The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 1:00 am


Confidence drops off during July

Staff, news services

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in July to a reading of 92.6 as coronavirus infections spread in many parts of the country.

The Conference Board, a New York research organization, reported Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell from a June reading of 98.3. The weakness came from a drop in the expectations index, which measures consumer views about the short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions.

The Conference Board said the large decline in the expectations index reflected big drops in sentiment in Michigan, Forida, Texas and California, all states that have seen a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

A separate report Tuesday showed that U.S. home prices grew more slowly in May. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 3.7% in from a year earlier. That's a drop from the 3.9% increase in April and a smaller gain than economists had expected.

Phoenix led the way with a 9% annual gain in home prices, followed by Seattle (up 6.8%) and Tampa (up 6%). Chicago registered the smallest increase: 1.3%.

Franklin Electric tops Wall Street's hopes

Franklin Electric Co. on Tuesday reported second-quarter profit of $24.7 million.

The Fort Wayne-based company said it had profit of 52 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs, came to 54 cents per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 47 cents per share. The company posted revenue of $308.3 million in the period.

Franklin Electric expects full-year earnings in the range of $1.75 to $1.90 per share.

Franklin Electric shares have declined nearly 6% since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 16% in the last 12 months.

Pfizer profits tumble in second quarter

Pfizer Inc. reported a 32% plunge in second-quarter profit, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting marketing of and new prescriptions for its medicines, even as the drugmaker races to develop a vaccine to fight the virus.

Still, the biggest U.S. drugmaker by revenue posted a solid profit, nudged up parts of its 2020 financial forecast and reaffirmed the rest. Wall Street responded by driving Pfizer shares up 4%.

“Our continued strong performance speaks to the resilience of our business even during the most challenging of times,” CEO Albert Bourla told analysts on a call Tuesday. “We continue to believe that the second quarter, and particularly April, will be the worst” for us.

Tech conference CES to go virtual in 2021

CES, one of the world's biggest technology conferences, will be a virtual event next January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it would go on as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas.

The announcement Tuesday is another blow for Las Vegas, which, like all other U.S. tourist destinations, is suffering as people stay home or vacation locally. More than 170,00 people attended the four-day show this January, before COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S.

States in the South and West are being hit particularly hard.

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