Financial and Economic Brief - May 15, 2018by © Liberty Publishing, Inc.
Consumer Sentiment Steady
According to the University of Michigan’s recent report consumer attitudes about the economy hit 98.8 in a May reading, higher than the 98.5 expected by a survey of Reuters economists. Furthermore, eight out of every 10 consumers expect the Fed to raise interest rates in the year ahead, according to chief economist Richard Curtin. “The data will thus provide some additional points for both sides in the debate about the timing and number of future interest rate hikes,” Curtin said. The May result found that “fewer consumers anticipated further declines in the unemployment rate,” Curtin said.
Trade Tensions Ease
Wall Street indexes rose, helped by advances in technology stocks after President Trump “softened” his stance on Chinese technology company ZTE Corp, indicating “easing” U.S.-China trade tensions. Trump promised to help ZTE “get back into business, fast” a month after the Commerce Department banned American companies from selling to the firm for violating an agreement. Trump’s comments came ahead of trade talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. officials to resolve escalating trade. “Some of the headlines point to signs that Trump might be watering down his tough talks on trade,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
Sony Buying Stake in Peanuts Holdings
Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp.’s music unit announced that it is buying a stake in Peanuts Holdings, the company behind Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Sony Music Entertainment signed a deal with DHX Media, based in Nova Scotia, Canada, to acquire 49% of the 80% stake DHX holds in Peanuts. Under the deal, Sony Music will own 39 percent and DHX 41 percent. The parties hope to complete the acquisition on or about June 30. Sony said it sees Peanuts as “world-class,” and hopes to use its character business expertise to strengthen the brand and push the business to grow.