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The Free Press WV

►  Dow, Russell 2000 hit new highs; uneven finish for U.S. stocks

Wall Street turned in an uneven finish Friday as investors unloaded their technology company shares in favor of energy and financial stocks.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite, which has outpaced gains by other U.S. stock indexes this year, fell the most. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed slightly lower.

Even with the sell-off in technology stocks, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks closed higher, each setting new highs.

“We’re seeing investors rotate out of the international stocks and into the U.S. stocks in general,“ said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Equity Research. “And also a rotation out of technology and into energy, materials and financials.“

All told, the S&P 500 index fell 2.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,431.77. The Dow gained 89.44 points, or 0.4 percent, to 21,271.97. The Nasdaq declined 113.85 points, or 1.8 percent, to 6,207.92. The Russell 2000 picked up 6.09 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,421.71. The indexes also closed out the week unevenly after several days of trading in a mostly narrow range.

Despite the day’s big tech stock slide, more stocks rose than declined on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. stocks were coming off a two-day winning streak, which included a record high for the Nasdaq on Thursday. They were on track to extend those gains early Friday, each at one point trading above their most recent closing highs.

But then investors began to unload technology stocks. The sell-off centered on the biggest companies in the stock market: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook. But the biggest decliner was chipmaker Nvidia, which lost $10.34, or 6.5 percent, to $149.60.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, fell $34.16, or 3.4 percent, to $970.12, while Apple slid $6.01, or 3.9 percent, to $148.98.

“It’s had a good run,“ said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “People are taking a little money off the table.“

The technology sector fell 2.7 percent. It remains up 18.5 percent for the year.

Traders also bid up shares in energy companies as the price of crude oil rose.

Helmerich & Payne added $2.87, or 5.7 percent, to $53.27. Rig operator Transocean picked up 39 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $8.81.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 19 cents to close at $45.83 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 29 cents to settle at $48.15 a barrel in London.

Small-company stocks were among the big gainers, receiving a boost from a stronger dollar following the British general election. A stronger dollar tends to benefit small-cap stocks, because they tend to not have as much exposure to international markets as large-cap stocks.

The pound lost more than 2 cents versus the dollar after the Conservatives lost their majority in Parliament, which could send Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union, due to start June 19, into disarray. The pound weakened to $1.2724 from $1.2943. The dollar also strengthened to 110.20 yen from 109.94 yen late Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1195 from $1.1222.

Corporate deal news also led to some notable stock moves Friday.

DuPont Fabros Technology jumped 9.8 percent after the data real estate investment trust and owner of wholesale data centers was acquired by another REIT, Digital Realty Trust. The deal is an all-stock transaction valued at about $7.6 billion. DuPont Fabros Technology shares gained $5.44 to $60.80. Digital Realty slipped $3.43, or 2.9 percent, to $113.32.

Pandora Media rose on news that SiriusXM will invest $480 million in the online radio company. SiriusXM, which is buying preferred stock and taking a 19 percent stake in Pandora, will also select three people to be named to Pandora’s board. Pandora is breaking off a deal with investment firm KKR from last month. Pandora added 10 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $8.52. SiriusXM slid 20 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $5.20.

Several companies fell after issuing weak outlooks.

VeriFone Systems shed 3.5 percent after the maker of terminals for electronic payments cut its forecasts and said it will sell or restructure several businesses. The stock lost 64 cents to $17.68.

HNI slumped 12.6 percent after the maker of office furniture and fireplaces cut its forecasts because of slower sales and falling wholesale revenue. The stock slid $5.64 to $39.27.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield held rose to 2.20 percent from 2.19 percent late Thursday.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose a penny to $1.50 per gallon. Heating oil inched up 1 cent to $1.43 per gallon. Natural gas added 1 cent to $3.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $8.10 to $1,271.40 per ounce. Silver lost 19 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $17.22 per ounce. Copper gained 4 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $2.65 per pound.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.5 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent.


►  10 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a College Degree

Jobs requiring only a high-school education typically pay $35,000 less per year than those requiring a bachelor’s degree. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t high-paying jobs out there for Americans without a college education. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St lists the 50 highest-paying jobs in the US that don’t require a college degree. The lowest annual wage among those 50 jobs, which include positions like railroad conductor and building inspector, is still more than $56,000. The median annual wage in the US is $37,000. Here are the 10 highest paying jobs in the US that don’t require a college education and their median annual wage:

  1. Nuclear power reactor operators ($91,170)
  2. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers ($89,190)
  3. First-line supervisors of police and detectives ($84,840)
  4. Power distributors and dispatchers ($81,900)
  5. Elevator installers and repairers ($78,890)
  6. Detectives and criminal investigators ($78,120)
  7. Commercial pilots ($77,200)
  8. Media and communication equipment workers ($75,700)
  9. Electrical and electronics repairers ($75,670)
  10. Power plant operators ($74,690)

See the full list HERE .


