Talking Points


Investors dump GE shares


Investors dump GE shares

It was a turnaround for General Electric Co. — but not of the kind management was hoping to see. Institutional investors dumped more than 126 million GE shares during the three months ended in March, reversing three straight quarters of net purchases, according to regulatory filings data compiled by Bloomberg. The exodus came as the industrial behemoth plunged 23 percent. Tuesday was the deadline for investment managers with more than $100 million in assets to file their first-quarter 13F reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some of the notable funds that reported reductions in their exposure to GE include Morgan Stanley Capital Services, Renaissance Technologies, Pimco, Scotia Capital, and Harris Associates. Highbridge Capital Management and Alyeska Investment Group exited their positions. Big investors pulled out of GE as they found chief executive John Flannery’s strategic plan uninspiring. While the shares have bounced back about 15 percent from this year’s low after the company reaffirmed its profit forecast, they’re still trading almost 50 percent below where they were at this time last year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Partners to expand into New Hampshire

Partners HealthCare is in talks for another northern expansion, this time with the leadership of Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. Partners’ Massachusetts General Hospital has signed a letter of intent to create a new regional network in New Hampshire with Exeter Health Resources and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H. (Wentworth is a relatively recent arrival in the Partners family.) The new corporation would be a subsidiary of Mass. General. — JON CHESTO


BitSight looking at space in the Back Bay

Cybersecurity ratings firm BitSight is setting its sights on a move to the Back Bay, to a space that is roughly double the size of its existing headquarters in Cambridge. The venture capital-backed firm has leased 48,000 square feet across two floors in the Prudential Center, at the 111 Huntington Ave. tower owned by Boston Properties. BitSight currently employs about 145 people in Cambridge, but will likely have 170 by January and another 30-plus by the end of next year after it moves to Boston. — JON CHESTO


Amazon offering Prime members discounts at Whole Foods


It’s Prime time at Whole Foods: Amazon is rolling out discounts for Prime members at the organic grocer. The benefits started Wednesday at Whole Foods stores in Florida and will expand nationwide this summer. Prime members will get an additional 10 percent off sale items and exclusive deals on certain groceries. This week in Florida, for example, Prime members can get $2 off a pound of organic strawberries or save $10 a pound on wild halibut steaks. Amazon wouldn’t say if it plans to add the benefits to Whole Foods stores in Canada and the United Kingdom. Since it bought Whole Foods last year, Inc. has cut prices on some groceries, extended its 5 percent cash back Amazon rewards credit card to Whole Foods purchases, and offers two-hour delivery in several cities through its Prime Now service. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


In choosing names, firms favor nautical terms and cities in New England

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Hedge funds don’t just cluster around the same stocks. They also find the same inspiration for the names of their firms, according to research by SumZero. The investment network website used natural language processing and machine learning to analyze the names of more than five thousand hedge funds. Popular themes that popped up on their word chart included nautical terms, alcoholic drinks, and cities in New England. SumZero is collecting the data as part of an effort to better understand the impact names have on performance and asset gathering. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Apartment construction down in April

US builders broke ground on fewer apartment buildings last month, pushing overall home construction down 3.7 percent from March. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million in April, lowest since December. Apartment construction tumbled 12.6 percent to 374,000. Construction of single-family homes blipped up 0.1 percent to 894,000. Still, housing starts are up 10.5 percent from April 2017 on a 7.2 percent increase in single-family homes, and a 19.1 percent surge in apartments. The pace of homebuilding is still below its long-run average of about 1.5 million a year, which has led to a shortage of homes on the market. Home builders are struggling with higher prices for lumber and other building materials and a shortage of skilled laborers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Walmart teams up with Lord & Taylor

Walmart, long known for its ‘‘everyday low prices’’ mantra and as a place for basics, wants shoppers to think of it as a source for style and upscale fashion as it tries to reach more affluent customers. The company is launching the Lord & Taylor store on its website in the coming weeks with more than 125 brands such as Lucky Brand, Vince Camuto, and Tommy Bahama, reflecting its effort to broaden its customer base, drive growth, and compete with Amazon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Macy’s profit up

With customers in a mood to spend, particularly on clothing, Macy’s surpassed all profit and revenue expectations for the first quarter of the year and raised its outlook. Its shares surged 10.83 percent Wednesday, and the results helped the stocks of other department store chains, all trying to appeal to shoppers who are spending more online. Macy’s, the first of the major department store to release its quarterly results, has been expanding its store label brands, adding more of the off-price Backstage stores, and upgrading its checkout technology to make it faster and easier for shoppers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Bank of England official apologizes for calling UK economy ‘menopausal’


Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent was forced to apologize after describing the UK economy as “menopausal,” putting the central bank in a new communications controversy. The remarks in an interview with the Daily Telegraph sparked complaints about sexism and ageism. The timing was particularly unfortunate for the BOE, coming two days after Governor Mark Carney hosted a conference on diversity in central banking. They follow a slew of criticism over the bank’s messaging on monetary policy, which dominated Carney’s interest rate press conference last week. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Southwest completes inspections of engine fan blades

Southwest Airlines Co. said it has completed inspections of 35,500 aircraft-engine fan blades without finding any faults like the one that destroyed an engine in flight last month, leading to a passenger’s death. A fan blade sheared off during a trip to Dallas from New York on April 17, destroying an engine and sending metal flying. One piece broke a window and a woman was partially sucked out before being pulled back in. The passenger, Jennifer Riordan, died from multiple injuries. Flight 1380 made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Southwest went beyond the inspections required by US regulators, examining blades on all of its CFM56-7B engines, which power 703 of the Dallas-based carrier’s 717 aircraft. The turbines are built by CFM International Inc., a partnership between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA. — BLOOMBERG NEWS