News Archive


Weak consumer spending seen restraining U.S. growth in first quarter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy likely slowed in the first quarter as growth in consumer spending braked sharply, but the setback is expected to be temporary against the backdrop of a tightening labor market and large fiscal stimulus.

FILE PHOTO – A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

Gross domestic product probably increased at a 2.0 percent annual rate, according to a Reuters survey of economists, also held back by a moderation in business spending on equipment as well as a widening of the trade deficit and decline in investment in homebuilding.

Those factors likely offset an increase in inventories. The economy grew at a 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter. The government will publish its snapshot of first-quarter GDP on Friday at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT).

The anticipated tepid first-quarter growth will, however, probably not be a true reflection of the economy, despite the expected weakness in consumer spending. First-quarter GDP tends to be soft because of a seasonal quirk. The labor market is near full employment and both business and consumer confidence are strong.

“I would not lose sleep over first-quarter GDP, there is the residual seasonality issue,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Overall the economy is doing very well and will continue to do well this year and into 2019.”

Economists expect growth will accelerate in the second quarter as households start to feel the impact of the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion income tax package on their paychecks. Lower corporate and individual tax rates as well as increased government spending will likely lift annual economic growth to the administration’s 3 percent target, despite the weak start to the year.

Federal Reserve officials are likely to shrug off weak first-quarter growth. The U.S. central bank raised interest rates last month in a nod to the strong labor market and economy, and forecast at least two rate hikes this year.

Minutes of the March 20-21 meeting published earlier this month showed policymakers “expected that the first-quarter softness would be transitory,” citing “residual seasonality in the data, and more generally to strong economic fundamentals.”

Shoppers ride escalators at the Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles, California November 8, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew/File Photo

LACKLUSTER CONSUMER SPENDING

Economists estimate that growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, braked to below a 1.5 percent rate in the first quarter. That would be the slowest pace in nearly five years and follows the fourth quarter’s robust 4.0 percent growth rate.

Consumer spending in the last quarter was likely held back by delayed tax refunds and impact of tax cuts. Rebuilding and clean-up efforts following hurricanes late last year probably pulled forward spending into the fourth quarter.

“Our new consumer survey found that 37 percent of consumers thought they didn’t get any extra income from the tax cut or did not know what to do with it,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.

“It is possible this means that there is a lag in the consumer response to tax cuts.”

Business spending on equipment is forecast to have slowed after double-digit growth in the second half of 2017. The expected cooling in equipment investment partly reflects a fading boost from a recovery in commodity prices. Economists expect a marginal impact on business spending on equipment from rising interest rates and more expensive raw materials.

“While we do not expect rising rates to crush equipment spending, a slowdown nevertheless appears in store,” said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Higher interest rates will hurt at the margin.”

Investment in homebuilding is forecast to have declined in the first quarter after rebounding in the October-December period. Government spending probably contracted after two straight quarterly increases. Spending is, however, expected to rebound in the second quarter after the U.S. Congress recently approved more government spending.

Trade was likely a drag on GDP growth for a second straight quarter after royalties and broadcast license fees related to the Winter Olympics boosted imports.

With consumer spending slowing, inventories probably accumulated in the first quarter. Inventory investment is expected to have contributed to GDP growth after subtracting 0.53 percentage point in the fourth quarter.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/zkiOfGxuuTQ/weak-consumer-spending-seen-restraining-u-s-growth-in-first-quarter-idUSKBN1HX1Z5

Blackrock Gold nears drilling start in Nevada

The Vancouver-based minnow said this week it was in the process of completing drill permit notification for Silver Cloud in Elko County, to be submitted to the Bureau of Land Management Elko District Office “shortly after” its data review was completed.

“BRC is using the Hollister Mine and Midas Mines geologic models, correlating them to Silver Cloud, to generate drill targets,” the company said.

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“BRC plans to commence it drilling program during the summer of 2018 pending drill permit notification approval.”

