Monday, April 17, 2017

Daily business briefing

Soft U.S. economic data weighs on stocks, United Airlines says it will stop bumping passengers to make room for employees, and more

Daily business briefing
1. Soft U.S. economic data weighs down stocks

Global stocks dipped on Monday and U.S. stock futures edged lower after softer-than-expected U.S. economic data, along with worries over North Korea, weighed on investor sentiment. Data released Friday showed that retail sales fell by more than expected in March, and core inflation slowed to 2 percent from 2.2 percent in February. S&P 500 mini futures fell by 0.15 percent, approaching a six-week low and pointing to a slightly lower open on Wall Street after the three-day Easter weekend. Upbeat economic data from China cheered the mood a bit, but not enough to get markets to shift direction.

Source: Reuters
2. United says it will stop removing passengers to make room for employees

United Airlines will stop letting employees bump ticketed passengers off of overbooked flights, a spokeswoman for the carrier said Sunday. The company's leaders promised to revamp their policies for dealing with full planes after the outcry over video showing a bloodied passenger, Dr. David Dao of Kentucky, being dragged off a plane in Chicago by aviation police. "We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure," the spokeswoman, Maggie Schmerin, wrote in an email. "This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies." She said the change was intended to help ensure that such incidents "never happen again."

Source: The New York Times
3. China reports stronger than expected economic growth

China reported Monday that its economy, the world's second largest behind the U.S., had grown by 6.9 percent in the first quarter, marking a slight improvement after five straight quarters of 6.7 percent or 6.8 percent growth. It was the second consecutive quarter of accelerating growth for China, the first time that has happened in seven years. Economists had expected China to register another quarter of 6.8 percent growth, but it topped forecasts thanks to unexpectedly strong expansion at factories, as well as strong numbers in housing, infrastructure investment, exports, and retail sales. "China, at least in the near term, is in a sweet spot with growth momentum strong and inflation pressures easing," said Rob Subbaraman, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore. "Whichever way you dice it, the first quarter was a strong set of numbers."

Source: Bloomberg, The New York Times
4. Higher U.S. output drags down oil prices

Crude oil prices fell early Monday as investors took profits after recent gains, and increases in U.S. output nearly canceled out the effect of China's economic growth and OPEC's effort to cut production. International benchmark Brent crude futures declined by 53 cents a barrel to $55.36, and U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate futures were down 46 cents to $52.72 a barrel. Both benchmarks gained more than 1 percent last week in the four-day week before the long Easter weekend.

Source: MarketWatch, Reuters
5. Fate of the Furious sets overseas box office record

The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in Universal's car-based action series, took in $100.2 million domestically and an estimated $432.3 million internationally in its first weekend, setting a record for the biggest global debut ever. Its estimated $532.5 million total narrowly beat the previous record of $529 million set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Fate of the Furious' North American haul marked a slowdown, however, falling 32 percent short of the $147 million earned by its predecessor, Furious 7, in its 2015 debut. The ensemble film, starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, and others, set a record overseas, however, showing growth for the franchise in 30 countries, and crushing the previous record of $316.7 million set by Jurassic World.

Source: EW.com, The New York Times
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