Tesla launches new energy brand, consumer spending is up, and Greece is signalling concessions. Read about these and more of the day's top business news stories.
Tesla Powers the World
Late Thursday Tesla launched its new Tesla Energy brand with a line of solar powered batteries to be used in the home, office or for utilities. Company founder and CEO \Elon Musk said at a press conference “the obvious problem with solar power is that the sun doesn’t shine at night. We need to store the energy to use at night.” Musk then said the current solar batteries available “suck.” The new Powerwall home battery is priced at $3,000 to $3,000 for installers with deliveries to be available in three to four months. Tesla plans to build the battery packs at its $5 billion Gigafactory just outside of Reno, Nevada.
Is the Economy Heating Up?
U.S. consumer spending increased 0.4 percent in March, the strongest gain since a similar increase in November, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Consumer spending had shown signs of life in February, gaining 0.2 percent, after it had fallen in December and January. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. This report, combined with other reports Thursday that showed rising wages and a 15-year-low in initial claims for unemployment benefits, suggest the economy is gaining momentum, the Associated Press reports. Consumers, encouraged by warmer weather, pushed up sales of autos, furniture, clothing and building materials during the month. With spending outpacing income growth in March, the saving rate declined to 5.3 percent of after-tax income, down from 5.7 percent in February.
Greece Signals Concessions
Reuters reports that Greece’s government has signaled the biggest concessions so far in its continuing talks with lenders on a cash-for-reforms package that started in earnest on Thursday. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's three-month-old government is under heavy pressure at home and abroad to reach an agreement with European and IMF lenders to avert a national bankruptcy.. A new poll showed over three-quarters of Greeks feel Athens must strike a deal at any cost to stay in the euro. Greece wants an interim deal by next week, hoping this will allow the ECB to ease liquidity restrictions before a 750 million euro payment to the IMF falls due on May 12. Athens has suggested it will struggle to pay the installment. But first, it also has to repay a less problematic 200 million euros to the IMF by May 6. An expanded team of Greek negotiators began talks with the so-called Brussels Group representing the euro zone, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank to discuss which reforms Greece will turn into legislation rapidly in exchange for aid. Talks are expected to continue through the May Day holiday weekend until Sunday, with Tsipras willing to step in to speed things up if necessary, a Greek official told Reuters.
Feds to Provide Body Cameras
The Department of Justice Friday said it is setting up a $20 million pilot program to increase the use of police body cameras for “transparency”. A string of recent cases, including the spinal injury of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, have prompted calls for all authorities to be visible for their actions with suspects. “Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve," new Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press release.
Good News for Chevron
Chevron’s quarterly earnings and revenue report came in well above analysts’ expectations, the company said Friday. The oil and natural gas producer reported a net income of $2.57 billion or $1.37 per share, compared to $4.51 billion one year ago. But it suffered a 43 percent drop in profit due to low oil prices, revenue falling to $34.56 billion from $53.27 billion one year ago. Analysts expected the company to have only $24.37 billion in revenue and earnings per share of 79 cents. The company said production grew 4 percent during the quarter.
Tea Mobile: Wendy’s Brewing Up New Organic Menu Item
Wendy's, the nation's No. 3 burger chain, is about to add organic tea to its permanent menu, USA TODAY reports. Honest Tropical Green Tea, an exclusive brew from the Honest Tea company, which is owned by Coca-Cola, begins rolling out nationally this week. While a conventional, 20-ounce glass of Sweet Tea or Unsweet Tea sells for $1.39 at Wendy's, the same-size glass of Honest Tropical Green Tea will go for $1.69. This development is seen as a major mainstream boost for the organic food movement. The movie is seen as a bid to attract Millennials, who are looking for fresher, healthier fast food alternatives.