S&P logs 5-week win streak; South Carolina airport lands crew base

By Post & Courier

Wall St. shrugs off new trade threat

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks rose Friday after the Labor Department said hiring remained solid in July and strong quarterly earnings continued to boost the market.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose for the fifth week in a row. Some of those gains have been small, but that’s the longest winning streak for the index this year.

There was little reaction to China’s threat to put tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. Larger multinational companies climbed while smaller, U.S.-focused companies lagged the rest of the market. That’s the opposite of what generally happens when investors are worried about trade tensions.

Bond prices edged higher, sending yields lower. Food companies and other big-dividend stocks rose.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, said the data show the economy is likely to keep expanding, but it’s not heating up in a way that would push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly.

“That’s exactly what the market wants to see,” he said. “This report is right in the sweet spot.”

United carrier adding 150 SC jobs

COLUMBIA – A regional carrier for United Airlines is adding about 150 jobs in South Carolina.

News outlets reported that Air Wisconsin will create a flight-crew base at Columbia Metropolitan Airport later this year.

Air Wisconsin chief operating officer Bob Frisch Sr. said the pilots and flight attendants being added in Columbia is in addition to the carrier’s recently expanded maintenance operation at the airport.

The new facility opening in October will include new hires and employees who transfer from Air Wisconsin’s other crew bases in Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington-Dulles.

Air Wisconsin operates United Express flights from Columbia to Chicago and Washington-Dulles.

The airline maintenance base performs overnight maintenance on its CRJ 200 aircraft, which carry about 50 passengers.

Trade deficit grows $46.3B in June

WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit widened in June for the first time in four months as exports fell and imports grew. Politically sensitive trade gaps with China, Mexico and Canada all increased.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the deficit in goods and services – the gap between what the US sells and what it buys from other countries – rose 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May. U.S. exports slid 0.7 percent to $213.8 billion; imports rose 0.6 percent to $260.2 billion, led by increases in medicine and crude oil.

The United States ran goods deficits in June of $33.5 billion with China, up 0.9 percent from May; $7.4 billion with Mexico, up 10.5 percent; and $2 billion with Canada, up 39.7 percent.

In the first half of the year, the United States has registered a trade deficit in goods and services of $291.2 billion, up 7.2 percent from January-June 2017.

NC jury tells pork giant to pay $473M

RALEIGH – A federal jury decided Friday that the world’s largest pork producer should pay $473.5 million to neighbors of three North Carolina industrial-scale hog farms for unreasonable nuisances they suffered from odors, flies and rumbling trucks

The jury found that Smithfield Foods owes compensation to six neighbors who complained that the company failed to stop “the obnoxious, recurrent odors and other causes of nuisance” resulting from closely packed hogs, which “generate many times more sewage than entire towns.”

The jury awarded $23.5 million in compensatory damages and $450 million in punitive damages, which will be reduced to a total of $94 million under limits in state law.

the North Carolina Pork Council decried the decision, warning that it could lead to more lawsuits across the country.

Walmart testing automated carts

NEW YORK – Walmart is testing automated carts that retrieve bins of groceries from storage as it tries to speed up the process of packaging online orders to send out or bringing to customers at their cars.

The company said Friday it’s working with Alert Innovation on the Alphabot, which it’s testing in Salem, New Hampshire. The mobile carts move up and down and sideways to retrieve items faster than if workers walked the aisles.

Workers will still handpick produce, meat and other fresh products, and assemble, pack and bring the order out to shoppers. Walmart says it’ll hire the usual number of workers at the test store.

Online grocery shopping is still a tiny part of the market, but customer convenience is increasingly crucial as chains try to catch up to Amazon.

Probe into Exxon climate numbers ends

NEW YORK – The Trump administration has dropped a two-year investigation into how Exxon Mobil Corp. factors climate-change regulations into how it calculates the value of its assets.

The Securities and Exchange Commission informed the energy giant in a letter that it would not recommend an enforcement action against the company at this time.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Scott Silvestri said Friday the company cooperated fully with the SEC inquiry. He says Exxon is confident its financial reporting meets all legal and accounting requirements. The SEC letter says its decision should not be construed as an exoneration. The agency declined further comment.

Exxon faces separate investigations in New York and Massachusetts into whether it misled investors about climate change issues.

Services firms saw July growth slowdown

WASHINGTON – U.S. services companies grew at a slower pace in July as business activity and new orders slipped.

The Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its services index fell to 55.7 last month compared to 59.1 in June. Readings greater than 50 signal an expanding economy.

The services sector, where most Americans are employed, has now grown for 102 straight months, or more than eight years.

The index was pulled down by sharp monthly decreases in business activity and news orders, both of which had been relatively high in June. The employment component of the index improved last month.

Companies in the survey were generally positive about the economy, although several cited risks of the tariffs pushed by the Trump administration on China and the European Union.

This article provided by NewsEdge.