Veteran geologist Schifrin said previous drilling by Teck Resources and Placer Dome had produced “high-grade intercepts at Silver Cloud … [that] are very encouraging for continued positive results at this project”.

Silver Cloud, like the nearby Midas and Hollister deposits on the Carlin Trend now owned by Hecla Mining Company, is described as a low-sulphidation epithermal gold-silver banded vein deposit. Silver Cloud is said to have extensive surface mercury-bearing silica sinters, and has had historic mercury mining, but the area has not been extensively or systematically drill tested, according to Blackrock Gold.

Teck’s 10-hole drilling program between 1999 and 2001 had one hole return 1.5m grading 145 grams per tonne and another 22.8m of 5.67gpt “in proximity to the historic Silver Cloud mine area”. Placer Dome subsequently hit 12m of 5.53gpt gold in the Northwest Canyon area, about 2km west of the Silver Cloud mine, in a limited program.

“The hot spring sinters at Silver Cloud are massive and extensive and very similar in characteristics to the Hollister Mine right next door,” he said.

The data review and 3D modelling of historic drill data would help in the location of drill targets.

Silver Cloud is 8km west of Hollister, which has about 280,000oz of current resources and is expected to produce 30,000-35,000oz of gold in 2018. Midas, 20km to the north, has a measured and indicated resource of 1.11 million tonnes grading 12.9g/t gold (419,000oz) and inferred 0.67Mt of 10.4g/t gold (203,000oz). New owner Hecla Mining Company is forecasting annual production of 45,000-50,000oz.

 

Article source: http://www.mining-journal.com/discovery/news/1337032/blackrock-gold-nears-drilling-start-in-nevada

Amazon surprises Wall Street with huge profits, optimistic outlook

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) march in retail and cloud computing showed no sign of slowing on Thursday, as the company reported a surge in first-quarter profit and a rosy outlook for the spring, surprising all but the most optimistic on Wall Street.

The world’s largest online retailer also announced it was increasing the price of an annual U.S. Prime membership to $119 from $99 starting May 11 for new members and June 16 for renewing members.

In addition, Amazon and the U.S. National Football League announced a deal to stream Thursday night games during the 2018 and 2019 seasons on Amazon’s Prime Video.

Amazon’s shares rose 6 percent in after-hours trade.

Seattle-based Amazon is winning business from older, big box rivals by delivering virtually any product to customers at a low cost, and at times faster than it takes to buy goods from a physical store. It acquired Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion last year to help it send groceries to shoppers’ doorsteps.

Amazon’s results bucked expectations that it would plow more profit into investments, as it has done in the past. Amazon said net income rose to $1.6 billion, or $3.27 per share in the quarter ended March 31. Analysts on average were expecting $1.26 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 43 percent to $51.0 billion in the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of $49.8 billion.

The fast ascent of Amazon and its Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, now the richest person in the world, has drawn the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump. Writing critical Twitter posts about Amazon and the Washington Post, which Bezos privately owns, Trump has claimed without evidence that Amazon has not paid enough money to the U.S. Postal Service to cover delivery costs.

Success is “the best revenge that Bezos can get against the administration for its veiled threats about sales taxes and not paying its fair share,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Prime, Amazon’s loyalty club that includes fast shipping, video streaming and other benefits, has been key to the jump in revenue. Members – now more than 100 million globally – spend above average on Amazon.

In addition to announcing an increase in the price of yearly Prime memberships, Amazon previously increased fees for U.S. Prime members on month-to-month plans, affecting some 30 percent of subscribers by Cowen Co’s estimate. Sales from Prime fees and other subscriptions grew 60 percent to $3.1 billion.

“We still feel it’s the best deal in retail,” Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer told a conference call, adding the number of items eligible for free two-day shipping increased in recent years from 20 million to more than 100 million.

Revenue from third-party sellers paying to promote their products on Amazon.com was an unusually large bright spot during the quarter. Advertising and “Other” sales, including from co-branded credit cards, grew 139 percent to $2.03 billion.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company’s office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

“The significant acceleration in Other revenues suggests Amazon’s advertising ambitions continue to ramp quickly, and is now large enough to drive upside in Amazon’s margin profile,” said Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian in a note.

Amazon said it expects operating profit this quarter between $1.1 billion and $1.9 billion, up from $628 million a year earlier. Analysts were expecting $1.01 billion, according to analytics firm FactSet.

BIG SPENDER

Amazon’s stock has outperformed the SP 500 .SPX, rising 30 percent this year as of Thursday’s market close, compared with the SP’s less than 1 percent decline.

Its shares trade at a premium to many peers. The stock’s price-to-earnings ratio is more than 11 times that of cloud-computing rival Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

Amazon Web Services (AWS), which handles data and computing for large enterprises in the cloud, saw its profit margin expand in the quarter. It posted a 49 percent rise in sales from a year earlier to $5.44 billion, beating the average estimate of $5.25 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“That business continues to grow very well and has seen great customer adoption,” said Amazon’s Olsavsky on a call with reporters.

He added that costs related to data centers, fulfillment centers and other investments “scale really well when we have high-volume quarters” like the one Amazon reported.

The company has been notorious for running on a low profit margin. Yet its big bets on new services and entry into new industries have reaped shareholders rewards over the past decade.

Amazon continues to invest in a wide array of areas. The company plans to spend more on video content this year, including its renewed deal to stream Thursday Night Football games and a prequel television series to “The Lord of the Rings” in the works. Wedbush’s Pachter estimated that content spending will be $6 billion or more this year, up from $5 billion in 2017.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase Co (JPM.N) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) to determine how to cut health costs for hundreds of thousands of their employees.

And Amazon is expanding its retail footprint outside the United States, particularly in India. Its international operating loss grew 29 percent to $622 million in the first quarter.

Amazon’s global headcount is up 60 percent from a year ago at 563,100 full-time and part-time employees, thanks to a hiring spree and an influx of workers from Whole Foods Market.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Lisa Shumaker

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/V0pJSeT7KIo/amazon-surprises-wall-street-with-huge-profits-optimistic-outlook-idUSKBN1HX3A3

Starbucks’ promotions struggle to attract U.S. customers, shares slip

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) on Thursday reported stagnant store traffic at established U.S. cafes for the second quarter in a row, stirring concerns about intense competition from upscale coffee houses as well as fast-food chains and convenience stores.

FILE PHOTO: A Starbucks store is seen inside the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Shares in the world’s biggest coffee chain fell 1.9 percent in extended hours after stepped-up promotions failed to lure more U.S. customers, who drive the lion’s share of Starbucks profits.

Same-store sales for the U.S.-dominated Americas region rose 2 percent for the second quarter ended April 1. Increased spending per visit drove the same-store sales rise since customer visits, referred to as traffic, were flat.

Starbucks’ home market of the United States is its largest, with more than 14,000 stores. During the quarter, U.S. cafes offered 15 percent off new blonde espresso drinks and half-price espresso drinks during afternoon Happy Hour.

But China is Starbucks’ biggest growth driver. Same-store sales in that 3,200-store market were up 4 percent in the second quarter, versus gains of 6 percent and 8 percent in the two prior periods. Executives attributed the softer results in the latest quarter to a shift in the timing of Lunar New Year. They said business remains strong, but declined to give traffic results.

Starbucks’ global traffic was down 1 percent for the quarter, with the Europe, Middle East and Africa region falling 4 percent.

Total revenue rose almost 14 percent to $6.0 billion.

Starbucks’ quarterly net income was $660 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with $653 million, or 45 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding items, profit of 53 cents a share matched expectations.

The company said its board authorized buying back 100 million shares, which is worth more than $5 billion at current prices.

The results come as Starbucks is working to limit or avoid reputational damage from the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia cafe two weeks ago. A bystander video of the incident went viral, fueling protests and calls to boycott the chain.

