Mixed economic reports drive our roundup of the day's top business news stories.
Small-Business Confidence Improved in April
The National Federation of Independent Business’ small-business optimism index rose 1.7 points in April to 96.9. Of the index’s 10 subindexes, nine increased. In the three months ended in April, small businesses hired, on average, 0.14 worker per firm, "continuing a string of solid readings for 2015" the trade group said. The subindex covering plans to create new jobs grew 1 percentage point to 11 percent in April, while the subindex covering jobs that are hard to fill rose to 27 percent in April from 24 percent. Small businesses historically have accounted for half of private gross domestic product.
U.S. April Budget Surplus at Seven-Year High
Tax payments pushed government receipts to an all-time high in April and left the country with the largest monthly budget surplus in seven years, the Treasury Department announced in its monthly budget report Tuesday. The April surplus totaled $156.7 billion, up from a surplus of $106.9 billion a year earlier. It was the largest surplus since April 2008. Government receipts totaled $471.8 billion, the largest monthly total on record. Receipts for the first seven months of the budget came to an $1.89 trillion, the biggest-ever seven-month total ever. Tax receipts have climbed thanks to an improving economy, which has boosted individual and corporate tax payments.
April U.S. Retail Sales Unchanged
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. retail sales were unchanged in April as households reigned in spending on purchases of big-ticket items such as automobiles. Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services were also unchanged after an unwardly revised 0.5 percent increase in March, CNBC reports. A Bloomberg survey of economists had forecast a 0.2 percent gain in retail sales for April, suggesting that consumers are saving rather than spending the windfall from lower gas prices.
Cablevision Withdraws New York Daily News—Saves $1
Reuters reports exclusively that Cablevision Systems Corp is planning to withdraw from the auction process for the New York Daily News after spending hundreds of hours analyzing a potential deal. Cablevision had bid just $1 for the tabloid newspaper in March. It is now planning to bow out ahead of a second-round bid deadline next week, a source told Reuters on Tuesday. Cablevision owns the Long Island, N.Y.-based newspaper Newsday. New York Daily News is currently losing $30 million a year. Its declining circulation relies heavily on newsstand sales rather than on subscriptions.
Fiat Chrysler Adds to Jeep Recall
Fiat Chrysler is adding almost 69,000 Jeep Cherokees to a recall to fix software that can cause side air bags to inflate without a crash, the Associated Press reports. The addition brings the total number of 2014 and 2015 Cherokees covered by the February recall to nearly 317,000. All but 52,000 are in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. Fiat Chrysler says there have been a small number of inadvertent air bag deployments, mostly in off-road conditions, when the Jeeps' angle of operation changed, causing the system to sense a possible rollover and inflate the air bags.
Take This Job and….
About 2.8 million Americans left their jobs in March, up from 2.7 million the previous month, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. This is the most since April 2008. Analysts consider a large number of job departures to be an encouraging sign of a dynamic labor market in which workers feel confident to leave one job for another. Employers hired 5.1 million workers in March, up from 5 million the previous month, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Hiring increased in retail, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. It declined in construction, manufacturing, and education and health services.