Consumer confidence climbs
American consumers are the most confident they’ve been since 2000.
The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose to 130.8 in February, highest since November 2000 and up from 124.3 in January.
The business research group’s index measures consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the next six months. They feel better about today’s economy than they have since March 2001. Their outlook also improved.
Tax cuts passed into law last year are starting to show up in workers’ paychecks. “As people slowly absorb the details of the tax reform package, opinion polls suggest that it is becoming significantly more popular,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, wrote in a research note.
A strong job market is also boosting confidence. The unemployment rate has stayed at a 17-year-low 4.1 percent.
Macy’s earnings rebounding
Macy’s broke out of its long-running sales funk, reporting a healthy sales gain at existing stores for the holiday period as it benefited from an improving economy and its own initiatives like an overhauled customer loyalty program.
The department store chain also posted sharply higher earnings for the fourth quarter, boosted by the sale of certain real estate assets. It issued an upbeat outlook, and its shares surged more than 11 percent Tuesday.
Macy’s said sales at established stores rose 1.4 percent, which includes sales in licensed departments like jewelry. That was well above the 0.4 percent increase analysts expected and reversed nearly three years of quarterly declines in that measure. For the year, that figure was down 1.9 percent.
Move over, Johnnie Walker
It’s not the alcohol playing tricks on your eyes: The striding figure on some bottles of Johnnie Walker scotch will be Jane Walker.
Liquor maker Diageo says it plans to roll out bottles next month for a limited run. Diageo says it’s the first time in the brand’s nearly 200-year history that the logo has been depicted as a woman.
It’s the latest gender change for a famous pitch figure: Last month, KFC started airing commercials with country star Reba McEntire playing the role of Col. Sanders. And Brawny briefly sold paper towels with a woman in a plaid shirt, instead of the usual Brawny dude.
Diageo PLC says the Jane Walker edition of Johnnie Walker is its way of putting the spotlight on gender equality and women’s achievements.
Comcast raises stakes for Sky
Comcast, the owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, has launched a bid for European pay TV broadcaster Sky that threatens to thwart a rival offer by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’ 21st Century Fox.
The move appears not only opportunistic but aimed at disrupting the European expansion of arch-rival Disney, which is currently looking to take over Fox.
Comcast said Tuesday it is offering $29.5 billion for London-based Sky. The proposed cash deal values each Sky share at $17.39, which is 16 percent more than what Fox had bid to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own.
Amazon purchasing Ring
Amazon is expanding its home-security business by buying Ring, the maker of Wi-Fi-connected doorbells.
The deal comes months after the online retailer started selling its own Wi-Fi-connected indoor security cameras, which work with its voice-assistant Alexa.
Besides video doorbells, Ring makes indoor and outdoor cameras and its video can be streamed on smartphones and other devices. The acquisition puts Amazon in direct competition with Google’s Nest, which also makes cameras.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. declined to say how much it is paying for Ring.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.
Business news briefs, Feb. 28: Consumer confidence at its highest since 2008