►  Amazon Just Made a Major Play for Walmart Customers

Amazon figured out a great way to appear altruistic while also taking a shot at its biggest competitor, announcing a discounted Prime member for low-income Americans on Tuesday. Yahoo reports the 45% discount lowers the cost of Prime, which bestows free two-day delivery, to $5.99 for anyone with an EBT card, which is used for food stamps and other government assistance. Qualifying people will also get the first 30 days of Prime for free, according to NPR. Approximately 60% of American households already have a Prime membership, Business Insider reports. But most of those memberships are found in upper income brackets, where membership is reaching saturation. On the other hand, some 45 million low-income Americans are now eligible for a discounted Prime membership.

Industry insiders reacted with skepticism to Amazon’s announcement. After all, low-income Americans don’t shop online as much and have limited internet access. But retail consultant Doug Stephens says even a small amount of new customers can pay off for Amazon through loyalty. “Prime is the gateway drug for the heroin that is Amazon,“ he says. One Amazon investor agrees, saying discounted Prime membership will get low-income people used to buying online. Even better: It will eat into Walmart’s customer base. Nearly $1 out of every $5 in food stamps was spent at Walmart in 2016. For its part, Walmart has been actively trying to steal Amazon customers, recently experimenting with employees delivering orders at the end of their shift.


►  Some hope California winner of $447M Powerball helps area

A sole winning Powerball ticket worth $447.8 million and matching all six numbers was sold in Southern California and will claim the 10th largest lottery prize in U.S. history, lottery officials said Sunday.

The winning ticket was sold at Marietta Liquor & Deli in the small city of Menifee, the California Lottery said in a statement. Lottery officials said the earliest the ticket could be redeemed is 8 a.m. Monday, and the winner has one year to claim the prize.

The store just off a highway caters to retirees who live in the Sun City part of Menifee that was originally developed as a retirement community as well as to motorists passing through the area about 80 miles from Los Angeles.

Liquor store owner Matthew Alberre said he does not know which of his customers won the jackpot or what his family will do with the $1 million bonus set aside for the retailer that sells the winning ticket.

“We’re so blessed for this to happen,“ said Alberre, who owns the store with his father.

The year began terribly for the family because Alberre’s father was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

“Starting out the year, it seemed like it was going to be the worst year in the world, and six months later, our store hit the Powerball. We’re very, very grateful for this to happen to our store,“ Alberre said.

Sun City residents were wondering if they might know the winner.

At a breakfast at the local Knights of Columbus organization, Armand Blais said people there hoped the ticketholder lived in their community and would assist their efforts to build a new church.

“We’re hoping they’re a parishioner and they’ll bring us a check tomorrow,“ said Blais, president of the Sun City Civic Association’s board.

Sun City has about 4,700 homes developed in the 1960s for residents age 55 and older. Today, they are part of Menifee, population 89,000, but those living in Sun City still proudly call the community by its original name, Blais said.

The homes are clustered around a golf course, and residents join in activities ranging from tai chi and swimming to woodworking and shuffleboard, according to the association’s website.

Menifee Mayor Neil Winter said he hoped a local resident bought the winning ticket at the store in a heavily visited intersection that has sold winners before but never for so much.

“There’s a lot of good folks over there, so hopefully one of our Menifee folks won,“ he said.

The lucky numbers drawn Saturday night were 20-26-32-38-58, and the Powerball number was 3.

Powerball spokesman Randy Miller said the estimated jackpot prize is based on a winner choosing an annuity, which pays off over 29 years. The cash prize would be $279.1 million. Both prize amounts would be before taxes are deducted.

Before the drawing Saturday night, the jackpot was estimated at $435 million. It had grown because no one had matched all the numbers since April 01.

The odds of winning Saturday’s drawing were one in 292.2 million.

Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Business and Finance….

The Free Press WV

►  Saturday Powerball prize is 8th largest in game history

Saturday’s Powerball Jackpot will be one of the largest in the game’s history.

The prize is an estimated $435 million, the eighth largest prize in 25 years. The prize’s cash value is $273.1 million

“We are starting to see sales increase as the Powerball jackpot continues to climb and that is good news, because strong sales mean more money to help support education, seniors and tourism in West Virginia,” West Virginia Lottery Director Alan Larrick said in a news release Thursday.

According to the lottery, eight West Virginians have won the Powerball jackpot, and 33 people have received prizes of at least $1 million.

Tickets can be purchased at any lottery retailer before 9:59 p.m. Saturday.


►  Civilian compensation costs average $35.28 per hour worked in March 2017

Employer costs for civilian workers averaged $24.10 per hour worked for wages and salaries and $11.18 for benefits in March 2017.

Health insurance was the largest employer benefit cost at $2.94, accounting for 8.3 percent of total compensation costs.

In Business and Finance….

The Free Press WV

►  Your Pet Is Fleecing You

You might want to drop man’s best friend a bill: It turns out that not only is your dog chewing holes in your socks, he’s eating a hole in your wallet—a much bigger one than you think, reports CNBC. According to a survey of pet owners by Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, 12% of apparently very naive respondents thought the lifetime cost of their pet would be $644, while a majority put the cap at $6,445. The real numbers for your beloved pooch? Anywhere between $27,074 and $42,545, depending on the breed. That includes buying your dog, food, toys, grooming, and basic but not catastrophic vet care.

