WASHINGTON – U.S. consumers were slightly more confident in the economy in May than in April, partly because they are more optimistic about future hiring and income gains.
The Conference Board said its confidence index rose to 83 from 81.7 in April, which was revised lower. That’s the second-highest reading since January 2008, just after the Great Recession began. Only March was higher at 83.9.
But the index still isn’t back to healthy levels. It regularly topped 90 before the recession.
American home prices rise, but rate of increase slowing
WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices rose in March, but the gains are decelerating as fewer Americans can afford to buy.
The Standard & Poor’s/ Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.4 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, that rate of growth has slowed from earlier this year.
Home prices rose in 19 of the 20 cities in March compared with the previous month, with only New York registering a slight decline, Standard & Poor’s reported. Leading the gains was San Francisco with a 2.4 percent monthly increase, while prices in Seattle, another hub for technology firms, rose 1.9 percent.
Food firm Pilgrim’s Pride wants to take over Hillshire
NEW YORK – Pilgrim’s Pride launched a takeover bid for Hillshire Brands on Tuesday that would expand its business beyond fresh and frozen chicken into a variety of packaged meats, including Ball Park hot dogs and Jimmy Dean sausages.
The $5.58 billion offer could derail Hillshire’s plans to buy Pinnacle Foods, which makes Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Duncan Hines cake mixes and Hungry Man frozen dinners. Hillshire had announced the $4.23 billion deal earlier this month as a way to expand into different parts of the supermarket.
But Pilgrim’s Pride says its offer of $45 per share for Hillshire is “substantially superior” and would allow the companies to cut costs by merging some operations and become a “protein leader” that sells more types of meat.
In a statement, Hillshire said it continues to strongly believe in the “strategic merits and value creation potential” of its deal with Pinnacle Foods. The Chicago-based company said it would review Pilgrim’s proposal as part of its fiduciary duties.
Starbucks chain will put burgers in standalone spots
NEW YORK – Starbucks is dipping its toe into the burger business, with plans to open an outpost of its La Boulange chain that caters to the dinner crowd.
Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills said the Los Angeles restaurant is scheduled to open June 12 and will be open until 10 p.m. It will also serve beer, wine, cocktails and milkshakes.
Starbucks Corp. purchased the La Boulange chain of bakery-cafes in 2012. The cafes are based in the San Francisco Bay Area and primarily focus on breakfast and lunch with soups, salads and sandwiches, along with baked goods. Those cafes typically close before 7 p.m.