ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth.
BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Strong summer. Home buyers are getting off the sidelines. Sales are up for a second straight month injecting new life into a slumping market.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Closing the gap. Start-ups led by women tend to get less funding than their male counterparts. But there is an effort under way to change that.
GRIFFETH: Top marks. Electric vehicles were put to the test, and a handful scored high, leading some to wonder if they`re safer than gas- powered cars.
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday, September 19th.
HERERA: Good evening, everyone. And welcome.
We begin tonight with housing. A home is often the greatest source of wealth and savings for many families, one of the reasons why it`s watched so closely by both Wall Street and Main Street. And today, we learned that existing home sales rose to the highest level in more than a year. It was a surprise given that expectations were for a decline and it was welcome news for a housing market that has been lukewarm at best, raising hopes that if the slump may be about to end.
Diana Olick starts us off tonight.
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: After a pretty unremarkable spring, the summer housing market saw some unexpected strength. Sales of existing homes jumped to the highest level in year in August and were higher annually the second month in a row. Lower mortgage rates were a big factor. The average rate on the 30-year fixed start at May over 4 percent but then fell through June and July when the contracts of these August sales were signed.
LAWRENCE YUN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: We anticipated that home buyers would be reaching the market but the magical power of low mortgage rates clearly enticed buyers to the market.
OLICK: The biggest problem in the market now is lack of supply, which fell more than 2 percent annually in August. Home builders did start more houses in August compared with a year ago, and building permits were also strong, indicating future construction.
Unfortunately, builders are still not focused on the entry level. And the price gains for existing homes are heating up again.
YUN: Right now, the prices are rising strongly because of lack of inventory and at some point, even the low rates will not help because people will be priced out.
OLICK: Mortgage rates also turned higher at the start of this month, making those pricey homes even pricier.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.
GRIFFETH: And, of course, all real estate is local. And today`s report on home sales showed that some regions are stronger than others. The Northeast, for example, saw the biggest increase in sales in August while the West actually saw a decline.
Joining us now, two realtors who are on the front lines in those two areas. From the Northeast, it`s Buddy West. He`s president of Emory Hill Residential in Wilmington, Delaware. And from the West, Courtney Hall with Keller Williams in Burbank, California.
Welcome to both of you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
BUDDY WEST, EMORY HILL RESIDENTIAL PRESIDENT: Thank you.
COURTNEY HALL, KELLER WILLLIAMS BURBANK REALTOR: Thank you.
GRIFFETH: Courtney, as it happens, Sue and I grew up in the area where you work now and I`m well aware it can be sometimes a very hot market, sometimes a very cold market. Right now, I hear you have reluctance of buyers. Why — what`s going on there?
HALL: Well, I think that the buyers are just a little more cautious right now. They are worried that they`re buying at the height of the market. So they`re just a little more hesitant and the lack of inventory —
GRIFFETH: So, the affordability issue is playing into it here, I guess.
HALL: Absolutely. Absolutely.
HERERA: And, Buddy, what about in your neck of the woods, down in Delaware, a beautiful state.
WEST: Yes. Thank you.
HERERA: But the Northeast also saw the loss of state and local tax deductions in many states. How are things in your neck of the woods?
WEST: Well, it`s interesting. Delaware is very interesting because you have northern Delaware, southern Delaware. Southern (NYSE:SO) Delaware is on the ocean. It`s a big place for people to retire on the beach and obviously the demand is very high.
When you come north it`s a little slower, on the — on the rise. However, we`re so close to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and New York. We`re the hub. So, they`re the places that are really doing incredibly well. And we`re picking up some of that business as well.
GRIFFETH: Every time I pass through Delaware, it seems there is more construction. Do you have a lot going on there, do you?
WEST: Well, that`s what our state — our state thing is the blacktop is basically our state item. They`re constantly redoing the roads.
HERERA: Courtney, what about the quality of the homes that are for sale? I mean, we all know it`s expensive to live in California. And if you are moving from a state — out of state into California, you can get some sticker shock.
So what`s the inventory that`s available, what are buyers tell telling you?
