Trade deficit falls to lowest in five months
The U.S. trade deficit fell in July to the lowest level in five months as exports posted a small gain while imports declined, reflecting a big drop in shipments of consumer goods such as cellphones. The deficit narrowed to $41.9 billion in July, a 7.4 percent decline from a June imbalance of $45.2 billion, the Commerce Department reported. Exports were up a small 0.4 percent to $188.5 billion, helped by stronger sales of U.S.-made autos and machinery, while imports declined 1.1 percent to $230.4 billion. So far this year, the deficit is running 3.6 percent above last year's level, reflecting weaker export sales. The concern is that U.S. growth will be hurt by further declines in exports, reflecting a stronger dollar and overseas weakness in nations such as China. The July trade report showed that America's deficit with China rose 0.4 percent in July to $31.6 billion, the highest level in nine months.
Southwest, pilots reach tentative deal
Southwest Airlines said it has reached an agreement with union negotiators on terms for a new contract with pilots, whose approval would be needed before it takes effect. Terms weren't disclosed. Leaders of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association are expected to meet later this month to decide whether to hold a ratification vote. Southwest Vice President Craig Drew said that the process is far from complete but that the company is pleased to have this agreement. Southwest has about 8,000 pilots. It's the nation's fourth-biggest airline, and 83 percent of its workers are represented by unions, according to a recent regulatory filing.
Draghi: Eurozone ready to boost stimulus
The European Central Bank is ready to give the eurozone economy a bigger dose of stimulus if turmoil in China and weaker global growth hurt its modest recovery, President Mario Draghi said. Market volatility, concern over a looming U.S. interest rate increase and a drop in oil prices have spawned uncertainty over the global economy, leading the ECB to cut its inflation and growth forecasts for the eurozone. Draghi said the ECB can add to its $1.2 trillion program, if the 19-country currency bloc needs it. "We expect the economic recovery to continue, albeit at a somewhat weaker pace than earlier expected," Draghi said.
Growth in service sector remains strong
U.S. services companies expanded at a healthy pace in August, lifted by robust consumer spending resulting from steady job gains. The Institute for Supply Management said its services index slipped to 59 from 60.3 in the previous month. July's reading was the highest since August 2005, and any reading over 50 indicates expansion. The index remains at a high level despite the decline and suggests that Americans have been spending freely at retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other firms that make up the index. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ 90 percent of workers, including construction firms and financial services.
Mortgage rates climb after last week's drop
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week after a sharp drop the previous week, as global markets continued to whipsaw amid economic disruption in China and uncertainty over Federal Reserve interest-rate policy. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.89 percent from 3.84 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 3.09 percent from 3.06 percent. The rates remain well below their levels of a year ago, when the 30-year loan rate was 4.10 percent and the 15-year rate was 3.24 percent.
Johnsonville recalls cheese, bacon product
Johnsonville Sausage says its Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Grillers are being recalled because the product may contain metal fragments. "This product was manufactured in our partner facility, Kenosha Beef International LLC, and was shipped to retail locations in 11 states: Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Texas," Wisconsin-based Johnsonville said in a statement announcing the recall. There have been four incidents reported, with no illnesses or injuries occurring as a result of eating the product, the company said. The recall involves six-count cartons of quarter-pound Johnsonville Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Grillers, with a "Best Flavor By" date of 12-29-2015 and an establishment number of "EST425B."
Google plans stand-alone Street View app
Google is retiring its Photo Sphere Camera app on iOS and the Street View feature from the Google Maps app on Android in favor of a new app for both operating systems: the Street View app. The tech giant said the stand-alone app will let people explore collections of 360-degree panorama photos of locations (both interior and exterior), and make their own contributions to public photo galleries. Users can snap 360-degree "spherical" photos directly from their Android phone or iPhone, or use a dedicated 360-degree camera such as the Ricoh Theta S or NCTech iris360. They can then geotag the images and upload them directly to Google Maps. Other users can then view those images.