Monday Moneybeat

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, April 16th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

One more week like this and all the major Wall Street market indexes will be positive year-to-date.

The Dow, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, and the Russell 2000 all enjoyed gains last week.

The week also marked the beginning of earnings season. That’s where companies report their financial performance for the first quarter of the year.

In the days to come, you can expect numerous publicly traded companies to post their earnings and economists expect good reports.

Last week, the big banks all went first. Three of America’s biggest ones reported higher profits, thanks in large part to the tax law passed last year.

JPMorgan’s quarterly profit set a record high, and Citigroup and Wells Fargo all beat analyst expectations.

REICHARD: So for the week, here are the numbers, all in the positive column.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index gained 2 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average just shy of 2, at 1.8 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the index of smaller-company stocks, the Russell 2000, both added to their net-positive year so far. The Nasdaq posted a healthy 2.8 percent gain and the Russell 2000 up 2.4 percent.

EICHER: President Trump is demanding a restructuring of the United States Postal Service. Without it, the USPS is on course to require a taxpayer-funded bailout. For more than a decade, it’s lost money every year: to the point now where it’s $65 billion in the red. The president has assembled a task force to probe the post office’s finances and costs, and it has four months to report back. Lately, the president has been critical of the postal service deal with online retailer Amazon that he thinks is too cozy. Trump believes Amazon ought to pay more for package delivery.

REICHARD: Interest rates may be headed up even faster. The Federal Reserve is the central banker with the power to set those rates. And at the Fed’s last meeting last month, officials suggested the economy is so strong it may provoke inflation. So the Fed might accelerate the pace of interest-rate hikes to keep inflation in check. Throughout the previous presidency, the Fed kept interest rates at near zero to try to stimulate the economy. Now, with lower taxes and fewer regulations, the biggest economic risk is inflation. But analysts say the prospect of higher rates is still down the road. Many still expect three rate increases of a quarter point each this year.

EICHER: And that’s this week’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew) The Wall Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. 

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