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story.lead_photo.caption FILE- In this Jan. 31, 2018, file photo, credit card logos are posted to the door of a business in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Utility commission hires new director

The Arkansas Public Service Commission named a veteran with more than 30 years' experience in public utility regulation as executive director of the general staff, the commission said Monday.

Donna Gray will replace John Bethel, who retired in April after almost 30 years with the commission.

Gray is returning to the commission where she began her public utility regulatory career.

Gray has testified as an expert witness on a wide range of policy and utility rate issues at the state and federal levels as a member of the commission's staff and more recently as a regulatory consultant.

While on the commission's staff, she held senior leadership roles for more than 25 years, overseeing the development of the general staff's position in numerous proceedings.

Gray also has 10 years of experience in collegiate teaching and administration, as well as experience in budget and fiscal review for the legislative branch in Arkansas.

Entergy Arkansas hired Bethel in May as the utility's director of public affairs.

-- David Smith

Consumer borrowing rises $24B in May

WASHINGTON -- Americans increased their borrowing in May at the fastest pace in a year and a half, boosted by a big increase in credit card borrowing.

Consumer debt rose $24.5 billion in May after an increase of $10 billion in April, the Federal Reserve reported Monday. It was the biggest monthly increase since a rise of $24.8 billion in November 2016.

The category that includes credit cards climbed $16.3 billion in May after increasing by $5 billion in April.

Consumer borrowing trends are closely monitored for clues they can provide about the willingness of consumers to borrow more to support their spending. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a lackluster annual rate of 2.2 percent in the January-March quarter. But economists are forecasting a sizable rebound in the just-completed April-June quarter, based on reports that consumer spending has picked up again after a winter slowdown.

The hefty gain in consumer credit in May pushed borrowing to a total $3.9 trillion on a seasonally-adjusted basis. The Fed's monthly borrowing report does not include mortgages or any other debt secured by real estate, such as home equity lines of credit.

-- The Associated Press

Sugar glut tied to harvest, low demand

NEW YORK -- Sugar stockpiles are poised for a record as slowing demand growth and surging production creates the worst-performing commodity of 2018.

Consumers have become increasingly wary of the health effects of their sweet tooth, and companies from canned-fruit maker Del Monte Foods Inc. to snack-food seller Mondelez International Inc. are touting products made with less sugar. While global consumption is still rising, the pace of growth has slowed to an average 1.4 percent in recent seasons, down from 1.7 percent over the past decade, according to researcher Green Pool Commodity Specialists.

That's coming at a time when production is booming, especially in India, the world's No. 2 producer. Farmers in Thailand are also collecting massive crops. World stockpiles are set to swell to the highest ever this season and stay near the record next year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sugar futures in New York have already slumped 25 percent in 2018. That's the biggest loss on the Bloomberg Commodity Index, which tracks returns for 22 components.

"Unless there's a weather issue, it doesn't look that the bulls have any hope for a sustained rally," said Donald Selkin, a New York-based chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities Corp., which oversees about $2 billion.

-- Bloomberg News

Amazon critic joins federal trade agency

WASHINGTON -- Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Amazon.com Inc.'s business practices, is joining the office of Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra as the agency prepares to increase antitrust scrutiny of technology firms.

Khan, the director of legal policy at Washington think tank Open Markets Institute, will work as a legal fellow for the next few months for Chopra, one of two Democratic commissioners at the agency, Chopra said Monday on Twitter.

"Lina is sharp as a tack and works her fingers to the bone," Chopra said. "I have no doubt she will be a valuable member of the [trade commission] team as we think about how to tackle the pressing issues that lie ahead."

Khan has risen to prominence in Washington antitrust circles for her work on Amazon, appearing on numerous panels to make the case that technology platforms like the online retail giant represent a threat to competitive markets.

Chairman Joe Simons said the trade agency will host a series of public hearings this year on competition policy, including examining the online economy and whether technology firms are undermining competition.

Khan declined to comment when reached by phone.

-- Bloomberg News

Uber to invest in scooter-rental business

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ride-hailing company Uber said Monday that it is investing in Lime, a motorized-scooter startup based in San Mateo, Calif.

Rachel Holt, an Uber vice president, said Uber will add Lime scooters to the Uber mobile app, giving consumers another option for getting around cities, especially to and from public transit systems.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Customers can rent Lime scooters in more than 70 locations in the U.S. and Europe and leave them parked for the next customer to ride. The company is looking to buy tens of thousands of motorized foot-pedal scooters to expand its reach.

For Uber, the move follows its purchase earlier this year of Jump Bikes, which rents electric bicycles in a half-dozen cities including San Francisco, Chicago and Washington. Terms were not disclosed.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 07/10/2018

Print Headline: Utility commission hires new director Consumer borrowing rises $24B in May Sugar glut tied to harvest, low demand Amazon critic joins federal trade agency Uber to invest in scooter-rental business

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