Starbucks apologized for the incident, which was set in motion when a manager called police to report the two men who were waiting for a friend and had not made purchases. It plans to close 8,000 company-owned cafes on the afternoon of May 29 for racial tolerance training.

Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said on a post-earnings call that the incident has not had an impact on U.S. same-store sales.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Rosalba O’Brien

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/JvrcpjrtbQU/starbucks-promotions-struggle-to-attract-u-s-customers-shares-slip-idUSKBN1HX3BH

Exclusive: T-Mobile, Sprint make progress in talks, aim for deal next week

(Reuters) – U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) and Sprint Corp (S.N) have made progress in negotiating merger terms and are aiming to successfully complete deal talks as early as next week, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of U.S. mobile network operator Sprint Corp is seen at a Sprint store in San Marcos, California August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The combined company would have more than 127 million customers and could create more formidable competition for the No.1 and No.2 wireless players, Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and ATT Inc (T.N), amid a race to expand offerings in 5G, the next generation of wireless technology.

T-Mobile majority-owner Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T), which controls Sprint, are considering an agreement that would dictate how they exercise voting control over the combined company, two of the sources said.

This could allow Deutsche Telekom to consolidate the combined company on its books, even without owning a majority stake, the sources added. Deutsche Telekom owns more than 63 percent of T-Mobile, while SoftBank owns 84.7 percent of Sprint.

Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile are also in the process of finalizing the debt financing package they will use to fund the deal, the sources said.

A T-Mobile logo is advertised on a building sign in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

There is no certainty that a deal will be reached, the sources cautioned. The companies came close to a merger agreement in November before SoftBank’s chief executive officer, Masayoshi Son, pulled out of the talks at the last minute.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Sprint, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sprint and T-Mobile have market capitalizations of $24 billion and $55 billion, respectively. Sprint shares rose 9 percent in afterhours trading in New York, while T-Mobile shares were up 4 percent.

When the previous round of talks between the companies ended in November over valuation disagreements, Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Officer Tim Hoettges left the door open by saying: “You always meet twice in life.”

Failure to clinch a deal had left SoftBank’s Son, a dealmaker who raised close to $100 billion for his Vision Fund to invest in technology companies, in search of other options for Sprint.

SoftBank has been looking to trim its debt, which reached 15.8 trillion yen ($147 billion) as of the end of December. It has said it is planning to raise cash by taking its Japanese mobile phone unit public this year.

Even though Sprint’s customer base has expanded under CEO Marcelo Claure, growth has been driven by discounting. Analysts have said that without T-Mobile, Sprint lacks the scale needed to invest in its network and to compete in a saturated market.

T-Mobile, under its Chief Executive Officer John Legere, has fared better than Sprint, even if it remains a distant third to Verizon and ATT. It has managed to score sustained market share gains, as innovative offerings, improving network performance and good customer service attract new customers, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.

T-Mobile became the first major U.S. carrier to eliminate two-year contracts, a shift quickly embraced by consumers and copied by competitors. The company has also unsettled rivals with its unlimited data plans.

Another roadblock to the deal could be regulatory hurdles. Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s first round of merger talks ended in 2014 after U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration expressed antitrust concerns about the deal.

It is not clear how the Trump administration would view the combination. ATT agreed to acquire U.S. media company Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) in October 2016 for $85 billion. The U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block the deal over concerns about the companies’ pricing power in the media market. ATT and Time Warner are currently defending their deal in court.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Liana B. Baker in New York and Pamela Barbaglia in London; Additional reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York and Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt; Editing by Leslie Adler and Tom Brown

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/CQpiW25ry_Y/exclusive-t-mobile-sprint-make-progress-in-talks-aim-for-deal-next-week-sources-idUSKBN1HX3G6

Wall Street much quicker to applaud Facebook than criticize it

(Reuters) – A month of darkening sentiment around Facebook Inc (FB.O) among analysts was washed away in an instant when the social media’s earnings report blew through even the most optimistic earnings estimates.

Figurines are seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration taken March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

The response was classic Wall Street, where the traditional tendency has been to be far quicker with praise than with criticism.

