Local News

Stock losses deepen after Fed hints at faster aid pullback

<p><p>Stocks fell further on Wall Street Tuesday as the Federal Reserve considers hastening its plan to ease support the economy even as investors worry about the impact of a new coronavirus variant.</p></p><p><p>The S&amp;P 500 fell 1.8% as of 11:57 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 626 points, or 1.8%, to 34,503 and the Nasdaq fell 1.9%.</p></p><p><p>Crude oil prices, which depend on a strong economy, slumped 6.4%.</p></p><p><p>The weakness started after Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times that he expected current vaccines would struggle with the omicron variant.</p></p><p><p>Moderna, along with Pfizer and Johnson &amp; Johnson, make vaccines against COVID-19 that have collectively helped tame the pandemic through 2021 and allowed the global economy to recover. Moderna slumped 6.8%.</p></p><p><p>The losses for stocks accelerated after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that <a href="https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-business-jerome-powell-economic-outlook-7f9a46ff490707b3f3860f84b7848049" target="—blank">the Federal Reserve will consider acting more quickly to dial back its support</a> for the economy as inflationary pressures build.</p></p><p><p>He also acknowledged that higher inflation will likely persist well into next year.</p></p><p><p>The Fed is currently reducing its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to lower longer-term borrowing costs, at a pace that would end those purchases in June.</p></p><p><p>Speeding up that process could put the central bank on a path to begin raising its key short-term rate as early as the first half of next year.</p></p><p><p>The Fed is starting to ease its support for the economy and markets just as the recovery is once again being threatened by a variant of the virus that <a href="https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-science-health-oceans-mozambique-08b63b7e889463b1627623da26a86da4" target="—blank">appears to spread more easily</a>, though much is still unknown about just how much more contagious or dangerous it could be.</p></p><p><p>The economy and markets were hurt by a summer surge of cases from the delta variant, though the impact on the overall recovery wasn’t very big.</p></p><p><p>Markets in Europe and Asia also fell. Many countries have put up barriers to travel in an effort to stem the spread of the omicron variant, which could also hurt global business.</p></p><p><p>The variant is also raising concerns that problems with global supply chains could be made worse if factories and ports shut down.</p></p><p><p>Investors are also monitoring the latest round of economic data. The Conference Board reported that consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in November.</p></p><p><p>The big economic report this week will be Friday’s U.S. jobs report from the Labor Department.</p></p><p><p>Wall Street will also get an update Friday on the health of the services sector, which represents the bulk of the economy.</p></p> ... Continue Reading

November delivers another hit to sinking consumer confidence

<p><p>WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in November, clipped by rising prices and concern about the coronavirus.</p></p><p><p>The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dropped to a reading of 109.5, down from 111.6 in October. It was the lowest reading since the index stood at 95.2 in February.</p></p><p><p>The survey was completed on Nov. 19 and would not include the ramifications of omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus that has begun to spread with few solid answers about the damage it might do to the U.S. and global economies.</p></p><p><p>Even before the omicron variant appeared, consumer optimism was being tested by price spikes across the board, particularly for gasoline and food.</p></p><p><p>The Conference Board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, fell to 142.5, down from 145.5 in October.</p></p><p><p>The expectations index, based consumers’ outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, fell to 87.6 in November from 89.0 in October.</p></p><p><p>The Conference Board said that concerns about rising prices and to a lesser degree, lingering worries about the delta variant, were the primary drivers of the November decline.</p></p><p><p>But economists believe rising prices and any jolt from the omicron variant will not have a major impact on holiday spending this year, something that can have a sizable impact on the U.S. economy.</p></p><p><p>Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said she expected the omicron variant would have only a “moderate negative impact on growth.”</p></p><p><p>She is looking for the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, to expand at an annual rate of 7.9% in the current quarter ending in December, a big improvement from the lackluster 2.1% GDP gain in the July-September quarter.</p></p><p><p>The decline in the Conference Board confidence index followed an even bigger drop reported last week in the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment, which fell in November to a decade-low of 7.4, compared to a final October reading of 71.7.</p></p><p><p>The smaller decline in the Conference Board survey reflects the fact that this index places more emphasis on the labor market, which has been performing well this year.</p></p> ... Continue Reading

