Stocks edge higher…Productivity rises…Twitter stock surges
NEW YORK (AP) – Stock indexes are edging higher in morning trading on Wall Street after China cut tariffs on key imports as part of a trade war truce. China is also promising tax cuts and other help to businesses to offset the economic blow from the virus outbreak that has put its economy on lockdown. Twitter and Coach brand owner Tapestry are among the standouts in the early going following their latest financial results. Technology and communications companies are also gaining, while energy companies lag the market.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. productivity rebounded in the final three months of last year, helping to boost productivity growth for the year to the best showing in nearly a decade. The Commerce Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in the October-December quarter, a significant improvement from a 0.2% drop in productivity in the third quarter. For the year, productivity was up 1.7%. In a separate report today, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits claims fell by 15,000, to 202,000, the lowest level since last April. The government releases the January jobs report tomorrow.
NEW YORK (AP) – Shares in Twitter have surged after the social media company said its revenue growth and user numbers exceeded forecasts. Twitter says its fourth-quarter net income fell to $119 million from $255 million in the same period a year earlier. But it also said that revenue and user numbers beat expectations. The short messaging service posted revenue of $1.01 billion in the period, 11% higher than a year ago. The company had 152 million daily users in the latest quarter, up from 145 million in the previous quarter and above forecasts for 147 million. Shares jumped about 16% in early trading.
UNDATED (AP) – KFC owner Yum Brands ended 2019 with better-than-expected sales, but the impact of the new virus in China could weigh heavily on its first quarter results. Yum says 30% of its stores in China are closed, and sales are down at those that remain open. Yum says fourth-quarter revenue rose 9% to $1.7 billion, beating Wall Street’s forecast, but adjusted earnings of $1 per share fell short of forecasts. Yum was stung by a drop in the value of its investment in food delivery service GrubHub, which reported widening losses this week.
DETROIT (AP) – For the first time, the U.S. government’s highway safety agency has approved a company’s request to deploy a self-driving vehicle that doesn’t meet federal safety standards for human-driven cars and trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it granted temporary approval for Silicon Valley robotics company Nuro to run a low-speed autonomous delivery vehicle without side- and rear-view mirrors used by human drivers. Nuro announced plans in Decemberáfor low-speed vehicles in partnership with Walmart to deliver groceries in Houston. Under the temporary approval, Nuro will have to make real-time safety reports to the agency.