Stocks off to weak start…A record plunge in consumer spending…Big Lots’ sales rise
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are off to a weak start on Wall Street as traders worry that the U.S. and China could be headed for another confrontation, this time over the autonomy of the former British colony of Hong Kong. The S&P 500 was down 0.4% in the first hour of trading today, but it’s still headed for its third weekly gain out of the last four. Banks and industrial stocks had the biggest losses in the early going, while technology stocks continued to gain ground. The tech sector has far outpaced the rest of the market over the last year.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumer spending plunged by a record-shattering 13.6% in April as the viral pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a deep recession. Last month’s spending decline was far worse than the revised 6.9% drop in March, which itself had set a record for the steepest one-month fall in records dating to 1959. The figures reinforced evidence that the economy is gripped by the worst downturn in decades, with consumers unable or too anxious to spend much. Even with employers cutting millions of jobs, though, incomes soared 10.5% in April, reflecting billions of dollars in government payments in the form of unemployment aid and stimulus checks.
UNDATED (AP) – Big Lots’ first-quarter sales rose 11%, with same-store sales climbing 10.3%. The discount retailer’s stores have remained open during the pandemic, with many consumers shopping for essentials. While sales are up strongly for the second quarter to date, Big Lots Inc. said today that it anticipates those sales moderating due to factors including rivals reopening stores, the planned cancellation of its July Friends and Family promotion and weakening stimulus-driven demand.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A debate in Congress over whether to extend $600 a week in federally provided benefits to the unemployed is likely to intensify with the number of people receiving the aid now topping 30 million – one in five workers. The money, included in a government relief package enacted in March, is set to expire July 31. Yet with the unemployment rate widely expected to still be in the mid-teens by then, members of both parties will face pressure to compromise on some form of renewed benefits for the jobless. Democrats have proposed keeping the $600-a-week payments through January in a $3 trillion relief package that the House approved this month along party lines.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Twitter has added a warning to one of President Donald Trump’s tweets about protests in Minneapolis. The company says the tweet violated the platform’s rules about glorifying violence. Trump has been at war with Twitter since earlier this week, when it applied fact checks to two of his tweets about mail-in ballots. The third tweet to be flagged is about violent protests over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Trump tweeted, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”