U.S. home prices register 19.1% annual gain in September

<p><p>WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose briskly in September, another sign that the housing market is booming in the aftermath of last year’s coronavirus recession.</p></p><p><p>The S&amp;P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price climbed 19.1% in September from a year earlier.</p></p><p><p>The strong price gains marked a deceleration from August’s 19.6% year-over-year increase. Still, September prices in all 20 cities set new records.</p></p><p><p>Phoenix was the nation’s hottest market, registering a 33.1% price increase.</p></p><p><p>It was followed by Tampa (where prices rose 27.7%) and Miami (25.2%). All 20 cities reported double-digit increases. The smallest gains were in Chicago (up 11.8%) and Minneapolis (12.8%).</p></p><p><p>The housing market has been strong, thanks to rock-bottom mortgage rates, a limited supply of homes on the market and pent-up demand from consumers locked in last year by the pandemic.</p></p><p><p>“Housing prices continued to show remarkable strength in September, though the pace of price increases declined slightly,” said Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&amp;P Dow Jones Indices.</p></p><p><p>“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven by households’ reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes.”</p></p><p><p>Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes rose 0.8% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.3 million, strongest annual pace since January.</p></p><p><p>The Commerce Department reported last week that new-home prices edged up a disappointing 0.4% last month as median prices rose nearly 18% from a year earlier to a record $407,700.</p></p><p><p>“Most indicators suggest prices have continued to edge higher, albeit at a slightly slower pace, amid tight supply conditions and the structural shift in demand towards single-family, suburban homes induced by the pandemic,” Contingent Macro Advisors said in a research report.</p></p> ... Continue Reading

Hello Sugar expands Kendall Yards location in Spokane

<p><p>Hello Sugar has purchased the lease for the entire building it shared with Indaba Coffee Roasters in Kendall Yards.</p></p><p><p>Indaba announced the transaction for its 419 N. Nettleton St. location in a Facebook post last week. The coffee shop’s last day of operation in the building was Sunday.</p></p><p><p>“It allows (Hello Sugar) to bring to life what they are dreaming of in the space,” Indaba owner Bobby Enslow said of the sale in an interview Monday. “My heart, from the beginning, was to give them an opportunity to grow and create something.”</p></p><p><p>Enslow partnered with Hello Sugar owners Amy and Ramsey Pruchnic to open a cafe and pop-up donut shop in the shared building in 2018.</p></p><p><p>Hello Sugar initially was envisioned as a “fun side project,” but that quickly evolved into a larger-than-anticipated business as its bite-sized donuts became increasingly popular.</p></p><p><p>That prompted the need for more space, Amy Pruchnic said.</p></p><p><p>“When we opened Hello Sugar, we thought we would hire some college students and do this fun side project and then it blew up,” Amy Pruchnic said.</p></p><p><p>The donut shop had a line of customers wrapped around the building on opening day, she said.</p></p><p><p>Financial terms of the lease were not disclosed.</p></p><p><p>Hello Sugar’s purchase of Indbada’s lease at the building on Nettleton Street coincides with a decision to permanently close its Spokane Valley shop, which had been in operation since 2019 in Ponderosa Village at 11205 E. Dishman-Mica Road.</p></p><p><p>Hello Sugar’s location in Liberty Lake will remain open.</p></p><p><p>“When we opened our second and third locations, we realized coffee was something we wanted to offer with donuts,” Amy Pruchnic said. “It was kind of a long time coming and it makes sense for one business to operate in the (Nettleton Street) space.”</p></p><p><p>The decision to close Hello Sugar’s Spokane Valley location was a move that “really made sense for us going into the future,” Pruchnic said.</p></p><p><p>Employees at the Spokane Valley shop are transferring to Hello Sugar’s Kendall Yards and Liberty Lake locations, Pruchnic said.</p></p><p><p>Hello Sugar is opening an espresso bar in the space formerly occupied by Indaba, where it will serve Evans Brothers Coffee.</p></p><p><p>The espresso bar is anticipated to be open by Wednesday, Pruchnic said.</p></p><p><p>Hello Sugar also has plans to add savory breakfast items to its menu, in addition to offering ice cream and candy in the future.</p></p><p><p>“We are excited to show people how Hello Sugar makes coffee and have a fun, new experience in the Kendall Yards location,” she said.</p></p><p><p>“We want the community to know and understand that both businesses have a deep love for each other and we are excited to see where each other goes in the future.”</p></p><p><p>Indaba’s deal with Hello Sugar comes after it closed a downtown Spokane coffee shop last month at 210 N. Howard St.</p></p><p><p>Despite the closure, Indaba will retain a presence in the community as its other Spokane-area shops are remaining open.</p></p><p><p>Enslow has plans for a new coffee shop in Yakima.</p></p><p><p>“We are not going anywhere,” he said.</p></p><p><p>“Our heart has always been to love people through our business. This is just another way for us to love on Hello Sugar and the community through them.”<span class="print_trim"><em>Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at amye@spokesman.com</em></span><em>.</em></p></p> ... Continue Reading

