WASHINGTON – U.S. companies restocked their store shelves and warehouses at a steady pace in May, a sign they expect sales will remain solid in the months ahead.
Business stockpiles rose 0.5 percent in May, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was down slightly from a 0.6 percent gain in the previous month. April’s increase was the highest in six months. Total business sales rose 0.4 percent, much lower than April’s 0.8 percent gain.
Steady inventory rebuilding can bolster economic growth by increasing demand for manufactured goods and boosting factory production.
Retail sales up slightly in June
WASHINGTON – U.S. retail sales increased slightly in June, evidence that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year.
Retail sales rose just 0.2 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, held back by a sharp drop at building and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers.
The figures suggest that Americans are still reluctant to spend freely, limiting growth in the April-June quarter. While employers have stepped up hiring since January, wage growth remains weak and is barely keeping up with inflation. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
Trustee files new Madoff suit
NEW YORK – The trustee trying to recover money for victims of Bernard Madoff says in a new lawsuit that Madoff’s two sons knew of the Ponzi scheme and sought to cover up the fraud by deleting emails during a Securities and Exchange Commission probe.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks to recover $153 million from the brothers for using their father’s business as a “personal cookie jar,” including millions to buy two apartments in Manhattan. The lawsuit says the money came in the form of sham loans and fictitious trades and deferred compensation.
The lawsuit names Andrew Madoff and the estate of his elder brother, Mark Madoff, and Mark’s widow Stephanie Mack. Mark committed suicide in December 2010.
“The new allegations are unfounded and false,” said Martin Flumenbaum, a lawyer who represents Andrew and Mark’s estate.
• Warren Buffett has given several charities Berkshire Hathaway stock worth more than $2.8 billion as part of his plan to give away his fortune gradually through annual gifts. In accordance with Buffett’s giving plan, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation received the biggest gift, worth more than $2.1 billion. Buffett also gave nearly 1.7 million Class B Berkshire shares to his own foundation and 1.16 million shares to each of his three children’s foundations.
• Frito-Lay, the snack division of PepsiCo Inc., will announce today it will make cappuccino-flavored potato chips as one of the four finalists for its second annual “Do Us a Flavor” contest in the U.S., which gives people a chance to create a new potato chip that is sold nationally and win $1 million. The other three finalists are Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger. Frito-Lay says the four flavors are expected to start hitting shelves in late July. People will then be able to vote online for their favorite through Oct. 18.
• Google has appointed Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor Co., to its board. Mulally, 68, retired from Ford at the end of June. Over the winter, he was rumored to be in the running for the top job at Microsoft Corp., but it went to an internal candidate.