its website that the added fees will take effect April 28 and are subject to change. Federal data released Tuesday showed inflation hit 8.5% in March, its fastest pace in more than 40 years. Amazon said its new fees will apply to both apparel and non-apparel items. The fees will also apply to products ordered before April 28, but are shipped and delivered after that date.
Texas keeping most truck inspections despite border gridlock
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he will continue truck inspections that have gridlocked the U.S.-Mexico border for days. The two-term Republican governor said Wednesday he would not repeal his new policy at all bridges until there are more assurances of security. Abbott did lift inspections at one international bridge after announcing what he said was an agreement for more enhanced security with Nuevo Leon, Mexico. But the most dramatic backups of commercial trucks along Texas’ 1,200-mile border have occurred at other bridges that do not share a border with Nuevo Leon.
The S&P 500 rose 49.14 points, or 1.1%, to 4,446.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 344.23 points, or 1%, to 34,564.59. The Nasdaq added 272.02 points, or 2%, to 13,643.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies ended up 38.17 points, or 1.9%, to 2,025.10.