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story.lead_photo.caption FILE- In this Feb. 21, 2019, file photo a newly constructed homes sit near a sign in Natick, Mass. On Friday, March 29, the Commerce Department reports on sales of new homes in February. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Huawei's profit jumps to $8.8B in '18

Huawei Technologies Co. posted a 25 percent jump in annual profit even as the Chinese telecommunications giant faces a U.S.-led push to keep it out of next-generation networks.

China's largest tech company by sales posted net income of $8.8 billion in 2018 as it won customers for its smartphones and networking gear, according to a statement on Friday. Revenue for the year jumped almost 20 percent.

Despite being at the center of global scrutiny, Huawei is winning customers for its equipment as it contends with Apple Inc. for the mantle of world's No. 2 smartphone label. The company has already disclosed accelerated growth in the first two months of 2019 as it develops cutting-edge chips and expands into cloud services. But its global prospects have been clouded by President Donald Trump's administration, which is waging a campaign to block the Shenzhen-based company from supplying equipment for the fifth-generation mobile networks.

"In 2019, we are cautiously optimistic about the growth in 5G business," Guo Ping, one of the company's three rotating chairmen, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "The future of telecom industry lies in the opportunities that 5G and future generations of technologies can provide to other industries."

-- Bloomberg News

New-home sales rise 4.9% in February

WASHINGTON -- Sales of new U.S. homes climbed 4.9 percent in February, an indication that falling mortgage rates have given a boost to demand from buyers.

The Commerce Department said Friday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000 in February, an increase from an upwardly revised 636,000 in January. New-home sales were 2.8 percent higher through the first two months of 2019 than during the same period last year.

This initial rebound in sales after a weak end to 2018 bodes well for the traditional spring home-buying season that began this month. Recent gains suggest that the combination of a solid job market and rising wages has encouraged more people to purchase both new and existing homes, especially as lower mortgage rates have made their money go further.

A sharp drop in mortgage rates has eased affordability pressures and aided home buying. The median sales price of a new home in February fell 3.6 percent to $315,300.

-- The Associated Press

Consumer spending up 0.1% in January

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer spending edged up a tiny 0.1 percent in January, while incomes advanced a modest 0.2 percent in February, further evidence that economic activity may have decelerated after strong growth for most of last year.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the weak gain in consumer spending followed a 0.6 percent plunge in December that marked the biggest one-month drop in more than nine years. The 0.2 percent rise in incomes in February came after a 0.1 percent drop in incomes in January.

Many analysts believe the economy has entered a soft patch and that growth is significantly slower in the current quarter.

-- The Associated Press

Study: Film tax credit costly in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana taxpayers are losing roughly two-thirds of the money they put into the state's film tax-credit program, despite lawmakers' changes to offer fewer breaks, a new study shows.

The preliminary figures unveiled Thursday show that for every dollar spent on the tax-credit programs for the entertainment industry, state and local governments in Louisiana get about 36 cents back in tax revenue, said Michael N'dolo, vice president for Camoin Associates. The New York-based firm conducted the study for Louisiana Economic Development, and unveiled it at the Louisiana Entertainment Summit in Baton Rouge, The Advocate reported .

The study includes the sound and live entertainment industries, but the vast majority of the spending comes from the film industry, N'dolo said.

Louisiana's motion picture production tax credit reimburses film and television producers up to 40 percent of the cost of their work in the state.

-- The Associated Press

Suit challenges Poland Spring ad claim

Over the years, people who drink Poland Spring water probably made the reasonable assumption they were drinking water that was, in fact, from a spring.

They might have even imagined a spring in Maine much like the one flowing through a green hillside on the familiar logo of the country's largest bottled spring water brand.

But that is not so, according to allegations in a lawsuit that a judge mostly allowed to move forward Thursday.

Instead, the class-action lawsuit contends that Nestle Waters' marketing and sales of what it advertises as "100% Natural Spring Water" has been "a colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers."

"Not one drop" of Poland Spring water actually qualifies as spring water, the lawsuit says. It is common groundwater that has been illegally mislabeled in order to "reap massive undue sales."

On Friday, a spokesman for Nestle Waters North America said it was aware of the court's decision to let the case proceed but had not yet had a chance to thoroughly review it.

-- The New York Times

Dick's takes a hit for limiting gun sales

In February 2018, when Dick's Sporting Goods boss Ed Stack announced he was restricting gun sales at the country's largest sports retailer, he knew it would be costly.

At the time, Dick's was a major seller of firearms. Guns also drove the sale of soft goods -- boots, hats, jackets. What's more, Stack, the retailer's chief executive officer, suspected the position could drive off some of his customers on political principle. He was right.

Dick's estimates that the policy change cost the company about $150 million in lost sales for the year, an amount equivalent to 1.7 percent of annual revenue.

The company was responding to the February 2018 school massacre at Parkland, Fla. Nikolas Cruz, the shooting suspect, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick's a few months before the attack. A day after Cruz was arrested, police in Vermont apprehended a teenager with plans to shoot up his high school. He, too, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick's.

Two weeks after those arrests, Stack announced he was pulling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines out of all Dick's stores. He vowed he'd never sell another firearm to anyone under 21.

-- The New York Times

Business on 03/30/2019

Print Headline: Suit challenges Poland Spring ad claim Huawei's profit jumps to $8.8B in '18 New-home sales rise 4.9% in February Consumer spending up 0.1% in January Study: Film tax credit costly in Louisiana Di...

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