HALL: So I think that`s part of what`s slowed is the home sales is the quality of the inventory right now. You know, when a home is of good quality, it goes really quickly. You know, there will be a couple of offers over the asking price and it will go quickly.
You know, not as many offers as there was last year. Last year, we were seeing 10 and 12 on one home. This year, you get three to four on the good quality homes.
But I think one reason it slowed is the quality of the inventory out there has declined a little bit. And, you know, the prices are sometimes they`re a little overpriced and things like that and so, the buyers are a little more hesitant.
GRIFFETH: Anecdotally, Courtney, we`ve heard that Asian buyers aren`t coming in as much as they have there in the West Coast. Are you seeing that at all in your part of the Los Angeles?
HALL: I — I don`t know if I`m allowed to comment on the demographics of homebuyers ethically. I don`t — I don`t know.
GRIFFETH: Well, where do a lot of your buyers come from? I mean, I assume you mentioned out of state coming to California they will get sticker shock. But coming from other parts of the world, I wonder if that`s the case as well.
HALL: Yes, there is — so I will say that, you know, a lot of people are more so moving out of state.
HALL: — than coming into state. Most of my buyers in Burbank and the surrounding areas, they work for the studios. They work, you know, in the movie industry and things like that. And that`s where most of my buyers are coming from, and they`re the first and second time buyers from those industries.
But I do see a good amount of buyers from other places not necessarily out of state, but even out of the country.
HERERA: Buddy, talk to me about the tax situation. You`re in Delaware. A tax advantaged state.
HERERA: Have you seen a migration from high tax states to Delaware? Has that been a factor in fueling the move in your real estate market?
WEST: Yes, we have, as a matter of fact, the surrounding states. The quality of life here and the cost of living is much lower than most of the surrounding states. But interestingly enough, there is a lot of still international money coming into our state.
And we`re so close — like I said, so close to Philadelphia, 35 miles away. A lot of that is it coming and it`s just great. I think it`s a generational item as well. A lot of millennials now are starting on the move to get into their house.
GRIFFETH: Have you — is this the beginning of a pickup for you, Buddy? You know, we are talking about nationally a slush sluggish market overall this summer, but it sounds like you haven`t had that situation.
WEST: We`ve been — like Delaware is coming out now. It`s coming out. It`s going up a little bit at a time. But now, if you look at it, it`s based on job creation. And obviously, we have created triple figure jobs in the last probably 18, 20 months.
So with that happening, there is more employment. Unemployment is 3.7. All these factors are going to help. More companies are moving into the Northeast.
So, we think it`s going to be a really, really vibrant market in the next six to 18 months.
GRIFFETH: Buddy West from Emory Hill Residential, Courtney Hall from Keller Williams Burbank — thank you both for joining us tonight.
HALL: Thank you.
WEST: Thanks for having us.
HERERA: On Wall Street, the strong home sales report was hot enough for a market broad boost. Stocks searched for direction, holding steady under all-time highs, as investors remain concerned about the trade war between the U.S. and China. We`ll have more on that in just a minute.
But first here, the closing numbers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 52 points to 27,094, the Nasdaq was up 5, and the S&P 500 was basically unchanged, recording very slight gains.
GRIFFETH: The global economy overall is growing at the slowest pace since the greatest great recession. That`s the finding in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That group today downgraded its outlook for the global economy to 2.9 percent growth for this year, citing the U.S.-China trade war and potential for a no Brexit deal. It also pointed out that investors are holding massive amounts of risky debt, specifically leveraged corporate loans.
HERERA: As trade tensions take a toll on global economic growth, trade negotiators from the U.S. and China are back at work trying to hammer out their differences.
Kayla Tausche reports tonight from Washington.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Dozens of Chinese officials arriving at U.S. government offices today for the first if a face-to-face trade talks since the June truce fell apart. Both sides want to deescalate tensions, though serious issues between the economies remain.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question now is whether or not the China wants to do a deal. I think and if we have a sense, China wants to do a deal. We just don`t know if they want to do it yet.
TAUSCHE: While a broad deal remains elusive, this week`s agenda tackles specific issues according to sources. Currency which the Treasury says China manipulates, fentanyl, which the U.S. says China still ships here, and agriculture, in focus for President Trump as farm finances struggle.
