U.S. economic activity measure rebounds in July
WASHINGTON – A measure of future U.S. economic activity recovered in July following a sharp drop in June, providing further evidence of an economy that is regaining some momentum.
The Conference Board said Friday that its index of leading economic indicators increased 0.4 percent in July after falling 0.4 percent in June.
The July strength came from an improvement in a number of components, with the largest contributions coming from a big jump in applications for housing permits and declines in applications for unemployment benefits.
Economists viewed the July result as evidence that the economy has regained its footing after a sluggish spring that had raised concerns that the country could be in danger of slipping into another recession.
“The expansion continues, no double-dip recession, just continued moderate, sub-par growth,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo.
Southwest adds $10 to short round trips
DALLAS – Southwest Airlines Co. raised fares Friday on short routes by $10 per round trip, and several large airlines quickly matched the increase.
The fare hike applied to flights of less than 500 miles each way, or about one-third of Southwest’s routes.
“We never like to increase fares, but simply we needed to cover the cost of business,” said Southwest spokeswoman Ashley Dillon.
During the second quarter, which ended June 30, Southwest’s operating expenses rose 6 percent compared with the same period last year. Fuel, labor and maintenance costs all increased.
The company covered the higher expenses by boosting revenue nearly 12 percent, partly due to a 5 percent increase in the average fare, to $150 each way. Net income rose 42 percent, to $228 million.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, the three biggest U.S. carriers, confirmed that they matched the Southwest increase. JetBlue Airways said Friday afternoon that it had not raised prices.
Pizza Hut, Home Depot fight music claim by The Black Keys
LOS ANGELES – Attorneys for Pizza Hut and The Home Depot are denying that a pair of ads improperly used music by The Black Keys.
The Grammy-winning band sued the companies in June, claiming they used the band’s music to sell pizza and power tools. The companies separately denied the band’s allegations in court documents filed Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles.
Each company is asking a judge to have the band pay their attorneys’ fees if they win the case.
The Black Keys claim The Home Depot Inc. used elements of its hit “Lonely Boy” in an ad for power tools. The band accuses Pizza Hut Inc. of using elements of the song “Gold On the Ceiling” to sell a cheesy crust pizza.
Like it or not, Facebook sees price of shares drop to $19
NEW YORK – Facebook’s stock fell to $19 for the first time on Friday, losing half its market value since the company’s initial public offering in May.
The stock dipped 87 cents, or 4 percent, to briefly hit $19, just minutes before it closed the trading day at $19.05. Facebook’s shares ended the week down nearly 13 percent.
Facebook hit the $19 milestone a day after the expiration of a lockup period that had previously prevented some early investors and insiders from selling their shares. Stakeholders who owned a combined 271 million Facebook shares before Thursday can now sell their holdings.