Trade deficit grows slightly in May
The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in May, reflecting declines in sales of American-made aircraft and machinery as exports continued to suffer from a strong dollar. The deficit increased 2.9 percent to $41.9 billion in May, up from an April imbalance of $40.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Imports fell 0.1 percent to $230.5 billion. Exports slid at a faster pace of 0.8 percent to $188.6 billion. American producers have been hurt this year by a rising value of the dollar, which makes U.S. goods less competitive in overseas markets. Analysts believe that a narrowing of the trade deficit in the April-June period will be a major factor in reviving overall growth. They forecast a rebound to an annual growth rate of around 2.5 percent, as measured by the gross domestic product, in the second quarter.
Corzine agrees to settle investor suit
Jon S. Corzine, the former chief executive of MF Global Holdings Ltd., and other former officials of the failed brokerage agreed to pay $64.5 million to settle an investor lawsuit in the latest unwinding of litigation against the failed brokerage. The settlement follows an earlier resolution with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which agreed in April to pay $65 million to rid itself of claims tied to botched audits of the failed brokerage. Underwriters including Citigroup Global Markets, Deutsche Bank Securities and Goldman Sachs agreed to pay investors $74 million. That settlement was approved by a judge on June 26.
Business travel continues to climb
U.S. business travel spending is expected to increase 4.9 percent this year, to $302.7 billion, but concerns about the U.S. economy likely will dampen what could be even more growth, according to the Global Business Travel Association and Visa. "U.S. business travel was poised for significant growth in 2015, but the erratic performance of key economic drivers caused some to tap the brakes on additional travel spending," said Michael W. McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association. Since hitting a low in 2009, global business travel spending has increased 38 percent.
Canada reiterates support of TPP trade deal
The Canadian government is reiterating its support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, with Finance Minister Joe Oliver saying increased trade and investment will benefit the economy. His comments come as TPP talks heat up amid questions over what changes Canada is willing to make to its protected sectors in order to strike a deal. Canada has "come a long way from the free trade boogeyman" era of the 1980s, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated, Oliver said according to remarks prepared for a speech Tuesday in Vancouver. The TPP deal "will unlock the Pacific powerhouse" and create jobs in Canada, he said.
It's showtime for Showtime
The premium cable network's digital-only service went live Tuesday morning across a handful of distribution partners — Apple, Roku, Hulu and PlayStation Vue. The new service, priced at $10.99 a month, allows broadband Internet users on-demand access to the premium cable channel's roster of programming without a TV subscription. It costs a few dollars less than the $14.99 broadband users pay for HBO's streaming service called HBO Now. Showtime's service, unlike HBO's, includes live-streaming options for its East and West Coast feeds.
Facebook clearly likes Fort Worth
Facebook executives joined Fort Worth and Texas state officials to turn dirt on a mega-data center where servers will process news feeds from 1.5 billion users around the world. The groundbreaking culminated a yearlong vetting process that took Fort Worth from being a candidate among 220 cities to four finalists. The first of three 250,000-square-foot buildings is expected to be up and running by the end of 2016. Facebook's investment in Fort Worth could reach $1 billion.