The daily business briefing: April 7, 2017
Economy created just 98,000 jobs in March, Twitter fights to protect identity of person behind anti-Trump account, and more
Economy created just 98,000 jobs in March, missing expectations
The U.S. economy added just 98,000 non-farm jobs in March, falling significantly short of the 185,000 new jobs economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted. Despite the weak gains, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent, hitting the lowest level in nearly a decade. The Labor Department's Friday report also cut the estimate of February job gains from 235,000 down to 219,000, and January's gains from 238,000 to 216,000. Hiring exceeded expectations in those months, bolstering the theory that President Trump's promises to cut taxes and reduce regulations on businesses would have given the economy a temporary bump. Wages rose in March by 0.2 percent to an average of $26.14 an hour. Analysts said the sharp slowdown in hiring after a strong first two months in 2017 might reflect that hiring is getting back to normal as employers raise wages to attract and keep talent as the pool of the unemployed dwindles.
Twitter fights to protect identity of person behind anti-Trump account
Twitter on Thursday sued the U.S. government to keep it from identifying the person behind an anonymous anti-Trump account. Twitter said in a court filing that it had received a summons to disclose the user of the account, @ALT_USCIS, one of several accounts attributed to dissident current and former federal employees. As they did in fights for information with Facebook, Google, Apple, and other companies, federal officials say they need access to the data for national security reasons. "To unmask an anonymous speaker online, the government must have a strong justification," said Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU attorney involved in the case. "But in this case the government has given no reason at all, leading to concerns that it is simply trying to stifle dissent."
Oil and bonds rise, stocks inch down after U.S. hits Syria with missiles
Safe-haven bonds and oil prices rose and global stocks edged down early Friday as investors reacted to the U.S. cruise-missile attack against a Syrian government air base. Markets were already jittery over President Trump's summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida, where Trump was expected to press the Chinese leader over trade and China's failure to use its leverage to get North Korea to curb its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Stocks recovered some lost ground after U.S. officials downplayed the likelihood of an escalation, with S&P 500 futures down just 0.1 percent before the opening bell. "The markets will just be very jittery all day," said James Audiss, senior wealth manager at Shaw and Partners Ltd. in Sydney.
Lyft raises another $500 million for its fight with Uber
Lyft has raised $500 million in a new round of funding to help bankroll its battle against rival ride-hailing service Uber, sources told several news outlets on Thursday. The latest infusion of cash values the startup at $7.5 billion, up from a valuation of $5.5 billion when it was last valued, in 2015. Lyft is trying to catch up with Uber, which is valued at roughly $68 billion, but has faced consumer boycotts recently after becoming engulfed in turmoil following complaints about its aggressive corporate culture. Lyft said in January that it planned to add coverage in 100 cities this year, making it available in 300 cities across the U.S.
Amazon continues hiring spree with promise to add 30,000 part-timers
Amazon said Thursday that it planned to create 30,000 part-time U.S. jobs over the next year, continuing a massive hiring binge. The new jobs will double the online retail giant's part-time work force, with 25,000 of the new positions in warehouses. The other 5,000 positions will be home-based customer service positions. In January, Amazon said it would add 100,000 U.S. full-time jobs over the next 18 months. The company's global work force grew last year by 48 percent, reaching 341,400 employees. Part-time employees who wind up working at least 20 hours a week can get benefits.