Friday Morning Business Brief
August 22, 2014, 6:01 AM
- Most Asian stock markets pushed higher today while European shares were flat in early trading. Investors measured upbeat U.S. economic data against a waiting game ahead of a meeting of central bankers that might shed light on the timing of U.S. interest rate hikes. U.S. stocks have been steadily rising this month and futures point to opening gains today. The dollar slipped against the euro and the yen. Benchmark crude oil fell to just above $93 a barrel. There are no major economic or corporate reports due today.
- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will address the annual Fed conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with investors seeking any clear hints of when it will start raising interest rates. An extensive internal debate on the subject has developed at the fed. The main subject of Yellen's remarks today will be labor markets, which is the theme of this year's gathering of central bankers.
- A report from the Census Bureau is the latest evidence that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer. The study divided the U.S. into five groups, from wealthiest to poorest. The median net worth of the richest households rose 11 percent between 2000 and 2011, to $630,754. The next-wealthiest group's net worth also rose. But because wealth dropped for the majority of Americans, the median household net worth for the country overall declined about 7 percent to $68,828.
- Farming is becoming an "in" thing in New England. Across the region, young people are choosing crops over cubicles, new farms are popping up and the local food movement is spreading. Farmers and industry experts agree New England is bucking a trend toward larger, but fewer, farms because many of its residents want to buy their food locally and its entrepreneurs want to produce it.
- Once upon a time, there was always room for Jello: Today -- not so much. Sales have tumbled 19 percent in the past four years, with alternatives such as Greek yogurt surging in popularity. The dessert was invented more than a century ago and helped popularize a delicacy once reserved for the rich. Kraft has vowed to boost Jell-O's jiggle.
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