Business Briefs – May 8, 2018

Buffett Says Stocks Remain Best investment Option for Most

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Billionaire Warren Buffett recommends that investors stick with simple stock index funds — not bonds and especially not bitcoins.

Buffett discussed a variety of topics during an interview on CNBC Monday after he spent Saturday answering questions before thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said he doesn’t think the stock market is overpriced compared with other options even though he’s had trouble finding entire businesses to buy at reasonable prices.

“It wouldn’t take me a nanosecond to decide to go into stocks,” he said.

Buffett said cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are nonproductive assets similar to gold. So Buffett says anyone buying bitcoin is betting that someone else will pay more for it later.

Monsanto CEO and Others to Leave After Bayer Takeover

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will leave the company after it’s acquired by Germany’s Bayer AG.

The St. Louis company said Monday that Grant will work to see the $57 billion deal through and oversee operations before it closes. Bayer expects the deal to close in the second quarter.

Monsanto sells seeds and crop protection chemicals to the agricultural sector.

Microsoft Launches $25M Program To Use AI for Disabilities

(AP) – Microsoft is launching a $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to build better technology for people with disabilities.

CEO Satya Nadella announced the new “AI for Accessibility” effort as he kicked off Microsoft’s annual conference for software developers. The Build conference in Seattle is meant to foster enthusiasm for the company’s latest ventures in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet-connected devices and virtual reality.

Microsoft competes with Amazon and Google to offer internet-connected services to businesses and organizations.

U.S. Consumer Borrowing Up $11.6 Billion In March

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans increased their borrowing by $11.6 billion in March as a big increase in the category that covers auto and student loans offset the largest monthly drop in credit card borrowing in more than five years.

The Federal Reserve says the March increase in total debt was below the $13.6 billion increase in February and was the smallest monthly gain since September. Borrowing for student and auto loans rose a solid $14.2 billion, the third straight month of $14 billion-plus gains.

However, borrowing in the category that covers credit cards fell for a second straight month, dropping $2.6 billion following a decline of $514.5 million in February. The March contraction in credit card debt was the biggest since a $4.4 billion fall in December 2012.

Consumer borrowing trends are closely monitored for clues they can provide about the willingness of consumers to borrow more to support their spending.

Nebraska Farmland Values Drop By 2.8 Percent

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska’s farmland values saw a decline for the second consecutive year after decades of increases.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue released a report Friday showing that agricultural land values fell by almost 2.8 percent, the Omaha World-Herald reported . The values dropped by 0.15 percent last year, which marked the first decline after nearly 25 years of increases.

Residential and commercial property values increased this year by 5.4 percent and 6.9 percent respectively.