Apr 26, 5:40 PM EDT

Business Highlights


Hope for US trade visit to China: A delay in harmful tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) - When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leads a delegation of American officials to Beijing next week, few analysts expect them to defuse a smoldering trade conflict with China. Rather, the likeliest outcome is a more modest one: That the talks could produce a delay in the series of damaging tariffs the two nations have threatened to impose on each other's goods.


Microsoft Windows adapts as its business importance declines

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) - Microsoft's latest earnings report shows that Windows is no longer a core business so much as a complement to the company's other offerings. The company still makes money from Windows, but its share of the business has shrunk. On Thursday, Microsoft reported third-quarter revenue of $26.8 billion, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. By contrast, Windows licensing revenue grew by just 4 percent.


Amazon profit more than doubles; shares soar

NEW YORK (AP) - Amazon's first-quarter profit more than doubled from a year ago and blew past Wall Street expectations. Its stock soared 6 percent in after-hours trading. The Seattle-based company reported net income of $1.63 billion, or $3.27 per share, in the three months ending March 31. Its earnings per share were almost triple the $1.24 per share analysts expected, according to FactSet.


Bookings for Southwest fall after fatal accident

DALLAS (AP) - Inspections of jet engines at Southwest Airlines turned up one cracked fan blade last year but no others since last week's deadly accident that investigators believe started when a weakened blade broke off during flight. Southwest executives said Thursday that they have checked more than 25,000 fan blades since 2016 for signs of metal fatigue and the remaining 10,000 will be inspected by mid-May. They also said that bookings have dropped since the April 17 accident and will cost Southwest between $50 million and $100 million.


Oregon's struggles tracking pot reflect industrywide problem

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon is awash in data on its marijuana industry, but it has few workers to monitor and check what its legal businesses are doing. Its experience is reflective of a significant challenge in the expanding legal U.S. pot industry: the ability of governments to track their markets. Washington state recently switched tracking contractors, and quickly ran into technical problems. In California, legal sales began Jan. 1 without a vast computer system for tracking, which won't be available for months.


US mortgage rates highest since 2013; 30-year at 4.58 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Long-term U.S. mortgage rates continued to climb this week, reaching their highest level in more than four years and denting prospective home purchasers' prospects amid the spring buying season. It was the third straight week of increases for long-term mortgage rates. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.58 percent from 4.47 percent last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.02 percent from 3.94 percent last week.


Of Mutual Interest: Are stocks on the comeback trail?

NEW YORK (AP) - Investors have been uneasy since stocks dived 10 percent in just nine days in early February. The market has seen big losses and big gains since, mostly driven by a trade dispute between the U.S. and China, and has yet to return to the record highs of late January. But some analysts say the market is ready to move in the right direction.


European Central Bank still confident despite slower growth

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - The European Central Bank has left its key interest rates and stimulus settings unchanged as it sizes up conflicting signs on the economy. Markets are waiting to hear bank President Mario Draghi's assessment at a news conference following the stand-pat decision by the bank's 25-member governing council.


Facebook and other big tech stocks rally as US indexes climb

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks climbed Thursday as Facebook led a rally by technology companies. Most of the market moved higher as interest rates declined from the four-year highs reached over the last few days. Facebook saw its stock price wither last month after its data privacy scandal, but its shares surged Thursday as the controversy didn't appear to affect the social media platform's business in the first quarter. Other big technology companies like Alphabet and Microsoft also rallied and reversed some of their recent losses.


The S&P 500 index jumped 27.54 points, or 1 percent, to 2,666.94. The Dow Jones industrial average added 238.51 points, or 1 percent, to 24,322.34. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite advanced 114.94 points, or 1.6 percent, to 7,118.68. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 7.43 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,557.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up 0.2 percent to $68.19 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 1 percent to $74.74 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline gained 1.1 percent to $2.11 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.1 percent to $2.16 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.3 percent to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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