Morning Money Memo…
Harsh winter weather in most of the country has been drag for many businesses, especially retailers and restaurants. Car sales were flat in February compared with last year – a clear disappointment for automakers and dealers.
The industry entered 2014 expecting to sell more than 16 million cars and trucks for the first time since the recession. But so far, sales are on pace to hit around 15 million, which would be 600,000 less than last year. General Motors, Ford and Toyota all reported U.S. sales declines for February.
But some firms are doing a lot better. Snow and ice means cold hard cash at Ace Hardware, which is having its best winter in more than a decade with strong snow blower and shovel sales. LL Bean has sold out of waterproof boots.
With more Americans stuck indoors, customers are ordering up more meals and arranging to have their laundry picked up through the website and smartphone app of Delivery.com. Sales are up 30 percent compared with last year.
Carmex, known for its yellow jars of lip balm, says its sales are up 9 percent over the past eight to ten weeks. Pawz Dog Boots, which makes colorful rubber booties that safeguard paws from salt and snow, says sales have more than doubled.
Many consumers may be shocked at the cost of harsh weather. Higher utility bills, leaky pipes, and damage to your car from potholes are just three examples.
“You want to check your homeowner’s insurance policies and put money in an emergency fund to protect against deductibles or unexpected costs, says Kelley Long with the American Institute of CPAs financial literacy drive.
Heating costs have been much higher than average. “This is going to be the highest month for a lot of people,” says Long. “Having a little emergency fund: that’s what this is for.”
What a difference a day makes for the stock market. Futures moved higher this morning and European markets bounced back from Monday’s plunge caused by tensions over Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea. Oil prices are down a dollar a barrel after rising $2 Monday.
The S&P 500 yesterday had its biggest drop in a month. Despite this morning’s rise for stock futures markets could be volatile as investors consider Russia’s next moves and the West’s response.
Dish Network is looking to the future in a deal it’s made with Disney. The agreement envisions the day when Dish will offer a Netflix-like TV service to subscribers who’d rather stream TV over the Internet than put a satellite receiver on their roof.
The Disney agreement paves the way for Dish to offer live local broadcasts from ABC TV stations and programming from other ABC properties. As part of the new rights deal, Dish agreed to disable the skip commercial feature on its Hopper digital video recorders for three days after a program’s initial broadcast.
The Justice Department is siding with broadcasters in their dispute with Aereo, the firm that streams live TV shows on the internet. In its brief filed with the Supreme Court, the Obama administration argues that Aereo is infringing on the broadcasters’ copyrights by streaming shows without permission. Aereo claims that because anyone can watch broadcast TV for free using an antenna and its service does not violate copyright law.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow