Macy's sees robust mobile, online sales as profits soar

Macy's earnings rallied the retail sector Wednesday. File/AP

Tech, retail drive market rebound

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks notched solid gains Wednesday, recouping some of the market's losses from a day earlier.

Technology and health care companies drove much of the rebound, outweighing losses in safe-play stocks like utilities and real estate investment trusts. Small-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market.

Macy's led a rally among retailers after reporting surprisingly strong results, adding to the strong wave of corporate earnings in recent weeks.

"Earnings growth has shown through and that's been primarily based on strong fundamental growth from U.S. companies," said Jamie Lavin, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. "And when equity markets are able to look through to that and we don't have any major geopolitical headlines, we tend to have stronger days in the market."

Senate seeks to restore 'net neutrality'

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, have pushed through a measure intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic.

But opposition in the House and the White House may block it. Republicans on the short end of the vote describes the effort to reinstate "net neutrality" rules as "political theater" because the GOP-controlled isn't expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Home building slides 3.7% in April

WASHINGTON — U.S. builders broke ground on fewer apartment buildings last month, pushing overall home construction down 3.7 percent from March.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million in April, lowest since December. Apartment construction tumbled 12.6 percent to 374,000. Construction of single-family homes blipped up 0.1 percent to 894,000.

Still, housing starts are up 10.5 percent from April 2017 on a 7.2 percent increase in single-family homes, and a 19.1 percent surge in apartments.

Home construction has grown steadily since the housing crash hit bottom in 2012. The pace of homebuilding is still below its long-run average of about 1.5 million a year, which has led to a shortage of homes on the market. Millennials are increasingly moving out on their own to buy their own homes.

Demand for housing is strong despite an uptick in mortgage rates: The rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate home loan is 4.55 percent, up from 4.05 percent a year ago.

In April, housing starts fell 16.3 percent in the Midwest, 12 percent in the West and 8.1 percent in the Northeast. They rose 6.4 percent in the South.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, fell 1.8 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted 1.35 million.

Judge mulls order against CBS shareholder

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware judge has ordered a pause in a dispute between CBS and its majority shareholder that could decide control of the company.

The judge on Wednesday granted CBS a temporary restraining order prohibiting National Amusements from taking any action to thwart a scheduled Thursday board vote on a dividend that would dilute National Amusement's voting power from 80 percent to 17 percent, effectively giving CBS independence.

The judge said he was granting the order only to protect his jurisdiction and would rule Thursday on whether it should remain in effect.

CBS has been fighting pressure by National Amusements to merge with Viacom, which also is controlled by National Amusements.

Factory output in US climbed in April

WASHINGTON — U.S. factories cranked out more appliances, computers and aircraft last month, lifting manufacturing production for only the second time in five months.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that factory output rose 0.5 percent in April after a flat reading in March. In the past year, production has increased a modest 1.8 percent.

A broader measure of industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent. Mining output, lifted by higher oil prices, jumped 1.1 percent. Utilities output rose 1.9 percent.

U.S. manufacturers have benefited from solid consumer spending, while also facing uncertainty because of steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. The production of electrical equipment and appliances rose 1.5 percent last month, while the output of steel and other metals fell 0.5 percent.

Profit at Macy's exceeds projections

NEW YORK — With customers in a mood to spend, particularly on clothing, Macy's surpassed all profit and revenue expectations for the first quarter of the year and raised its outlook.

Macy's, the first of the major department store to release its quarterly results, has been expanding its store label brands, adding more of the off-price Backstage stores, and upgrading its checkout technology to make it faster and easier for shoppers.

CEO Jeff Gennette said the company saw strength across its Bloomingdale's, Bluemercury and Macy's brands. He said results are improving at its stores, coupled with robust online and mobile growth.

For the period ended May 5, Macy's Inc. earned $139 million, or 45 cents per share. A year earlier, the company earned $78 million, or 26 cents per share.

Revenue rose to $5.54 billion from $5.35 billion, also beating Wall Street's view.

Wynn: Dozens quizzed in probe

LAS VEGAS — The chairwoman of the internal committee of Wynn Resorts looking into the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against the casino operator's founder says more than 100 people have been interviewed in the investigation.

Pat Mulroy on Wednesday told shareholders gathered in Las Vegas for the company's annual meeting that the committee has also reviewed three million documents.

Company founder Steve Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO in February after the Wall Street Journal reported that several women said he harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement. He denies the allegations. No shareholders asked questions about the investigation.

Mulroy says the committee is also looking at policies and procedures hoping to create structures to prevent and avoid "future discrimination or harassment" at the company.

Wire reports