Business Briefs – June 29, 2016

British Chaos Means Interest Rates Will Stay Low For Longer

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Economists say the British vote to leave the European Union means central banks are likely to have to keep their stimulus efforts in place longer. This is what helped keep the global economy afloat in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis but some may even have to unveil new stimulus or rate cuts.

That means savers will suffer longer with zero returns on their accounts. Meanwhile home buyers, companies and governments will keep on borrowing cheaply.

Fed Gives OK to 30 Banks To Up Dividends, Buy Back Shares

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has given the green light to many major banks in the U.S. to raise dividends and buy back shares, judging them to have a sturdy enough to withstand a major economic downturn.

The “stress tests” are an annual check-up of the biggest financial institutions in the U.S.

Of the 33 that were tested, 30 banks were allowed to raise dividends or repurchase shares. They include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo, the four biggest U.S. banks.

Pending US Home Sales Slumped In May Amid Supply Shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in May, with the year-over-year pace of pending sales sliding for the first time in nearly two years.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 3.7 percent last month to 110.8. Overall home sales have steadily improved over the past year but buyers are facing a shortage of available homes that might have curtailed pending sales.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed. May’s decline suggests that completed home sales could slow in July or August.

Ahead Of Amazon Prime Day, Wal-Mart Tries To Move In

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is trying to get a jump on Amazon’s second annual sales bonanza.

The world’s largest retailer is offering a free 30-day trial on its two-day unlimited shipping service, and an extra month free for paying members, as it looks to sharpen its attack against the online leader. It will also offer discounts on an array of products that will ramp up as July goes by.

Wal-Mart’s moves come as Amazon is expected to launch for the second year a sales bonanza called Prime Day, which it touts as bigger than “Black Friday,”

General Mills’ 4th-Quarter Results Beat Expectations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — General Mills’ fiscal fourth-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations as the packaged food company worked on slashing costs and refreshing its product lineup amid struggling sales.

The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by 4 percent.

For the period ended May 29, the maker of Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and Progresso soups said net sales fell 9 percent to $3.93 billion. The decline reflected a drop in volume, and to a lesser degree, unfavorable foreign exchange rates. It earned $379.6 million, or 62 cents per share for the quarter.