Tech stocks push Dow to 71-point gain
U.S. stocks rose Thursday as gains for technology companies and banks helped the market recover some of its losses from earlier in the week. However drugmakers and distributors tumbled. The European Central Bank said Thursday it will begin gradually reducing the bond purchases it’s been making to strengthen the regional economy. Investors were glad the bank isn’t being more aggressive. Technology companies recovered some of the ground they lost a day ago, and banks and credit card companies jumped as bond yields continued to climb.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,560.40. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 71.40 points, or 0.3 percent, to 23,400.86. The Nasdaq composite lost 7.12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,556.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 3.98 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,497.46.
Trump picks interim IRS commissioner
The White House named a Treasury official to serve as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, succeeding an IRS commissioner who has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans over his response to the screening of political groups. The White House announced that David Kautter will serve as acting IRS commissioner effective Nov. 13, allowing current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to complete the remainder of his term. Republican lawmakers have assailed Koskinen for what they called a slow response to an Obama-era scandal involving the tax agency’s singling out of conservative Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Asia sees surge in new billionaires
The world’s wealthiest individuals are on a roll with billionaires in Asia leading the pack. Billionaire wealth increased 17 percent to $6 trillion in 2016, after a decline the previous year, UBS AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report issued Thursday. Led by China, the number of the region’s billionaires surpassed the U.S. for the first time. But don’t shed a tear for the richest folks in the U.S.: American billionaires still control the most wealth at $2.8 trillion. The gain in total billionaire wealth was twice the 8.5 percent increase of the MSCI AC World Index. Asia’s economic expansion saw, on average, a new billionaire created in the region every other day. Should that pace continue, Asia would overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest concentration of wealth in four years, the Swiss bank and the auditing firm said in an analysis of data from roughly 1,550 billionaires.
Online sales giving Bayer profit pains
Bayer, the 154-year-old creator of aspirin, has been ambushed by a growing force: Online retailers like Amazon.com Inc. The German drugmaker’s consumer-health division is struggling, with profit plummeting 17 percent in the third quarter. A big part of the reason is a shift in the U.S. to online shopping — and discounts — leaving a dwindling number of brick-and-mortar stores to sell Bayer’s products. Erica Mann, the division’s chief, called it the “Amazon effect,” saying buyers are shifting to e-commerce and looking for value. “We continue to see a very rapidly changing retail landscape,” Mann said on a conference call with analysts on Thursday. “We are seeing the number of store closures this year much greater than in 2008-2009, during the financial crisis.”