Less than 24 hours after the earnings release late on Wednesday, roughly a quarter of the 45 analysts covering the stock had by Thursday raised their price targets, including at least five brokerages that cut their views after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke last month.

Facebook’s shares, meanwhile, surged 9.1 percent on Thursday to $174.16, their highest in a month. The stock still had nearly 6 percent to climb to erase all its losses related to the matter.

With the ebullient reaction, the average price target on Facebook shares rose $2.21 on Thursday to $218.27, according to Thomson Reuters data, its highest in three weeks and about 20 percent above the latest price.

By contrast it took three weeks for the mean price target to drop from its pre-scandal high of $222.81, as the same number of analysts cut their targets one or two at a time as it slowly sunk in that the imbroglio would not pass quickly.

Notably, even as analysts trimmed their estimates for how high the shares could rise while the Cambridge Analytica story dominated the news for weeks, most held firm in their overall positive opinion of the stock.

The mean rating on Facebook’s shares has stayed “buy,” with 41 analysts rating the stock “strong buy” or “buy,” two “hold” and 2 “sell” or “strong sell.”

Morgan Stanley was among those raising its target on the stock on Thursday, to $210 from $200. Three weeks earlier it had cut it from $230. The brokerage said Facebook was investing to improve not only its core ad business but also its safety and security measures.

“These investments plant the seeds for Facebook to continue to grow its user base, engagement, and monetization for the next 3-5 years,” said Brian Nowak, who rates the stock “overweight.”

But not all analysts who soured on the stock recently found enough cheer in the results to alter their forecast on the stock’s trajectory.

Among them was Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser – the top rated Facebook analyst for his recommendation accuracy, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

“Broader concerns about the business and stock remain, and we maintain our $138 price target along with our Sell recommendation on the stock.”

Reporting by Savio D’Souza in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Burns and Cynthia Osterman

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/NdoXOmGmqu0/wall-street-much-quicker-to-applaud-facebook-than-criticize-it-idUSKBN1HX3H8

Wall Street gains on strong earnings, tech resurgence

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday with each of Wall Street’s major indexes ending the session up 1 percent or higher, boosted by solid earnings results and a rebound in technology stocks as U.S. bond yields pulled back.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq snapped a five-day losing streak while the SP technology index booked its first up day in six sessions.

Facebook surged 9.1 percent after posting an impressive earnings beat, which appeared to calm worries about the fallout from its use of consumer data.

Chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Qualcomm Inc rose 13.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, after quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates and alleviated worries over softening smartphone demand.

Their advances helped lift the Philadelphia Semiconductor index 2.1 percent, breaking its six-day losing streak and at the close of its best day in three weeks.

“Earnings continue to be better than expected and you have many of the geopolitical concerns like trade wars put on the back burner temporarily. And the commentary has been good,” said Channing Smith, managing principal at Jackson Hole Capital Partners in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“It’s a tug-of-war market where you’ve concerns about the 10-year (Treasury bond) yield rising and inflation expectations rising and geopolitical concerns and the tariff concerns against the best earnings we’ve seen in years,” said Smith.

The yield on U.S. 10-year Treasuries closed below the 3 percent level as buyers emerged following a sell-off fueled by worries over growing U.S. debt issuance and rising costs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 238.51 points, or 0.99 percent, to 24,322.34, the SP 500 gained 27.54 points, or 1.04 percent, to 2,666.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 114.94 points, or 1.64 percent, to 7,118.68.

So far, 45 percent of SP 500 companies have reported first-quarter earnings, with 79.7 percent beating consensus estimates. Analysts see 23.1 percent earnings growth for the quarter, based on a blend of actual and estimated results.

Amazon.com Inc shares jumped more than 6 percent in after-market trading after the online retailer reported a 43 percent surge in first-quarter revenue.

General Motors Co edged up 0.4 percent after the automaker reported a production drop of its high-margin pickup trucks, despite posting higher-than-expected profit.