China halted purchases of U.S. farm crops this summer, but there could be an end in sight. After talks wrap in Washington, China`s vice minister of agriculture will take a smaller group to Nebraska and Montana to meet with U.S. farmers personally.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that visit could accompany a purchase agreement.
SONNY PERDUE, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: There`s really more than just purchases here. There are structural reforms that the Chinese know that we have to have over non-tariff issues as well. And we hope that these purchases or agreements or these talks this coming week can lead fruitful and give momentum as we said in the further discussions of a trade resolution.
TAUSCHE: The goal of deputies this week isn`t to broker a deal. It`s to set the table for a meeting among principals next month and a meeting between the country`s two leaders after that. And adviser to President Trump telling “The South China Morning Post”, if he doesn`t get a big deal and soon, tariffs could skyrocket.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche at the White House.
GRIFFETH: Time to take a look at some of today`s “Upgrades and Downgrades”.
We begin with shares of Costco (NASDAQ:COST). They were downgraded today to underperform from market perform at Bernstein. The analyst says that investors are overpaying for the quality of earnings, dividends and defensiveness. Price target, $230. That stock fell about 1.5 percent to close at $287.83.
U.S. Steel was downgraded to underperform form outperform in Macquarie. The analyst expects steel prices to stay weak and therefore the company`s cash flow to the under pressure. The price target there, $9. That stock was down 11 percent today to $11.06.
HERERA: Brown-Forman was downgraded to underperform from in line at Evercore ISI. The analyst cites the stocks valuation, the price target is $60. The stock fell a fraction to $64.30.
Coverage of Beyond Meat was initiated with an overweight rating at Barclay`s. The company says Beyond Meat is, quote, well-positioned for the future. The price target is $185. The shares rose a fraction to $154.92.
GRIFFETH: Still ahead, the growth in gaming and Apple`s strategy to become a bigger player in that industry.
HERERA: The House has passed a short-term spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month. The measure gives lawmakers until Thanksgiving to pass more than $1 trillion worth of annual funding bills. The Senate is scheduled to approve the stopgap measure next week.
GRIFFETH: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today unveiled a proposal to lower prescription drug prices. Her plan would allow the federal government to, every year, negotiate the prices of some of the most costly drugs that lack price competition and the bill would also impose penalties on those drug companies that refuse to negotiate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA (NASDAQ:CA)), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Makes lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare available to all Americans. It stops drug companies from ripping off Americans while charging other countries less for the drug.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Pelosi said that she consulted the White House while developing this bill and she`s hoping for bipartisan support.
HERERA: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Washington talking to lawmakers about internet regulation, and privacy protections. Zuckerberg had dinner last night with some of the biggest critics, including Senator Mark Warner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Mr. Zuckerberg said that he is willing to work with us on legislation. The challenge to a degree has been can we get to some of the legislation to the floor? I think, we are way behind, already behind Europe and behind states like California on privacy legislation. I also think we need legislation that would ensure that as users, we have a right to know when we`re being communicated with by a human being versus a bot. I think we need to make sure that we have the ability to know what data is being collected about us, how much it`s worth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Senator Warner also said that the Wild West days of social media must end.
GRIFFETH: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has a new plan to tackle climate change. And today, he said he is committing his company to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement ten years ahead of schedule.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON CEO: It`s a difficult challenge for us because we have deep, large physical infrastructure. We`re not only moving information around. We`re moving packages around. We deliver 10 billion items, more than 10 billion items a year. This is real physical infrastructure at real scale. And so, we can make the argument and we plan to do so passionately that if we can do this, anyone can do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Bezos expects 80 percent of Amazon`s energy use to come from renewable sources by 2024. That`s up from the current levels of 40 percent. His goal eventually is to transition to zero emissions by 2030.
HERERA: And now to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its push to gaming. The company today launched its new video game subscription service called Arcade. It`s all part of the company`s move to expand business beyond its flagship iPhone.
Josh Lipton in San Francisco for us tonight.
JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: More than 2 billion people will play video games around the world this year. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) now hopes some of them will give its new service a try.
Arcade is a subscription service which at $5 per month also includes access for up to six family members. They will feature more than 100 new exclusive titles. The company reportedly spent hundreds of millions of dollars to secure these new games.
TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: We`re adding a whole new way to enjoy games on the app store with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Arcade. We have joined forces with the world`s most innovative game developers to push the boundaries of what`s possible.
LIPTON: It`s no surprise that Tim Cook wants a greater piece of the game industry. Total game revenues this year are expected to reach nearly $150 billion. The success of the service will come down to the content which experts say must be fun, engaging entertainment to win over gamers.
But does Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) also need a breakout hit? A marquee title that draws in gamers? Analysts say not necessarily. That Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs enough good games to justify $5 a month. Analysts don`t think Arcade will have a big impact on the apple bottom line but any do think Arcade could bolster what investors do care a lot about, the company`s faster growing, higher margin services segment, by some estimates potentially adding $7 billion in revenue over the next three to five years.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) might also have competition. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is highlighting its own game subscription service that could becoming soon no details yet, though, on pricing, content or launch date.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, at San Francisco.
GRIFFETH: Sales come up short at Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI (NASDAQ:TBUS)). And that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus” with the parent of Olive Garden and other chains reporting profit that was better than expected, a penny better. But revenue was light despite positive results from Olive Garden, Capital Grille and Longhorn Steak House. Casual dining chains overall have been struggling as consumer opt for healthier food. Darden shares fell 5 percent today to $120.68.
Diageo showed today that it`s not immune to global trade policy changes, but the world`s largest spirits maker did say it`s on track to meet its sales targets and as a result, it maintained its full year outlook. As for trade issues, though, Diageo has been making a big push into the Chinese market and it recently raised concerns about the scotch brands being dragged into the trade dispute between the U.S. and Europe. Diageo was off for a fraction today to $163.10.
Famed short-seller Jim Chanos said today he`s betting against Grubhub. The hedge fund manager says the delivery company faces major competition and labor issues and doesn`t help that the restaurant business overall is stagnant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM CHANOS, KYNIKOS ASSOCIATES FOUNDER: Right now, Grubhub is making almost no money per order. Something like 15 cents an order. And there is no margin in the business. And you basically put two more hands outstretched, you know, for the restaurant guy saying, pay the delivery company, pay the driver, for money that they`re really not making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Shares of Grubhub slid by 5 percent today to $60.51.
HERERA: Walgreen`s will be the first retailer in the U.S. to test on- demand drone delivery services. The pilot program will be conducted in conjunction with Alphabet`s drone delivery service called Wing. The program will deliver food, beverages and over over-the-counter medications but not prescriptions. Walgreen`s rose a fraction to $54.57.
Truck maker Navistar will idle production of commercial trucks for General Motors (NYSE:GM) starting next week. The company says that due to the labor strike at the automaker, it will run out of parts for GM trucks by tomorrow. Navistar assembles trucks for GM as a contractor at one of its plants. Navistar rose nearly 1 percent to $29.30.
After the bell today, Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) said it plans to hike its dividends by 17 percent. The chip maker will have a quarterly payout of 90 cents a share. The higher rate must be declared by the company`s board. The stock was steady in after-hours trading, but it finished the regular session down a fraction to $128.83.
And the cloud software company Datadog had a strong Wall Street debut. Datadog competes with cloud providers like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Sysco (NYSE:SYY) and Zoom. Its stock price at $27 a share and climbed to more than $40 at the open. The shares ended up 39 percent at $37.55.
GRIFFETH: Before companies can go public, they need to prove that they can grow as a private company. And to grow as a private company they need to prove that they are worth investing in. In other words, they need funding.
But research shows that some start-ups run by women are not getting as much financing as their male counterparts. Julia Boorstin has the story, though, of one investor who`s trying to close that gap.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Investor Edith Dorsen sees an opportunity in closing a gender gap for entrepreneurs, which is why she raised two the venture capital funds investing in gender balanced teens raising A Stage funding, a key moment for startups which are starting to gain traction to secure financing to grow.
