Afternoon Coffee: U.S. retail sales up slowly; Hurricane hits Nicaragua; Boost Payment Solutions teams with Global Healthcare Exchange; Tesla to join S&P 500

The U.S. Commerce Department reported on Tuesday that retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in October from the month prior, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This indicated the sixth consecutive month of growth, but the pace slowed considerably. The October number fell short of economists’ expectations of a 0.5% rise and was well below the 1.6% growth in September. Rising coronavirus cases and election uncertainty could have led to the slower growth, the article reported.

Sales dipped in certain key categories — grocery store sales dropped 0.4%, bar and restaurants declined 0.1%, and sporting goods and clothing sales fell 4.2%. Stephen Stanley, a chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities told the WSJ that consumers have responded to the coronavirus pandemic by increasing spending in certain goods like cars or home fitness equipment while cutting back on in-person services involving proximity to other people.

Hurricane Iota makes landfall as Category 4 storm

Hurricane Iota made landfall as a Category 4 storm along nearly the exactly same stretch of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast that was hit 13 days earlier by equally powerful Hurricane Eta, the Associated Press reported. It had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. Iota hit the coast about 30 miles south of the city Puerto Cabezas. It came ashore just 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta recently made landfall, also a Category 4 storm. Eta soaked the region, and many people were still trying to repair the damage from that storm, the article said. Iota was the 30th named storm, a record for the Atlantic hurricane season.

Boost Payment Solutions announces engagement with Global Healthcare Exchange

Boost Payment Solutions announced on Tuesday that it has a new engagement with Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), a healthcare trading partner network, which will focus on healthcare companies connecting with suppliers using commercial cards.

The partnership hopes to enhance the way  GHX’s customers pay suppliers that accept commercial cards and have complex settlement requirements, according to a press release announcing the deal. The optimization of payment processing can drive greater efficiency for vendors and expand utilization for healthcare institutions with commercial card programs.

“We’re excited to collaborate with GHX and to offer their portfolio of healthcare providers Boost’s suite of technology-enabled products and proven supplier enablement strategies designed to maximize commercial card use and acceptance,” Dean M. Leavitt, Founder and CEO of Boost, said in the press release. “We look forward to working with GHX and its customers to create greater operational efficiencies and drive down the cost of healthcare.”

More and more companies are turning to commercial cards as an effective cash management solution, according to the website PYMNTS.com. This is only being heightened with the COVID-19 pandemic and organizations are being more critical on how to pay or hold cash. Disruption has been especially prevalent for healthcare companies. PYMNTS.com reported that the American Hospital Association predicts that the pandemic will cost hospitals $323 billion by the end of the year.

Tesla will join the S&P 500 as one of the most valuable companies on the index

Tesla will officially be added to the S&P 500, a significant milestone that will expand its investor base and put the electric automaker in the same company as heavyweights Apple, Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft, according to Yahoo Finance.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon by the S&P Dow Jones Indices, and it sent shares 13.7% higher in after-market trading. Tesla will be added to the benchmark prior to trading on Dec. 21.

Tesla will be one of the most valuable companies on the benchmark, the article said. Its weighting is so large that the S&P is mulling whether to add the stock at the float-adjusted market capitalization weight all at once or in two tranches.

"Tesla will be one of the largest weight additions to the S&P 500 in the last decade, and consequently will generate one of the largest funding trades in S&P 500 history," S&P DJI said in a statement. "However, Tesla itself is very liquid, and adding the stock at the upcoming December quarterly rebalancing coincides with the expiration of stock options, stock futures, stock-index options and stock-index futures, which may help facilitate the funding trade."

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