Morning Money Memo…
Netflix, the king of downloads, is grabbing more bandwidth, and was responsible for 34 percent of all peak-time Internet usage in early 2014. Sandvine, a Canadian networking services firm, says Netflix’s share continues to rise. YouTube dropped from more than 18 percent of peak time data in 2013 to just over 13 percent. Amazon and Hulu both have less than 2 percent of total usage. The videogame service Twitch moved into the top 15 applications for the first time. According to Sandvine, the top 15 percent of streaming video users gobble up seven times as much data as the average broadband user.
It may soon be easier for many Americans to get a mortgage. The Obama administration and federal regulators are backing away from previous proposals to tighten lending standards, reports The Wall Street Journal. Critics said the rules could choke off the housing recovery. The proposals would have required bigger down payments for some types of mortgages.
Big-company profits and Wall Street averages are at fresh highs as the S&P 500 closed at a new record. But the Main Street economy remains stock in a rut. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales in April barely grew at all. Marshal Cohen at NPD Group has been tracking consumers’ spending behavior for decades. He’s never seen anything quite like this. “They are holding back on buying unless they really need the product,” with fewer impulse purchases, says Cohen. But warmer weather could boost spending this month. “For the first time in 35 years weather really does play a role right now.” Consumers spend on an as-needed basis. “They’re not stockpiling the way they used to.”
A new analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds Americans are not putting away the funds they will need for retirement. “We found that the median amount being saved is a big fat zero,” says Mike Sante of Interest.com. “They have to save more than their grandparents did or their parents did or they’re going to have a very difficult, trying retirement.”
Tough times for Sony: The once high-flying Japanese consumer electronics company reported a $1.3 billion quarterly loss. Much of that is because of expenses after Sony pulled the plug on its personal computer business. The firm’s annual loss was three times greater than the previous year.
A report by Human Rights Watch says children as young as 7 years old are working long hours in tobacco fields in hazardous conditions. The report comes from interviews with more than 140 kids working on farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Children said they long hours without overtime pay and wore inadequate protective gear. Human Rights Watch says most of what it found is legal under US law, but it’s urging governments and tobacco companies to take further steps to protect children.
Wal-Mart has agreed to settle claims from families of victims who died in a 2011 cantaloupe listeria outbreak. The contamination was traced to a Colorado farm and 33 people were killed. The Denver Post reports that Wal-Mart settled with 23 families, including nine in Colorado. The terms of the settlements were kept confidential.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow