Retail Consumer Spending Increased in July: Retail sales increased by 0.7% in July, a higher increase than anticipated. This is the highest increase since January, when sales increased by nearly 3%. In comparison, sales increased by only 0.3% in June.
Online retailers saw the largest increases in July at 2%, restaurants at 1.4%, sporting goods stores at 1.5% and clothing stores at 1%.
Consumer spending decreased in certain higher-cost sectors. Furniture sales fell by 2% and cars and auto parts fell by 0.3%. Read more at Associated Press
Maui Wildfires: The death toll has reached 111 people in the Maui wildfires with another estimated 1,300 still missing. As of Thursday, crews have searched 40% of the fire disaster site according to a Maui County statement.
The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency resigned on Thursday, just one day after saying he had no regrets about not using sirens to warn residents of the wildfires. Read more at Axios & Associated Press.
Chinese Mudslide: A mudslide in Xian, China, resulted in 21 fatalities and 6 people still missing. 900 homes were left without power after high rainfall and typhoons struck the area. Read more at Reuters.
Former FBI Official Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charge: Former FBI counterintelligence official Charles McGonigal pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate sanctions on Russia by going to work for a Russian oligarch after he retired.
McGonigal confessed to accepting over $17,000 to help Russian billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska collect derogatory information about another Russian oligarch who was a business competitor. He also confessed to trying to help Deripaska get off the U.S. sanctions list. Deripaska has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2018 for reasons related to Russia's occupation of Crimea.
McGonigal was a special agent in charge of the FBI's counterintelligence division in New York from 2016 to 2018 and supervised investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska. Read more at Associated Press.
Donald Trump Indicted for Alleged Election Interference: Former President Donald Trump was indicted on Monday for his fourth time this year. This most recent indictment is in reference to his alleged efforts to flip Georgia's 2020 election results. 18 others were also indicted by the Atlanta grand jury. In total, there are 41 felony counts, which include racketeering charges, conspiracy to commit forgery and perjury.
Mortgage Rates Reach Highest Level in 21 Years: Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is now at 7.09%, its highest level in 21 years. A recent report from Realtor.com indicated that the number of available homes on the market in June was down more than 47% from the typical amount prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more at Fox Business.
Mass Shootings in US: This week, Gun Violence Archive reported a total of 13 mass shootings resulting in 55 victims injured and 7 victims dead.
Number of Mexicans Living in Poverty Falling Sharply: The number of Mexicans living in poverty fell by 8.9 million between 2020 and 2022. Increases in the minimum wage, increases in pensions and boosted welfare programs are believed to be the largest playing factors in the positive change.
The number of people living in extreme poverty also fell from 10.8 million in 2020 to 9.1 million in 2022; however, this figure still remains above the 8.7 million it was at prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more at Coneval & Positive News.
Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya.