Business Briefs – July 3, 2019

Stage Set for Lackluster 2nd Quarter U.S. Corporate Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. trade conflicts and signs of a slowing global economy have led many U.S. companies to lower expectations for how much profit they made in the spring. This sets up the possibility for the first back-to-back decline in overall quarterly earnings for S&P 500 companies in three years. Another round of weak earnings could signal trouble for the bull market.

U.S. Trade Deficit Rises to 5-Month High of $55.5B in May

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit rose to a five-month high in May as the politically sensitive imbalances with China and Mexico widened. The Commerce Department says the gap between the goods and services the U.S. sells and what it buys from foreign countries rose 8.4% to $55.5 billion in May, the highest since December.

Some Big Farms Collect Big Checks From Trump Aid Package

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – An aid package for American farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has meant big checks for some big operations. Payouts from the Department of Agriculture program included nearly $2.8 million to one Missouri soybean operation. An Associated Press analysis found many other big farms collected hundreds of thousands of dollars. The farms are filing legally, but some longtime critics say the program is the latest example of loopholes that make it easy to elude supposed caps.

Illinois’ Gas Tax Hike: It’s Going To Hit More Than Motorists

(Chicago Tribune) – Illinois’ doubling of the state gas tax on Monday was evident at gas pumps last weekend, as motorists lined up to top off their tanks.

But the increase in the state’s motor fuel tax — from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents — will hit a lot of consumers, not just those who own vehicles. Businesses are just now working through how they’ll pay for it, but the early read is that, like most things, their increased costs of doing business will trickle down to customers.

Fire Destroys Jim Beam Warehouse Filled With Bourbon Barrels

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A massive Jim Beam warehouse filled with 45,000 barrels of bourbon was destroyed by a fire that sent flames shooting into the night sky and generated so much heat that fire truck lights melted, authorities said Wednesday. Firefighters from four counties responded to the blaze that erupted late Tuesday.

Survey: Modest Job Gains in June Hint at Slowing Economy

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. companies added just 102,000 jobs in June, a possible turning point that could signal a coming increase in the unemployment rate. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the meager gains — after just 41,000 jobs were added in May — indicate a slowdown in the economy. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees cut 37,000 jobs. Construction firms let go 18,000 workers.

U.S. Sanctions Cuban Firm to Weaken Maduro’s Hold in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The United States is hitting Cuba’s state-run oil shipping firm Cubametales with financial sanctions saying it’s a key player propping up Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that Maduro clings to power using shipments of Venezuelan oil to buy critical military and intelligence support from Havana.