United Parcel Service Inc shares rose 4.3 percent after the world’s largest package delivery company defied cost and weather headwinds to post higher first-quarter profit and strong volumes.

Visa Inc also helped lift the tech sector, advancing 4.8 percent following the payments network’s better-than-expected profit and earnings forecast raise.

ATT Inc shares slumped 6.0 percent. It reported a loss of subscribers from its pay TV business.

Union Pacific Corp shares fell 2.9 percent. The No. 1 U.S. railroad operator cautioned on a key operating metric, helping send the Dow Jones Transportation Average down 0.9 percent.

In economic news, new orders for durable goods unexpectedly dropped in March as demand for machinery registered its biggest decline in more than two years, according to the Commerce Department. However, the Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment fell to their lowest level since 1969, suggesting the labor market is at or near full employment.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.26-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.06-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.74 billion shares, compared with the 6.67 billion-share average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/W_XDkHqSR8I/wall-street-gains-on-strong-earnings-tech-resurgence-idUSKBN1HX1Q4

Toyota to invest $170 million in Mississippi plant, create 400 jobs

DETROIT (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will invest $170 million in an existing plant in Mississippi to build the next generation of its Corolla sedan, the Japanese automaker said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The Toyota logo is shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The investment will lead to the creation of 400 jobs over the next 12 months at Toyota’s Blue Springs, Mississippi, plant.

Toyota said the investment will include replacing the current production lines, allowing the facility “to produce advanced vehicles more efficiently and better adapt to changing market needs.”

The move is part of a commitment made by the automaker in 2017 to spend $10 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations over the next five years.

Unlike U.S. automakers General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) – which are pulling back from passenger cars as American consumers abandon them in favor of higher-margin, more comfortable pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers – Toyota, Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) and Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) have all invested heavily in all-new versions of their sedan models.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Matthew Lewis

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/7Vnd3luU1ME/toyota-to-invest-170-million-in-mississippi-plant-create-400-jobs-idUSKBN1HX3FS

Microsoft tops estimates as Azure, Office products drive gains

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) on Thursday topped Wall Street forecasts for quarterly profit as the technology company signed up more businesses to its Azure cloud computing services and Office 365 productivity suite.

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft logo is pictured at a service centre in New Delhi, India, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal/File Photo

Much of Microsoft’s recent growth has been fueled by its cloud computing business as more enterprises seek to cut data storage costs by adopting cloud-based software and moving their applications to data centers.

The company’s flagship cloud product Azure, which competes with Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) dominant cloud infrastructure offering Amazon Web Services (AWS), recorded revenue growth of 93 percent in the third quarter ended March 31.

“Microsoft on the heels of Azure is gaining further steam in this massive secular cloud shift, and the results speak to that,” said Daniel Ives at research firm GBH Insights.

Azure’s growth has propelled Microsoft to the No. 2 position in the $15.6 billion cloud computing market with a 14 percent share, behind AWS’s 32 percent, research firm Canalys estimated in February.

Microsoft shares, which are up almost 40 percent over the past year, rose slightly after closing 2.1 percent higher at $94.26.

Revenue at Microsoft’s productivity and business processes unit, which includes Office 365, rose 17 percent to $9 billion, topping analysts’ average expectation of $8.73 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue for Microsoft’s More Personal Computing unit rose 13 percent to $9.9 billion, including a 32 percent increase for its Surface business.

Kristin Chester, senior finance manager of Microsoft investor relations, said the growth was “better than expected” and stemmed from the business’s evolving product portfolio.

Microsoft “refocused its efforts and catered to a productivity audience with a Surface that is both a tablet and a PC,” said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleas Research. “Apple is still playing catch up to that.”

Overall, the Redmond, Washington-based software maker’s revenue rose 16 percent to $26.82 billion, ahead of expectations of $25.77 billion.

Net income rose to $7.42 billion, or 95 cents per share, from $5.49 billion or 70 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected earnings of 85 cents per share.

Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez in San Francisco and Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Richard Chang

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