Legionnaires disease returns to New York, Fox News sets new rules about its upcoming presidential debate, and the nation's GDP grew at a 2.3 percent annual rate. Here are the top news stories for July 30, 2015.
Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits Falls to 42-Year Low
First-time claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending July 18 dropped by 26,000 to 255,000, the lowest level since 1973, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The 4-week moving average, a less volatile number, was 274,750, a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending July 11 was 2,300,027, an increase of 21,802 from the previous week, but down from the 2,618,115 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2014.
Here Are Q2 Numbers
The Commerce Department Thursday reported gross domestic product for the United States grew at 2 3 percent annual rate in the second quarter, thanks to an increase in consumer spending that offset the drag on business spending. The first-quarter GDP, which had been reported to have shrunk at a 0.2 percent pace, was changed to show it rising at a 0.6 percent rate. The first quarter revision came as a result of steps by the government to refine the quarterly measurements to reflect seasonal changes. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, grew at a 2.9 percent annual rate.
Fed Offers No Clues
The Open Market Committee of the U.S. central bank kept its key funds rate near zero Wednesday, and issued no clues in meeting minutes when a rate hike will come. In its notes, the Federal Reserve characterized economic growth as moderate but said inflation indicators remain low. The committee is waiting for inflation to begin to grow before changing the rates. The committee also said fixed investment totals remain low, as do next exports. The Fed did consider recent job gains as “solid”. The Fed can next consider a rate change in September.
Legionnaires Disease Comes Back to New York
The New York City Health Department issued a press release Wednesday saying it is investing a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires Disease, a severe form of pneumonia. Two people in the Bronx have already died as a result of the illness, and 31 new cases have been reported since July 10. Health officials have not yet determined the source of the outbreak. Officials told anyone suffering from fever, cough or chills to seek medical attention. The health department is testing water from cooling towers in the area to see if they can find the source of the virus.
Ten Dollar Update
More than one million responses were received by the United States Treasury when it asked for opinions regarding a new female face on the updated $10 bill. Treasury secretary Jack Lew said Wednesday that his department received tweets, e-mails and hand-written letters discussing the upcoming change. Lew said a decision on which woman will be on the new bill will be announced soon. The bill is being redesigned to make it more difficult to counterfeit. Lew told a breakfast meeting of the Christian Science Monitor Wednesday that Alexandra Hamilton will remain on the bill and will share the space with a woman to be named soon.
The Debate about the Debate
On August 6, Fox Ness will host the first debate of Republican presidential candidates, and Fox News Wednesday announced that it has lowered its rules regarding who will get to participate in the debate. Originally, Fox News said it would allow only candidate receiving at least 1 percent of the votes in national polling, but now the network says it will hold a debate of the 10 candidates at 9 p.m. Eastern time that evening, but will host an earlier debate of all other announced candidates at 5 p.m. As of Wednesday, the top 10 candidates were Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Rick Perry.
Whole Foods Misses Guess
Whole Foods, which is undergoing major changes, reported quarterly earnings and revenue Wednesday that missed analysts’ expectations. The grocery store chain posted third-quarter earnings of 43 cents per share on $3.63 billion in revenue, while Wall Street thought it would have earning equal to 45 cents per share. The company reported comparable store sales increased 1.3 percent in its third quarter, and analysts had expected growth of 2.8 percent. Whole Foods is now dealing with competition from discount grocers expanding their organic offerings, and is in the midst of a new store rollout called “365 by Whole Foods Market” targeting Millennials.