Morning Money Memo…
McDonald’s is facing more criticism today over its pay scale for workers and marketing high-fat food to children. Critics plan to confront CEO Don Thompson during the question-and-answer portion of the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
On Wednesday, McDonald’s closed one of its buildings in Oak Brook, Ill., where hundreds of protesters planned to demonstrate over low wages. Shareholder meetings offer a rare opportunity for small investors to face top executives at publicly traded companies.
Public pension funds and activist groups often show up in hopes of changing corporate practices. The McDonald’s meeting is a frequent target because of the company’s high profile.
Carnival is responding to concerns from regulators and complaints by environmental groups. The cruise ship company says it’s spending about $400 million to clean up the air pollution from the massive diesel engines it uses to power more than 70 ships.
The company says it’s decided to invest more money and re-fit more ships than initially planned. Last year, Carnival said it would deploy scrubbers to reduce sulfur dioxide and use filters to trap soot on as many as 32 ships over the next three years as part of an agreement reached with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Cruise ship companies have been criticized by the Environmental Defense Fund and other groups for polluting the air near coastlines.
Norwegian Cruise Line plans to add scrubbers on least six ships. Emissions from oceangoing vessels had largely been unregulated, but in 2010, the International Maritime Organization, at the EPA’s request, created buffer zones along U.S. coasts requiring foreign-flagged ships to reduce pollution.
Carnival spokesman Tom Dow the technology will be in about 70 percent of its fleet. At port, the ships will plug into the electrical grid, rather than idle, or use a lower sulfur fuel.
Struggling Sears’ 1st quarter loss grew to $402 million as the retailer’s sales declined 7 percent compared to last year.
Sears has been cutting costs, reducing inventory and selling assets to return to profit. At the same time, it’s shifting away from its focus on running a store network into a member-focused business. So far this year Sears has closed about 80 stores.
Nearly half of America’s fastest growing cities are in Texas. New numbers from the Census Bureau also show The West is in the middle of a population boom with rising energy production and other growing industries.
Three of the fastest growing U.S. cities are San Marcos, Frisco and Cedar Park, Texas. The population of San Marcos, located between Austin and San Antonio, soared 8 percent between 2012 and 2013.
National of Association of Realtors today releases existing home sales numbers for April. There was a winter slowdown for the housing market. Many buyers in their 20′s and 30′s have been priced out of the market.
“Young people had a particularly rough recession. Their unemployment rate went higher than for adults overall,” says Jed Kolko, senior economist at Trulia, the real estate firm. “Even now young people aren’t even half way back to normal when it comes to getting jobs.”
Education matters, even in the more affordable markets of the Midwest and Texas. “Fewer than half of the homes for sale are within reach of the typical household that has a high school degree or less,” says Kolko.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow