Business Highlights: Economic growth, Robinhood’s IPO
US economy surpasses pre-pandemic size with 6.5% Q2 growth
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fueled by vaccinations and government aid, the U.S. economy grew at a solid 6.5% annual rate last quarter in another sign that the nation has achieved a sustained recovery from the pandemic recession. The total size of the economy has now surpassed its pre-pandemic level. The government estimated that the nation’s gross domestic product accelerated in the April-June quarter from an already robust 6.3% annual growth rate in the first quarter of the year. The quarterly figure fell well below the 8%-plus annual growth rate that many economists had predicted for the second quarter. But the miss was due mainly to bottlenecks in supply chains related to the rapid reopening of the economy.
Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals
CRANE, Texas (AP) — There are about 2 million abandoned oil and gas wells nationwide that haven’t been properly plugged with cement. Many of the wells are releasing methane, which is a greenhouse gas containing about 86 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide over two decades. Some are leaking chemicals such as benzene, which is a known carcinogen, into fields and groundwater. Regulators don’t know where hundreds of thousands of the abandoned wells are. That’s because many were drilled before modern regulations and record-keeping systems were established. In recent years, abandoned wells have been found under brush deep in forests and beneath driveways in suburbia.
In Robinhood’s stock debut, a tumble and then sharp swings
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street has given Robinhood a cool reception in the online broker’s debut in the stock market that it helped reshape by bringing millions of new investors. Shares of Robinhood Markets slumped 8.4% in their first day of trading on the Nasdaq from their initial price of $38 set late Wednesday. It’s a disappointing opening for the highly anticipated offering, which had already priced at the low end of its expected range. Robinhood has created plenty of passion, both by users and critics alike, and that polarizing effect played out through the day as the stock made sharp swings.
Once fading, mask sales starting to rebound
NEW YORK (AP) — Masks had started to disappear from store shelves but they may be front and center again. A spot check of stores and other data sources are showing that mask sales have been rising again in recent weeks as Americans worry about the surging cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus. Retail analysts expect mask sales will get another jolt after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Tuesday changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the cases are surging. Still, stores face challenges in figuring how much they should order given so much uncertainty regarding the virus.
Climate bid faces tricky path over money for electric cars
WASHINGTON (AP) — The bipartisan compromise on infrastructure cuts in half President Joe Biden’s call for $15 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging outlets. That raises the stakes as the administration seeks to win auto industry cooperation on soon-to-be-released anti-pollution rules on climate change. The Senate legislation provides $7.5 billion in federal grants to build a national network of electric charging outlets, an amount that analysts say is a good start but nowhere close enough to spur widespread electric vehicle adoption. The White House now says it won’t set a specific target for the number of charging units but hopes to find other funding to cover the gap.
Amazon delivers a mixed bag of 2Q results, shares slide
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon on Thursday turned in a mixed bag of results for its fiscal second quarter, coming up short of Wall Street expectations in revenue but beating on profits. The world’s largest online retailer also offered a revenue forecast for its current quarter that fell short of analysts’ projections. It said revenue will be in the range of $106 billion to $112 billion. Analysts were looking for $119.3 billion. Shares in Amazon.com Inc. fell more than 6% in after-market trading. Amazon is one of the few retailers that has prospered during the pandemic. Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said the slowdown in sales is a result of the company lapping against last year’s huge pandemic-induced COVID-19 shopping.
Olympic sponsors praise Simone Biles after withdrawal
NEW YORK (AP) — Simone Biles’ sponsors including Athleta and Visa are lauding her decision to put her mental health first and withdraw from the gymnastics team competition during the Olympics. It’s the latest example of sponsors praising athletes who are increasingly open about mental health issues. Tennis star Naomi Osaka found support when she withdrew from the French Open. Biles could still compete in other gymnastic events during the Olympics. She also has a solid history of gymnastic accomplishments in the past. Biles won four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics and has five all-around titles in world championships.
US average mortgage rates mixed; 30-year loan rises to 2.80%
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates were mixed last week. The key 30-year home loan remained below 3% for the fifth straight week amid continued concern over the surging delta coronavirus variant and the progress of economic recovery. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average for the 30-year mortgage edged up to 2.80% from 2.78% last week. The rate for a 15-year loan, a popular option among homeowners refinancing their mortgages, fell to 2.10% from 2.12%. In a fresh sign of a sustained recovery from the pandemic recession, the government reported that the economy grew at a solid 6.5% annual rate last quarter.
The S&P 500 added 18.51 points, or 0.4%, to 4,419.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 153.60 points, or 0.4%, to 35,084.53. The Nasdaq gained 15.68 points, or 0.1%, to 14,778.26. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 15.07 points, or 0.7%, to 2,240.03.