Business Digest: U.S. stocks bounce back with strong day


WALL STREET

U.S. stocks bounce back with strong day

Solid gains among phone companies and some retailers helped nudge U.S. stocks higher on Thursday, a day after the stock market had its biggest drop in eight months. Banks also recouped some of their losses. Energy and materials stocks fell.

The rally came a day after the market’s worst drop since September as political tumult deepened in Washington, stoking worries among investors that President Donald Trump may have trouble enacting tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.

“People may be wanting to put money to work in stocks, but the bonds they bought yesterday, they’re still going to keep those as a little bit of a hedge, just in case,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.69 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,365.72. The Dow Jones industrial average added 56.09 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,663.02. The Nasdaq composite index gained 43.89 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,055.13. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks picked up 5.19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,361.08.

Bond prices slipped. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.23 percent from 2.22 percent.

ECONOMY

Jobless aid applications fall to 3-month low

WASHINGTON — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign Americans are benefiting from solid job security.

Applications for weekly unemployment aid fell 4,000 to 232,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the lowest level in nearly three months. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, declined 2,750 to 240,750.

The number of people receiving aid fell to 1.9 million, the lowest level since 1988. The figure has fallen 12 percent in the past year.

The rock-bottom figures add to evidence that companies are holding onto workers and hiring at a steady pace. Americans are spending more, factories have cranked up output and home sales are strong, boosting the economy after it barely expanded in the first three months of the year.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook fined $122M by EU over WhatsApp deal

Facebook was fined $122 million for giving European Union antitrust regulators misleading or incorrect information about its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

The fine is one of the largest that Facebook has received from an antitrust regulator, but officials said Thursday it also sends a warning message to other companies.

“Today’s decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s Commissioner for Competition.

The Menlo Park tech firm told the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, in 2014 that it couldn’t automatically match Facebook’s users’ accounts to WhatsApp users’ accounts. But the commission found out that wasn’t true and said that Facebook’s staff knew about the possibility but failed to inform them.

Facebook purchased WhatsApp, which now has more than 1 billion users in over 180 countries, for $22 billion in 2014.

MORTGAGE INDUSTRY

Rate on 30-year loan dips to 4.02%

WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates inched lower this week. It was the fifth straight week that the benchmark 30-year rate hovered around the key threshold of 4 percent.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans slipped to 4.02 percent from 4.05 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.58 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages eased to 3.27 percent from 3.29 percent last week.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.



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