Rob Black's "Winners & Losers" May 31 - May Tough Month on the Market, NYC Banning Big Soda, CA Pay Cuts

By: Rob Black - Thu, 31 May 2012 16:44:51 -0800

Loser: S&P 500 Rough May Closes Weak

Stocks fell, capping the biggest monthly decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since September, as disappointment with American economic reports overshadowed optimism that Greece will stay in the euro.

Energy  shares dropped the most among 10 groups in the S&P 500, while Airlines jumped 3.1 percent as oil had the biggest monthly decline in more than three years.

There’s less of a growth backstop to the global economy. The U.S. has held the position of stabilizing factor amid all the concern about Europe’s crisis. To the extent that the latest numbers suggest that momentum in the U.S. is slowing, that will make investors more nervous.

Equities fell as data showed the U.S. economy grew more slowly in the first quarter than previously estimated and business activity expanded in May at the slowest pace in more than two years.

 The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose.

Winner: NYC Seeks Ban on Super-Size Soft Drinks

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg intends to restrict sales of sugary soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces a cup in city restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas.
The move to ban super-sized sugared soft drinks, is the latest of several anti-obesity and nutrition initiatives undertaken by the administration.

In 2008, the city required restaurant chains to post calorie-counts on menus.  In 2006 and 2007, banned artery-clogging trans-fats from restaurants and prepared foods. In 2003, Bloomberg blocked the beverages from vending machines in schools and city-owned buildings.

The proposal probably won’t have too big an impact on the likes of Coke and Pepsi. Most of their volume sales goes through convenience and grocery stores.

U.S. soft drink sales have fallen for seven straight years.

The largest driver of increases in obesity and caloric consumption is sugary drinks. More than 35 percent of U.S. adults and about 17 percent of youths -- or roughly 90 million people -- are considered obese. Soft drink makers say their products make up 7 percent of the average American’s diet, too little to be the cause of obesity.

Winner: California Lawmakers Get 5% Pay Cut

California Governor Jerry Brown, along with lawmakers and other statewide elected officials, will take a 5 percent pay cut.

Brown’s pay will drop  to $165,288 from $173,987 and lawmakers’ base salaries to $90,526 from $95,291.

This  follows the governor’s budget proposal to temporarily reduce the state’s personnel costs by 5 percent, mainly by cutting back workers’ hours.

This may not make a dent in the deficit but it does send a message.

The changes won’t take effect until December, and could be repealed before the end of June if a budget agreement eliminates the need for the state payroll reduction.

 Brown is  facing a $15.7 billion budget gap through June 2013.  He is seeking savings in a state where unionized public workers are paid more than peers in other states, and civil-service protections hamper dismissals.

Brown’s latest budget proposal counts on passage of a ballot measure to temporarily raise sales and some income taxes, while reducing spending on education, public safety and services for the needy.

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