The U.S. House passes a budget, and an early American coin sells for more than $1 million at auction. More news for investors for March 27, 2015.
Gross Domestic Product Remains Low
The Commerce Department Friday said gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the same as the estimate from last month. That rate is well below the 5 percent rate of growth in the third quarter of last year. The government also reported that after-tax corporate profits fell at a 1.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter due in part to the strong dollar negatively affecting the bottom line of multinational corporations. For all of 2014, profits dropped 8.3 percent, the largest annual drop since 2008. Analysts believe the low growth numbers in the GDP and corporate profits could cause the Federal Reserve to delay its decision to raise interest rates in early summer.
GameStop Issues Poor Forecast
GameStop, the world’s largest retailer of video game products, issued a weaker-than-expected forecast for the full year, claiming demand for the new PlayStation4 and Xbox One consoles are matching falling sales from the earlier versions of those consoles. GameStop’s new video game hardware sales fell 30.2 percent to $808.8 million in the fourth quarter ending January 31, the company announced. Analysts had expected sales of $844.8 million in that period. GameStop said it believes the strong dollar will have a negative impact of about 300 million to $400 million on sales and 6 to 9 cents per share on profit for the full year.
The Million Dollar Coin
The Birch Cent, one of the first minted coins in America, sold for nearly $1.2 million in an auction by Stack’s Bowers. The 1792 coin features one of the most artistic depictions of Lady Liberty seen on a coin, and her visage is surrounded by the words “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.” The copper coin sold is one of four varieties of the 1792 Birch cents and the best version of the coins was sold earlier this year for just under $2.6 million. The coin sold Thursday has been circulated for years, and was sold in 1890 for $85. Several collectors owned it before it was turned over to Stack’s Bowers in 1975.
House Passes $3.8 Trillion Budget
Senate Next House Republicans approved Wednesday a $3.8 trillion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, USA TODAY reports. Striking a balance between “deficit and defense hawks,” the emerging blueprint includes a $38 billion increase for the account that has been used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 10-year plan also includes steep domestic spending cuts, no tax hikes and a repeal of Obamacare. The Senate is poised to vote early Friday morning on passage of its own competing budget resolution. Republicans control both chambers of Congress for the first time in nearly a decade. Passing a budget was one of the party’s campaign promises.
Is Soda Losing its Pop in America?
Americans bought less soda for the 10th consecutive year in 2014, according to Beverage Digest’s annual report released Thursday. Overall soda volume slipped 0.9 percent last year, the Associated Press reports, with diet soda sales shrinking more than their full-on sugar counterparts. Coca-Cola remains the most popular soda in the U.S., selling about twice as much as Pepsi, which regained the No. 2 spot in the top 10 from Diet Coke. Concerns about weight gain and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, have fueled sodas’ decline over the past decade. Bottled water sales, though, have boosted the overall performance of the U.S. beverage industry, the report said.
World’s Largest Cruise Ships Headed for Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico, which has made attracting tourists a priority for the recession-wracked country, is preparing to welcome the world's two largest cruise ships for the first time next year, the Associated Press reports. Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas will bring an estimated 60,000 passengers to San Juan in 2016. The visits are projected to generate an estimated $6.4 million in revenue. The island last month received a record 17,847 cruise ship U.S. economic growth cooled in the fourth quarter as previously estimated, with businesses throttling back on inventory and equipment investment but robust consumer spending limiting the slowdown in the pace of activity.