8 seconds of glory is for rodeo bulls and their Washington owners, too

<p><p>PROSSER, Wash. – In early November, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was filled with dirt, rodeo fans and 40 of the best bull riders in the world.</p></p><p><p>Among the steel panels and chutes at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, the bull riders hope to last 8 seconds for a shot at pride, glory, life changing money, and the culminating titles that include world champion.</p></p><p><p>All the lights, money, danger, story lines and pressure, however, mean nothing to the other star athletes – nearly 1-ton animals that await a cowboy on their back and the chance to shake him off.</p></p><p><p> The owners of some of these bulls are Craig and Vicki Wentz. They have endured sleepless nights, hours of back -breaking work, frustration, joy and countless miles on the road to get to this point.</p></p><p><p>They watch as a rider nods his head and the gatemen open the chute. Their bull goes full throttle in a split second, legs defying gravity as the first jump of the wild ride begins.</p></p><p><p>Four bulls from the Wentzes’ Washington breeding program made the exclusive cut for the finals this year: Montana Moon, Whiskey Bent, Jasper and Red Clark.</p></p><p><p>Their moments weren’t decided by a single high-scoring ride. </p></p><p><p>In the late 1990s Craig Wentz began the difficult task of ending his rodeo career riding saddle bronc horses. Vicki Wentz was a barrel racer.</p></p><p><p>Rather than leave rodeo, they began breeding some cows to bucking bulls from the famed Flying 5/Big Bend Rodeo Company out of Ritzville and settled in Prosser.</p></p><p><p>“We knew what a bucking bull looked like and what they were supposed to do, but as far as genetics we weren’t familiar with any of that,” Craig Wentz said.</p></p><p><p>Nonetheless, the simple idea of “breeding the best with the best” was exactly what they did.</p></p><p><p>Bucking bulls, such as those from the Wentzes’, aren’t just Angus bulls thrown in a chute with a rope and a rider; it takes years of breeding and genetic background to get to the level of competition of modern-era bulls .</p></p><p><p>Consider Red Clark, a bull in sixth place in the Professional Bull Riders’ year-end standings. His sire, Italian Stallion, died as a 4-year-old, and came from one of the Wentzes’ greatest, Buckey.</p></p><p><p>“Buckey was the first bull we hauled to a PBR event and the first one that we felt had the potential to show anyone in the world that he could go,” Craig Wentz said.</p></p><p><p>Wentz has found that the chances of having a calf that goes on to be a bucking bull are much higher than they used to be, and these odds increase with every generation.</p></p><p><p>The calves born every spring come in many different colors and sizes, such as the classic Northwest rodeo bull look of big, furry and red.</p></p><p><p>The bulls are judged on the same criteria for the entirety of their lives: the amount and ferocity of jump, kick, spin and degree of difficulty.</p></p><p><p>“Sometimes we’ll buck them when we wean them, we have a little remote-control box we can put on them that is kind of like a rider; it acts like a counterweight on their back to give them that feel,” he said, “and we’ll watch them as weanlings, we’ll watch them as yearlings, we’ll watch them as 2-year-olds and we’ll buck them a couple times a year up until they’re 3 and we’ll make cuts based on their performance.”</p></p><p><p>The “little remote-control box” Wentz mentioned is known as a “dummy.” It is with this dummy on their back that the 1- and mostly 2-year-old bulls compete in “futurity” competitions. Three-year-old bulls can compete in derby competitions and 4-year-olds can compete in the “classics.”</p></p><p><p>The Wentzes themselves don’t end up participating in many of these events. They’re more focused on the bulls when they turn 3 (old enough for a rider) and bringing them to small events as they get used to the experience. By the time they are 4, Wentz has them ready.