The U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year in the face of a harsh winter. The slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather. Growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent rate in the previous quarter. Many economists said the government’s first estimate of quarterly growth was skewed by weak figures early in the quarter, noting that several sectors rebounded in March.
Private employers add 220,000 jobs, survey finds
U.S. businesses boosted hiring in April, according to a private survey, a sign the economy may improve after a sluggish start this year. Payroll processer ADP said Wednesday that private employers added 220,000 jobs in April, the most since November and up from 209,000 in March.
Walmart dives into auto insurance
Walmart is bringing one-stop shopping to another area: auto insurance. The world’s largest retailer has teamed up with AutoInsurance.com to let shoppers quickly find and buy insurance policies online in real time to cut down costs. The service is available immediately in eight states — Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. It will be available nationwide in the next few months.
Energizer to split into two companies
Energizer Holdings plans to split into two separate and publicly traded companies, one selling batteries and other household items, the other selling personal care brands such as Schick razors and Edge shaving gel. The St. Louis company said Wednesday that the split will give each company a clearer focus and let them make a more transparent case to investors. The split will be structured as a tax-free spinoff to existing Energizer shareholders, the company said. Energizer did not say what names the companies would operate under.