Fine, so you’ll get a cat instead, right? Things only get slightly better: Factoring in the addition of kitty litter, you’re talking $21,917 to $30,942. Want to downsize to a rabbit? That’ll be $12,893, thank you very much. If you’re left feeling like you want to spend more, well, consider getting pet insurance. At around $25 a month, CNBC notes that that can mean thousands more over the course of an animal’s life. The silver lining, of course, isn’t financial: 93% of us say our critters make us happier. And much poorer than we think.


►  The Price Tag Is Strong With This One

Star Wars fans might consider it a golden opportunity. Tokyo jeweler Ginza Tanaka is offering a life-size Darth Vader mask made of 24-karat gold at a hefty price of $1.4 million to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars movie. The creation measures 10.4 inches wide and 11.8 inches high, reports the AP. The jeweler says the mask was not designed for wearing—at about 33 pounds, it would be too heavy and has no opening for a head.

It goes on sale Thursday, or “May the Fourth” as the New York Times puts it. For those who can’t afford the golden version, a black plastic one can be had via Amazon for $40. While the mask is the jeweler’s most expensive Star Wars memorabilia, it has made pricier products. In 2013, a gold Disney-themed Christmas tree was priced at $4.5 million, and the Japan Times notes the century-old jeweler has also created a gold replica of soccer player Lionel Messi’s left foot.


►  Powerball Ticket Worth $1M Sold in West Virginia

A Powerball ticket sold in northern West Virginia is worth $1 million from the latest drawing.

The West Virginia Lottery says on its website that a ticket sold at a convenience store in Shinnston matched the first five numbers in Saturday’s drawing. The winner had not claimed the ticket as of Monday.

The numbers drawn were 22, 23, 24, 45 and 62. The Powerball was 5.

Because there was no jackpot winner from Saturday, the jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing climbed to $130 million.

In Business and Finance….

The Free Press WV

►  Chipotle’s Burgers Arrive to Distract from E. Coli, Norovirus

Chipotle’s first burger store will open this week in Ohio as the company continues working to expand its offerings and win back customers after a series of food safety scares, the AP reports. Chipotle says the new Tasty Made restaurant is scheduled to open Thursday in Lancaster. The Denver-based company says the Tasty Made restaurant will serve only burgers, fries, milkshakes, and sodas. Chipotle says the grilled-to-order burgers will be made from fresh beef from animals raised without antibiotics or added hormones. It says Tasty Made prices will be similar to those of fast-food competitors. The chain known for its burritos has been trying to recover from an E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases that sent sales plunging starting last fall.


►  Arby’s Throws Caution to the Wind, Offers Venison Sandwich

In what one executive calls the fast-food chain’s “biggest stretch” yet—and what may be the biggest test of gastrointestinal bravery in recent memory—Arby’s is offering a limited-time-only venison sandwich, MLive.com reports. According to WZZM, the Arby’s Bambi Burger* features a “thick-cut venison steak and crispy onions with a berry sauce on a toasted roll.“ “You simply can’t find this at other restaurant chains,“ Arby’s executive Rob Lynch says. Diners at 17 Arby’s locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Georgia will soon be able to find out if that’s for a good reason or not. Arby’s is offering the venison sandwich at locations where deer hunting is especially popular. “Hunters hunt the meats, and we have the meats, so it makes sense for us to connect with them,“ Lynch says.

The Free Press WV

*Ed. Note: Not the actual name.


►  Wife Tries to Show What a Waste the Lotto Is, Wins $1M

This was one lesson that really paid off. A North Carolina woman who bought a scratch-off ticket to prove to her husband that they’re a waste of money hit a $1 million jackpot instead. Glenda Blackwell says her hubby, Buddy, told her to buy him two Powerball tickets last weekend at Suttles Quik Mart in Asheville, but she had another idea. She bought herself a Carolina Millions ticket that she hoped would prove a point. “I was going to be ugly and buy a scratch-off to show him they didn’t hit,“ Blackwell tells WLOS. “Sometimes I get aggravated with him, so I tell him, ‘You’re just wasting your money.‘“ Indeed, the Washington Post reports one’s chances of winning Powerball are roughly 1 in 292 million. But things didn’t go as planned.

When the $10 ticket hit, the 57-year-old cut herself a fat slice of humble pie. “I had to eat my words, but they were worth eating.“ Blackwell, who opted to take a lump sum payment of $415,503 after taxes, says she’s looking forward to no more money worries, and helping her two granddaughters pay for college. “We’ve struggled a lot, so now we can buy our own home and our own land,“ she says. Should anyone else want to try to teach his or her spouse a lesson, a press release notes that Carolina Millions, which launched in early October, still has seven of the eight top $1 million prizes up for grabs.

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