Summer Sales Up: Feeds Growth Expectations

Retail Sales Going Up
Retail Sales Going Up

The US Department of Commerce announced an increase in retail sales by 0.6 percent in August, based on increased car sales and a wide range of other goods. July showed a 0.3 percent rise sales as well.

These figures, combined with an improved measure of consumer confidence, which reached a 14-month high in September, are allaying fears about the US economy, helping to spur further growth.

“It is further indication that the underlying positive momentum in the US economy is being sustained,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities.

The consumer sentiment index of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan, reached 84.6 in the early days of September, which was the highest number sinc3e July 2013. In August the index was at 82.5.

Stansberry & Associates Likely Cause of Dramatic Stock Price Rise

Stansberry and Heat Biologics
Share price rose after Stansberry recommendation

A recommendation by an investment newsletter, Small Stock Specialist, published by Stansberry & Associates, appears to be responsible for a surge in the stock price of Heat Biologics, a company that develops treatments for bladder and lung cancer.

In mid-August it was announced that Heat Biologics, a Durham, South Carolina-based company, had received $7.5 million in debt financing, enough capital to pursue the development of cancer-fighting drugs through the first quarter of 2016, and perhaps beyond.

That announcement, which was made on a Monday, came immediately after Heat Biologics’ share price soared by 61 percent during the previous Thursday and Friday. That incredible increase in stock price came right after Stansberry & Associates’ investor’s newsletter, Small Stock Specialist, recommended investors purchase the stock.

“Considering Heat Biologics’ revolutionary cancer approach,” the Stansberry newsletter stated, “the stock is a downright steal at current levels.”

Heat Biologics received their financing from Square 1 Bank, a fellow Durham-based company. The bank has a track record of working with small companies in the Durham area.

When Stansberry made its assessment, it was not so concerned that currently Heat has no products on the market. They focused instead on the fact that Heat is deep within the development of drugs for bladder and lung cancer. They are already conducting Phase 2 trials of the bladder cancer treatment, with initial results expected during the third quarter of 2016. Phase 2 trial of the lung cancer drug has already commenced. Jeff Wolf, CEO of Heat reacted to the announcement of the new financing:

“The strategy is to continue doing what we are doing and progress our clinical trials,” said Wolf.

Unusual Travel Destination for Business & Pleasure Says Nasib Hasanov

Exotic travel has become big business, and for good reason. As more people have expendable income, they search for the next rush of excitement – the next place to see. Businesspeople may also be looking for the next unique location to work their trade. And one little known location is Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Here are some tips for exploring this oasis and enjoying the sites along the way.

Certainly, as Nasib Hasanov, Azerbaijan tour guide explains, the old town is a must-see. The walled fortress can be seen in one day on foot. Make sure to look at the Guz Qalasi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Shirvan Shahs is the highlight of the Old City and the Maiden’s Tower is another stop along the way. There are some great sites outside of the city on the Absheron Peninsula as well.

More ideas include the Atashgah Fire Temple, the Yanar Dagh which is a mountain that is on fire continually, and the Qala. Nasib Hasanov recommends that every visitor see the Pantomima theater and the Baku Entertainment Center.

Another spot that is quite interesting for tourists is the Hamam Mehellesi Public Baths. These are the oldest baths in Baku and make for a very interesting experience.

For those who love museums there is the Azeri National Costume Museum, The Taghiyev History Museum, the Latif Karimov Carpet and Applied Arts Museum and the Home of Jafar Jabbarli.

As Nasib Hasanov, Azerbaijan tour guide explains, there is something for everyone in this magical city and it’s certainly an out-of-the-ordinary travel destination for today’s business executives and everyone else.

US District Court Dismisses Apartheid Suit Against Ford and IBM

After lingering in the US justice system for 12 years, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit which accused the Ford Motor Company and IBM of aiding and abetting human rights violations in what was then apartheid South Africa.

US District Judge Shira Scheindlin justified the dismissal by explaining that the plaintiffs, who are black South Africans, did not show “relevant conduct” within the US by IBM and Ford to find the companies responsible.

IBM and Ford, in addition to other companies, were accused of helping the government of South Africa, which was practicing apartheid at the time; commit serious human rights violations including torture and murder, by selling military vehicles and computers to the security forces of the regime.

The lawsuit was brought under a 1789 law known as the Alien Tort Statute. This law allows non-US citizens to bring lawsuits against US entities who may have committed crimes violating international law. In April last year the US Supreme Court said that the law only covered laws broken in the US; or violations outside the US that “touch and concern” US territory “with sufficient force.”

The following August the federal appeals court in Manhattan asserted the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that the cases against IBM and Ford should be summarily dismissed.
This past April Judge Scheindlin allowed the plaintiffs to have just one more chance to try and meet the standards set by the Supreme Court’s decision. This past week Scheindlin announced that the plaintiffs did not meet that standard. She said that any supposed violations of international law were performed by the company’s South African subsidiaries, and off of US soil.

“It’s been 12 years. We’re devastated by the decision,” said Diane Sammons, a partner at Nagel Rice in Roseland, New Jersey, who represents some of the plaintiffs.

New Home Sales Stuck in the Mud

New Home Sales Slower than Expected
New Home Sales Slower than Expected

The Commerce Department announced disappointing new home sales for the month of July, worrying officials that an important source of jobs is still showing signs of weakness.

The decline in sales of new homes was 2.4 percent during the month from June to July, down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000. In a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, prominent economists had predicted a yearly figure of 425,000.

New home sales have consistently refused to get out of the starting gate, staying stuck in the 2013 figures which totaled 429,000 new homes sold. In contrast the numbers for already existing homes have continued to climb, with four months in a row of better sales through July.

The reason economists focus on the strength of new home sales, despite this sector only representing 10 percent of US home buying, is because building homes usually provides high-paying, middle-class jobs.