August 17, 2023
China’s Xi calls for patience as Communist Party tries to reverse economic slump
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called for patience in a speech released as the ruling Communist Party tries to reverse a deepening economic slump and said the West’s pursuit of material wealth led to “spiritual poverty.” Xi’s speech was published by Qiushi, the party’s top theoretical journal, after data showed consumer and factory activity weakened further in July despite official promises to support struggling entrepreneurs. The government skipped giving an update on a politically sensitive spike in unemployment among young people. Xi called for China to “build a socialist ideology with strong cohesion” and to focus on long-term goals of improving education, health care and food supplies.
China’s government tries to defuse economic fears after real estate developer’s debt struggle
BEIJING (AP) — China’s government is trying to reassure jittery homebuyers after a major real estate developer missed a payment on its multibillion-dollar debt, reviving fears about the industry’s shaky finances and their impact on the struggling Chinese economy. Economists say there is no indication Country Garden’s problems might spread beyond China. But they highlight the industry’s struggle under pressure from the ruling Communist Party to reduce soaring debt that is seen as an economic threat. That has bankrupted hundreds of small developers and depressed China’s economic growth. A government spokesman tried to reassure the public, saying financial conditions are improving and regulators are getting debt under control.
China says it would welcome a visit by US commerce secretary after imposition of investment controls
BEIJING (AP) — China says it would welcome a visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo following the imposition of foreign investment controls by her agency that have stung numerous Chinese companies. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting did not offer a date, but said the countries are in “close communication on arrangements.” Earlier reports said a visit could come as early as later this month. Shu says China is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the investment controls and would respond on the basis of the results. U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month to block and regulate U.S. high-tech investment in China, reflecting the intensifying competition between the world’s two biggest economies.
Stock market today: Wall Street slumps again as higher bond yields keep biting
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is falling for a third straight day as rising yields in the bond market keep cranking up the pressure. The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower Thursday, with August on track to be its worst month of the year by far. The Dow was down 306 points in late trading, and the Nasdaq composite was 1.2% lower. Stocks broadly have retreated in August, in part because a swift rise in bond yields is forcing a reassessment of how much to pay for them. The 10-year Treasury yield is nearly back to where it was in 2007.
Average long-term US mortgage rate climbs to 7.09% this week to highest level in more than 20 years
The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate jumped this week to its highest level in 20 years. That’s grim news for would-be homebuyers already facing high home prices caused a lack of supply. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan jumped to 7.09% from 6.96% last week. That’s the highest since April of 2002, when the average rate clocked in at 7.13%. Sharply higher rates are contributing to a dearth of available homes, as homeowners who locked into lower borrowing costs two years ago are now reluctant to sell and jump into a higher rate on a new property.
Biden’s approval rating on the economy stagnates despite slowing inflation, AP-NORC poll shows
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has devoted the past several weeks to talking up the positive impacts of his policies — but his efforts have yet to meaningfully register with the public. Only 36% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, slightly lower than the 42% who approve of his overall performance. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Both figures are close to where Biden’s approval numbers have stood for about the past year and a half. Signs of an improving economic outlook have done little to sway how people feel about him as Biden could face his predecessor and 2020 opponent, Republican Donald Trump, in next year’s election.
Maui residents fill philanthropic gaps while aid makes the long journey to the fire-stricken island
Nonprofits and volunteers in Maui have cobbled together countless improvised and urgent solutions since the deadliest wildfire in over a century hit their community. Kami Irwin, who runs a military nonprofit, was coordinating donation distributions out of the tasting room of the Maui Brewing Company. Her organization learned last week that 100 pounds of insulin was grounded at Kona International Airport on the big island. They spent several hours trying to link health officials with a general aviation pilot who could complete the medical delivery to their community. She was frustrated that volunteers were doing such vital work but she says, “We will be OK if us residents keep building together.”
Walmart’s hot sellers? Hand mixers and kitchen tools. In an era of high prices, basic is king
NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is reporting strong second-quarter sales results as the retailer’s low-price model continues to attract budget-conscious consumers in a tough economic environment. Walmart earned $7.89 billion, or $2.92 per share, up from last year. Its adjusted per-share profit of $1.84 was better than Wall Street had expected. Sales rose nearly 6% to $161.63 billion. The nation’s largest retailer also boosted its annual outlook.
U.S. jobless claims applications fall as labor market continues to show resiliency
The U.S. labor market continues to flex its muscle, as applications for jobless claims fell again last week and remain at healthy levels despite high interest rates and elevated inflation. Applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 11,000 to 239,000 for the week ending August 12, down from 250,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, which softens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 2,750 to 234,250. Jobless claim applications are seen as a proxy for the number of layoffs in a given week. Overall, 1.72 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended August 5.
New Jersey shutters 27 Boston Market restaurants over unpaid wages, related worker issues
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — State labor officials have temporarily shut down more than two dozen Boston Market restaurants in New Jersey. That comes after an investigation sparked by worker complaints found multiple violations of workers’ rights, including more than $600,000 in back wages owed to 314 employees. The department issued a stop-work order Tuesday against 27 restaurants across New Jersey. The state also imposed nearly $2.6 million in penalties against the firm. The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment to Boston Market’s corporate office in Golden, Colorado, on Thursday. There are 31 Boston Market restaurants in New Jersey and 310 nationwide, according to its website.