The consumer price index and housing starts reports top our roundup of the day's top business news stories.
Consumer Prices Rose for Fifth Straight Month
Rising gasoline prices drove a modest increase in inflation in June, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The consumer price index rose 0.3 percent last month. Prices at the pump rose 3.4 percent in June on top of a 10.4 percent increase in May. An outbreak of avian flu drove egg prices up 18.3 percent in June, but overall food prices rose just 0.3 percent. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation rose 0.2 percent last month.
Overall consumer prices rose just 0.1 percent the past year, while core prices are up 1.8 percent. Gasoline prices are down 23.3 percent over the last year.
Judge Derides Uber
Everyone’s a backseat driver. Uber, the ride-sharing service plagued by problems with regulators, drivers and taxi unions around the world, has been hit with an administrative judge’s recommendation that it be fined $7.3 million and be suspended from operating in California. In her decision, Karen V. Clopton of the California Public Utilities Commission contends that Uber has not complied with state laws designed to ensure that drivers are doling out rides fairly to all passengers, the Los Angeles Times reports. She said that Uber’s months-long refusal to proide such data is in violation of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing firms. Uber said it would appeal. In other Uber news, Certify, an expense management system provider, announced Thursday that Uber made up 55 percent of ground transportation receipts for corporate travelers in the second quarter of 2015, marking the first time the ride-sharing service topped taxi service for corporate travel use. Taxis received 43 percent of the ground transportation receipts in the period.
U.S. Mortgage Rates Reach Seven-Month High
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased this week from 4.04 percent to 4.09 percent. The new level is the highest since last October, the Associated Press reports. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.25 percent from 3.20 percent. That matched its high for the year set last month. The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages increased to 2.96 percent from 2.93 percent; the fee rose to 0.5 point from 0.4 point. The average rate on one-year ARMs was unchanged at 2.50 percent; the fee remained at 0.3 point.
Housing Starts Climb Nearly 10 Percent
U.S. builders broke ground on apartment complexes last month at the fastest pace in nearly 28 years, as developers anticipate that recent jobs gains will launch a wave of renters, the Associated Press reports. June housing starts climbed 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million homes, the Commerce Department said Friday. All of that growth came from a 28.6 percent surge in multi-family housing that put apartment construction at its highest rate since November 1987. Starts for single-family houses slipped 0.9 percent last month.
“Prime Day” to be Annual Event
Despite customer complaints, Amzon proclaimed its inaugural Prime Day to be a success and announced it would be an annual event. The 24-hour sales event for members of Amazon Prime, the expedited shipping and discounts program, was criticized by many who were unhappy with the discounts offered, the selection of items and the fact that they had to be put on a waitlist for items that had sold out, Forbes reports. At one point, the social media hashtag #PrimeDayFail trended above the #PrimeDay hashtag. Amazon promoted Wednesday's sale, which was tied to the site's 20th anniversary, for weeks. The company reported Thursday that in the U.S. and nine countries around the world that offer the Prime program, shoppers ordered 398 items per second, surpassing the rate of ordering on Black Friday.
Google Thursday reported a quarterly profit that easily exceeded analysts’ expectations thanks to growth in advertising revenue. The second quarter earnings were $6.99 per share on $17.73 billion in revenue, up from $15.96 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $6.70 per share. Revenue increased 11 percent year over year, although Google cited the negative effects from the strong U.S. dollar as holding down sales. Operating expenses for Google as a percentage of revenue increased to 36 percent from 35 percent one year ago.
Guilty in Colorado
Jurors in the three-month trial of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes determined that Holmes is guilty of murder and attempted murder. A date for sentencing has not yet been set. Holmes had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but it took the jury only 13 hours to determine that he was sane and convicted him of murder. The verdict came almost two years after the July 20, 2012 shooting that killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Holmes could be sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death.