</p></p><p><p>“In the Northwest there’s very few of those events,” Craig Wentz said. “And it just never has fit our program. Our program is more adult or mature bulls and we’ve kind of stayed in that lane. Although, there’s a lot of money in the futurity events.”</p></p><p><p>These competitions can be lucrative; Oklahoma’s D&amp;H Cattle Company’s 4-year-old bull Juju won the 2021 American Bucking Bull Incorporated classic competition and collected $100,000 for the year-end title.</p></p><p><p>The bulls begin to peak around age 5. Sometimes, the Wentzes find themselves pushing their animals’ careers a bit further than possible in Washington with the help of other stock contractors.</p></p><p><p>After the 2020 PBR season and world finals, the Wentzes and Texas stock contractor Jeremy Walker of Paradigm Bull Company cut a partnership deal that saw Red Clark staying in Texas and now being hauled by Walker for an ideal shot at every stock contractor’s dream, a world championship. Walker would go on to purchase a bull named Jasper from the Wentzes this year.</p></p><p><p>And another offspring of Buckey, Cochise, was in a similar position, being hauled by Oklahoma’s Gene Owen from 2016 to early 2020 and being a world title contender every year.</p></p><p><p>“Up here we don’t get to go to a lot of events in the Northwest. Being in Texas or Oklahoma is being more central to more events,” Craig Wentz said. “You can get to 15 to 18 events down there and we can get to six, maybe eight if we’re lucky. So a bull’s career on a typical animal starts when they’re 4 and getting finished up by the time they’re 10 probably, so there’s four to six years of being competitive at the highest level and just being able to haul them and get them to more events can help their confidence and conditioning, along with living in a more moderate climate.”</p></p><p><p>Through all of the intricacies and hardships, the bucking bull business and is much more than a means of income.</p></p><p><p>When the Wentzes began the breeding bulls, one of the key aspects was incorporating the entire family. Without help from their son Wyatt and daughter Fallon, the Wentzes are unsure they would be able to run the business or find anything near the same level of passion they have today.</p></p><p><p>The bulls are also like a part of the family; the amount of time, effort and care put into them will do that to anyone.</p></p><p><p>That’s one reason why the concern that the flank strap is hurting the animals is something Wentz can never understand.</p></p><p><p>“It’s a soft cotton rope and it’s tied about as tight as your belt is around your waist, and that’s about in the same area there just in front of the hips. It hurts them in no way at all, and I’d be willing to show anybody at any time at any event how it’s tied on and how loose it is,” Wentz said. “It helps with the timing of the bull breaking over. We don’t want to hurt these animals, some of them are $50,000 to $100,000 animals, and if they’re in pain or hurting they’re not going to buck. They are genetically bred to do this and that’s what they want to do, they enjoy it just as much.”</p></p><p><p>And to see those bulls on the biggest stage in bull riding, the PBR World Finals, may just be the most exciting part of the stock contracting business for Wentz.</p></p><p><p>This year’s four bulls at the finals were the most for the Wentzes; overall there were 112 bulls selected for the competition. </p></p><p><p>“We are always hopeful for the best trips they can have and are always excited to see the results of our toils, that’s what makes it exciting,” he said. “As they grow we put our heart and soul into getting them up and getting them going. Seeing them on the big stage, the PBR World Finals, with one of your calves, is probably the most meaningful to us seeing the starting goal accomplished.”</p></p> ... Continue Reading