EDITH DORSEN, WOMEN`S VC FUND FOUNDER: We are seeing a large growing percentage of our deal flow that is in fact Series A ready.
BOORSTIN: Companies with at least one female founder have raised less than 16 percent of all venture capital funding in the first eight months of this year, according to PitchBook.
Entrepreneur`s chances of raising capital declines between the early seed financing, their very first funding round, and the A round when they`re looking for bigger checks to scale their businesses. And it`s even harder for companies with a female founder which see a bigger drop between seed and Series A deals.
DORSEN: Very few institutions are yet putting capital in at the stage we are talking about, which is where we think the bottleneck is, specifically in what with we refer to as Series A.
BOORSTIN: Dorsen sees untapped opportunity in focusing on female led start-ups which may not get as much attention from male venture capital partners. And her focus has drawn the backing of both institutional and individual investors.
One of those investors is the Carlisle Group`s chief transformation officer Reggie Van Lee who was an executive as Booth Allen Hamilton for over 30 years.
REGGIE VAN LEE, FORMER BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON EXECUTIVE VP: This equity issue that exists with respect to women and getting access to capital, it`s something that needs to be fixed. They`re not fixed just because it will be a nice thing to do, but because there is money left on the table.
BOORSTIN: One of Dorsen`s investments is Hop Skip Drive, a transportation service for kids cofounded by Joanna McFarland and two other moms.
JOANNA MCFARLAND, HOPSKIPDRIVE CO-FOUNDER & CEO: I`m really found that we`ve had a number of investors that specifically invest in female entrepreneurs and a number of female funds that invest in that round because they saw the potential in what we were doing. And since then, our growth has just taken off.
BOORSTIN: That A Round investment enabled Hop Skip Drive to expand the potential for ride service for kids age 6 and up. Originally just for parents, it`s now focusing on working with schools. Now, McFarland says the company has contracts with 170 schools and districts across seven states, growing its revenue by three times this year.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
HERERA: Coming up, the safest electric vehicles on the road today.
HERERA: There are now 530 confirmed and probably cases of vaping related illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that is up from 380 a week ago. The FDA is also investigating more than 150 products and has disclosed a criminal probe. But the probe is examining the supply chain of vaping products, not individual vapors.
GRIFFETH: Finally, tonight, brand-new cash crash test results of alternative powered vehicles show some of them are among the safest models on the road. So, it raises the question, are electric vehicles which have battery packs and small motors, safer than cars and trucks with internal combustion engines.
Phil LeBeau has the story.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Crash tests of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell SUV show three models handle a variety of collisions better than many vehicles. In fact two electric vehicles, the Tesla Model 3 and Audi E-Tron, along with the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell SUV got the best rating possible from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Chevy Volt did well in the crash test, but did not get a top safety rating due to concerns about its headlights.
DAVID ZUBY, INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: For sure we can say the vehicles we recently tested have the same state of the art protection we see in more traditionally designed vehicles.
LEBEAU: Most EVs are built with large battery packs positioned on the floor of the vehicle. So, models like those built by Tesla have a storage cabin in front of the vehicle where a large engine is typically located for internal combustion vehicles. Some believe that no engine means a lower chance of passengers being injured in EV collusions. But experts have not reached that conclusion.
ZUBY: The fact that the battery can be placed in a variety of places may be with more flexibility than the a gas tank, does provide the potential to make electric vehicles safer at least as safe if not safer than traditional vehicles.
LEBEAU: The IIHS also notes the risk of a battery fire after a collision is not a major concern, since the casings holding the batteries have held up well in crash tests.
In short, the tests are fresh evidence some electric vehicles look to be as safe as other models.
Safety may not be a major issue for those considering an electric vehicle. But supply definitely is. The number of EVs on the market is still relatively low, which is why the number of electric vehicles actually sold in the U.S. is a small percentage of total vehicle sales.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago
HERERA: And before we go, here`s a look at the day`s final numbers from Wall Street. The Dow fell 52 points. Nasdaq was up 5, and the S&P 500 saw very slight gains.
That is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us.
GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. We`ll see you tomorrow.
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