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Business briefs: Stocks rally; retail sales bounce back in March – Charleston Post Courier

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Tech, health care drive rally

NEW YORK — Investors shrugged off geopolitical jitters Monday, sending U.S. stocks broadly higher and extending the market’s gains from last week.

Technology companies, health care stocks and industrial firms accounted for much of the rally as traders focused on the latest company earnings and deal news. Oil prices fell after surging last week ahead of the U.S.-led missile attack on Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“It’s some relief from the global political situation over the weekend,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “The other thing is we’ve had over the last few weeks particularly this build up in pessimism, and that provided some opportunity for stocks to rally once the news of this event was out of the way.”

The market was in rally mode from the start of trading Monday, despite a sell-off among major indexes in Europe.

Investors seemed to put aside concerns over the geopolitical tensions that led to Friday night’s missile attack by the U.S., Britain and France on Syria’s chemical weapons program. On Monday, the White House said it was considering imposing additional sanctions on Russia, a key ally of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Instead, the market shifted its focus to corporate America. Wall Street is forecasting the strongest growth in seven years for S&P 500 companies, and the hope has been that healthy profit reports will steady the market following a rough couple of months. Over the long term, stock prices tend to track the progress of corporate profits.

US retail sales rebound in March

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers bounced back in March and bought more cars, furniture and appliances after three months of declining retail sales.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.6 percent last month, the largest increase since November. Auto sales jumped 2 percent, the most in six months.

Sales at retailers slipped in the first two months of this year as consumers pulled back after heavy spending during the winter holidays. Last month’s figures suggest Americans are returning to more free-spending ways. Easter holiday purchases also likely lifted spending. Economists predict that healthy consumer confidence, steady job gains and the impact of tax cuts will fuel solid spending growth in the months ahead.

Analysts were a bit disappointed by the March figures. Many had expected a stronger bounce-back. Excluding autos, sales were up just 0.2 percent.

“In short, a solid gain, but if anything a bit weaker in the key details than generally expected,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Sales rose at grocery stores, restaurants and bars, and drug stores. They fell at home and garden stores, clothing shops and sporting goods stores.

Online retail sales increased 0.8 percent in March and have risen nearly 10 percent compared with a year ago. That’s more than double the overall retail sales gain in the past 12 months of 4.5 percent.

City may offer cash to Boeing supplier

WICHITA, Kan. — A Kansas-based aircraft supplier would receive $10 million to support an expansion project but must pay back the money should it leave Wichita in the next two decades, under a proposed agreement with local officials.

Spirit AeroSystems, which supplies parts for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, would receive $3 million in cash contributions from Wichita and $7 million from Sedgwick County in the deal that also includes the payback provision, Wichita assistant city manager Scott Rigby told The Wichita Eagle. The agreement stems from the company’s December announcement that it would invest $1 billion in its Wichita plant over five years and hire 1,000 new workers.

Rigby said the “wealth-building jobs” with an average annual wage of $56,000 would allow people to buy homes and new cars.

The agreement calls for Wichita and Sedgwick County to establish the Eclipse Investment Association, which will hold the mortgage on a $23 million facility to be constructed on Spirit’s campus. The association would hold the cash contributions in escrow and pay them out incrementally to Spirit during construction. Spirit would pay the remaining $13 million.

If Spirit doesn’t meet its capital investment or job requirements, it would be responsible for paying “liquidated damages,” according to the agreement.

Home builders less bullish on April

NEW YORK — Home builder confidence slid for the fourth consecutive month with steadily rising mortgage rates and sky-high home prices putting ownership out of reach for more and more Americans.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for April, released Monday, fell one point to 69. Any reading above 50 indicates more builders see sales conditions as good rather than poor, but it’s the most extended decline since the run-up to the housing bust.

The index has been above 60 since September 2016 and it hit a record high in December. April’s reading is the lowest since November.

Builders’ view of current sales conditions fell two points to 75, the outlook for sales over the next six months fell one point, to 77. A measure of buyer traffic held steady at 51.

Nominees named for central bank board

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has selected Columbia University professor Richard Clarida to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and Kansas bank commissioner Michelle Bowman to fill another vacancy on the Fed’s seven-member board.

The two nominations are the latest steps in Trump’s efforts to remake the seven-member Fed board, which currently has four vacancies. Both nominations need Senate approval.

Clarida would become the Fed’s No. 2 official, filling a spot left vacant when Stanley Fischer stepped down last October.

Bowman would fill a spot on the Fed board that is reserved for a community banker or a regulator of community banks.

Trump last year tapped Fed board member Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Fed chairman. He also selected Randal Quarles to be vice chairman for bank supervision.