You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Business Digest: Consumer confidence at highest level since 2001


ECONOMY

Consumer confidence at highest level since 2001

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer confidence climbed to the highest level in more than 15 years, good news for the economy.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 114.8 in February from 111.6 in January and the highest since July 2001.The index measures both consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their expectations for the future. Both improved in February.

Americans have been in a sunny mood since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump ended a divisive presidential campaign and increased the odds of a tax cut and a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law. The stock market has also surged since the election. The Dow Jones industrial average closed Monday at a record high for the 12th straight time.

Economists closely monitor consumers’ mood because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

INVESTING

Investing costs fall: Fidelity, Schwab cut commissions

NEW YORK — It keeps getting cheaper to invest. Fidelity on Tuesday became the latest company to cut its fees in an ongoing industry battle that’s helped mom-and-pop investors keep more of their own dollars. Rival Charles Schwab matched the price cut in a matter of hours.

Fidelity said it will cut its commission for retail brokerage investors trading U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds online by more than a third to $4.95 from $7.95, among other fee cuts. Fidelity is the country’s largest online brokerage firm with 17.9 million accounts and $1.7 trillion in client assets.

Earlier this month that Schwab cut its base commission for online stock and ETF trades to $6.95 from $8.95, a move that many investors anticipated would lead to a pricing war. Just hours after Fidelity made its announcement, Schwab said on Tuesday it will drop the commission to $4.95, which matches Fidelity’s cost.

Schwab is cutting the expenses for its index fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, so that fees will eat up $3 of every $10,000 invested annually, down from $9. Other rivals have made similar moves in recent months.

BANKING

U.S. banks in strong shape as profit jumps

WASHINGTON — U.S. banks’ earnings in the final quarter of 2016 rose 7.7 percent from a year earlier, as lending continued to grow and banks set aside less for losses on loans for the first time since late 2015.

The data issued Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed strength in the industry more than eight years after the financial crisis struck. However, banks continued to post bigger losses on loans, especially for credit cards and commercial and industrial loans.

The FDIC reported that U.S. banks earned $43.7 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $40.8 billion a year earlier. Banks’ profit for all of 2016 rose by $7.9 billion, or 4.9 percent, to $171.3 billion.

Almost 60 percent of banks reported an increase in profit from a year earlier. Only 8.1 percent of banks were unprofitable, down from 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

As a sign of a healthy banking industry, overall lending increased by 0.8 percent.

RESTAURANTS

Subway disputes findings of study on chicken

How much chicken is actually in your chicken sandwich?

A study by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s consumer affairs show “Marketplace” says researchers conducted DNA tests on several chicken sandwiches from fast-food restaurants and found that Subway’s chicken breast contained only about half chicken. The rest was mostly soy.

Subway said Tuesday the report was “absolutely false and misleading” and that its chicken is 100 percent white meat with seasonings, marinated and delivered to stores as a finished, cooked product.

The study said DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory tested the poultry in popular chicken sandwiches. The Peterborough, Ontario-based team found that most of the scores were close to 100 percent chicken at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, A&W and Tim Horton’s.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Yeti sues 3 more companies over ‘confusingly similar’ tumblers
Yeti sues 3 more companies over ‘confusingly similar’ tumblers

Austin-based Yeti Coolers is continuing its crusade against companies that make products it contends are “confusingly similar” to the ones it manufactures, suing three more companies this month. In a filing in U.S. District Court in Austin, attorneys for Yeti say tumblers sold by RELYMedia, CreekFire and Nine Line Apparel too closely resemble...
Yeti sues 3 more companies over ‘confusingly similar’ tumblers
Yeti sues 3 more companies over ‘confusingly similar’ tumblers

Austin-based Yeti Coolers is continuing its crusade against companies that make products it contends are “confusingly similar” to the ones it manufactures, suing three more companies this month. In a filing in U.S. District Court in Austin, attorneys for Yeti say tumblers sold by RELYMedia, CreekFire and Nine Line Apparel too closely resemble...
How to teach Austinites about CodeNext? Let’s try Legos
How to teach Austinites about CodeNext? Let’s try Legos

For those looking to learn more about how CodeNext could affect the city, two Austin organizations say the best learning tool might be an old childhood favorite — Legos. The city’s land development code rewrite, known as CodeNext, is expected to be one of Austin’s most impactful long-term policies. But some residents have criticized...
Up the Ladder

Banking & finance Chase has named Marcus Kline vice president and Austin-area manager of business banking. Community The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has named Luis Rodriguez president and chief executive officer. Manufacturing & retail Factory Mattress has named Sarah Johnson chief financial officer. Technology Umbel has named Mike...
Have a great workplace? Let us know

Help us spread the word about the best places to work in Austin. Nominations remain open for the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project, with the nomination deadline extended until July 7. The project recognizes employers that stand for the best in leadership, vision, an employee-centered culture and other qualities...
More Stories