Business Briefs – June 18, 2017

Walmart to Acquire Online Men’s Clothing Retailer Bonobos

NEW YORK (AP) – Walmart is buying online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos for $310 million in cash, showing that its appetite for its clothing brands shows no sign of abating as it looks for ways to gain on Amazon. It’s a sign of the aggressive direction Walmart is taking since buying Jet.com last year.

U.S. Housing Starts Drop For 3rd Straight Month

WASHINGTON (AP) – Homebuilders slowed down the pace of construction for the third straight month in May, a possible sign that the shortage of houses for sale might worsen. The Commerce Department says housing starts fell 5.5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million units. This comes after a 2.7 percent monthly decline in April and a 7.7 percent drop in March.

Greece Dodges New Crisis But Austerity Remains Part of Life

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greek stocks rallied to two-year highs Friday, a day after the Greek government struck a deal with European creditors that will mean the country won’t face another brush with bankruptcy any time soon. However, for austerity-weary Greeks the latest deal does little to lift the pall from years of belt-tightening.

If It Flies or Hovers, It Will Be at the Paris Air Show

LE BOURGET, France (AP) – While Airbus and Boeing will again hog the spotlight at the Paris Air Show later this week with their battle for ever-larger slices of the lucrative pie in the sky, a lot of the really interesting stuff will be going on elsewhere at the upcoming biennial aviation and defense industry gathering.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet will crane necks with high-speed aerial displays, drones will again be a hot topic and a would-be flying car will aim to show that it is closer to getting off the ground as a consumer ride. Defense contractors will be seeking customers for their latest high-tech weapons, including drones designed to act as wingmen to piloted aircraft in battle.

More peacefully, there’ll be the launch of a distress beacon with an integrated GPS transmitter to help locate planes that go down — an issue of vital importance after the failure to locate Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on March 8, 2014. And several companies are showcasing technologies to allow passengers to stay connected in the air.

With airlines suffering a string of public relations’ embarrassments recently — from the United Airlines’ passenger getting dragged off a flight to British Airways’ massive outage — the aerospace industry is eager to show off its goods.

Higher Prices Squeezing Both Renters And Would-Be Homeowners

NEW YORK (AP) – A diminished supply of available homes is swelling prices in large U.S. metro areas from New York to Miami to Los Angeles, squeezing out would-be buyers and pushing up rents as more people are forced to remain tenants. The trend is pressuring Americans’ budgets, with about one-third of households spending more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing as of 2015, according to a new report.

Hiring Up in 9 U.S States, Jobless Rates at Record Low in 4

WASHINGTON (AP) – Employers added a significant number of jobs in nine states last month, and unemployment rates in four states fell to record lows.

The Labor Department said Friday that the states with the largest percentage gains in jobs were Alaska, Alabama and Louisiana. The nation’s capital, Washington D.C., recorded an even larger increase, ahead of all the states.

Overall, the figures suggest that steady, if slower, hiring this year is improving the job market in many states. Florida added nearly 30,000 jobs last month, the most of any state, followed by New York with nearly 28,000 and North Carolina with almost 19,000.

Still, the job gains nationwide have slowed in the past couple of months. Hiring averaged 121,000 a month in the past three months, down from 201,000 in the preceding three. Economists say the decline has occurred mostly because hiring typically slows as the pool of unemployed dwindles. The nationwide unemployment rate is at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

The largest job losses, measured as a percentage of the state’s overall employment, were in New Hampshire, followed by Nevada, West Virginia and New Jersey.

Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate last month, at 2.3 percent, followed by North Dakota, at 2.5 percent.

Alaska’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent was the nation’s highest, followed by New Mexico at 6.6 percent.