In the first quarter, the U.S. government estimated that the economy grew 0.6 percent, slightly beating predictions. The economy was “saved only by an increase in business inventories and exports, as the labour market weakened, the real estate market slumped and consumers cut back on spending,” according to the Financial Times.
The Federal Reserve cut the interest rate for the seventh time since September today, lowering it one-quarter percentage point. “Barring an unforeseen collapse in the economy or financial markets, rates will probably stay where they are for several months at least, though the Fed left the door open to more cuts if needed,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
USA Today says that federal, state, and local government jobs are increasing faster than in the past six years, adding “76,800 jobs in the first three months of 2008,” while the private sector dropped “286,000 workers in the first three months of 2008.”
Hollywood may profit this summer with the bad economy, as it usually seems to do when the country is struggling financially. “Attendance actually increased during three of the last four recessions,” reports the Los Angeles Times, and “The movies-cure-all-ills formula seems to favor big-budget ‘event’ films.”
The increasing price and diminishing supply of fertilizer in certain countries has put the all-important farming tool at risk. “That is one of many factors contributing to a rise in food prices that, according to the United Nations’ World Food Program, threatens to push tens of millions of poor people into malnutrition,” according to The New York Times.
General Motors Corp. announced a first-quarter net loss of $3.25 billion on Wednesday, “due to a costly supplier strike, waning demand for its most profitable vehicles and charges related to struggling former subsidiaries,” Reuters reports.
Time Warner will split off a cable division, after it reported "a 36% drop in first-quarter net income as the media conglomerate announced plans to give its 84% stake in Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWX) to shareholders,” the Dow Jones Newswires report.
European stocks and U.S. futures fell today, and “SAP, the world's biggest maker of business-management software, sank the most in three months after profit tumbled 22 percent in the first quarter because of acquisition costs and the stronger euro,” reports Bloomberg.com.
Lowe’s is eyeing a plot in the Everglades for potential development.
“Hawai'i's economy, reeling from the loss of thousands of jobs with the demise of Aloha Airlines' passenger service, the closure of Molokai Ranch and NCL America's decision to pull out two of its ships, now faces the loss of a vital transportation link with the shutdown of Aloha's cargo operations,” The Honolulu Advertiser.