Rental rates in Chattanooga jump 15.2% in past year and more business news

Chattanooga rents up 15.2% in the past year

The price of an average one-bedroom apartment in Chattanooga jumped by 15.2% in the past year to a record high of $1,140 a month, according to the newest Zumper’s National Rent Index report on rental rates across America.

Rental rates for one-bedroom units in Chattanooga were still 18.2% below the US. average of $1,393 for a one-bedroom apartment, leaving Chattanooga as the 59th most expensive city among the top 100 U.S. cities.

Zumper said the typical two-bedroom apartment rents in Chattanooga for $1,290 a month., also up 15.2% in the past year.

The national median one-bedroom rent is up 12.3 percent year-over-year, which Zumper’s Jeff Andrews said “is largely tied to the home sales market,” where limited supplies are driving up prices.

“As home prices rise, they price out renters who would otherwise buy,” Andrews said. “And because the home sales market has gotten so hyper competitive, many frustrated renters in the market for a home have simply given up because the process is so exhausting and demoralizing. These renters also have high incomes relative to other renters—they’re in the bubble of being able to buy a house after all—so the home sales market is keeping high-income tenants in the rental market longer than they want to be. Thus, rent rises.”


Ford CEO says no plan to spin off EV business

The CEO of Ford Motor Co. says the automaker has no plans to spin off its electric vehicle or internal combustion businesses.

But Jim Farley says Ford is reinventing itself to remove costs and ramp up for large-scale EV and software sales. Farley told the Wolfe Research virtual global auto technology conference Wednesday that Ford needs to hit Tesla-like profit margins by using common electric motors, electronic components and other parts across all sizes of vehicles. To do that, he said the company needs radically different human talent than it now has.

Farley also said Ford has too many people and too much complexity, and it doesn’t have the expertise to transition to battery-electric vehicles.


Lowe’s expects profits to continue in 2022

Lowe’s Cos., the nation’s second-largest home improvement chain behind Home Depot, offered an upbeat annual outlook after reporting strong fiscal fourth-quarter results that showed a still sizzling housing market.

Well before the pandemic, Lowe’s, under the stewardship of its CEO Marvin Ellison, overhauled an antiquated website and increased Lowe’s business with professional customers like electricians and contractors. That helped the company to pivot during the pandemic, when more people were relying on online services. And even as Lowe’s now deals with industrywide supply chain issues and higher costs, it’s using its clout to keep shelves stocked while trying to tame inflation at its stores.

Ellison told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 50% of its revenue in the most recent third and fourth quarters came from inflation. “The customer is willing to pay more if the price is competitive,” he said.

Lowe’s is also expanding to new areas to keep sales growing. The chain announced in January a partnership with Petco Health and Wellness Company to create pet supply shops under the Petco brand at its stores. The plans call for opening nearly 20 shops in Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina by next month. It’s also tapping into the aging baby boomer market; it launched an initiative last year to create a one-stop destination at its stores aimed at seniors who want to stay in their homes.

Lowe’s said that it earned $1.21 billion, or $1.78 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 28. The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.72 per share.

The home improvement retailer posted revenue of $21.34 billion in the period, also surpassing Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $20.82 billion. Sales at its established stores rose 5.1%.


Automaker Stellantis reaps $15 billion profit

Automaker Stellantis says it made a solid 13.4 billion euros in its first year. That’s three times the profit from the two separate companies that combined to make Stellantis at the start of the 2021.

The company said Wednesday that the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group paid off in cost efficiencies worth more than 3 billion euros. The company scaled up its production of battery cars, joining a global trend as it made almost 400,000 low-emission vehicles. The company also announced that its 43,000 U.S. workers represented by the United Auto Workers union will get record profit-sharing checks of $14,670.


BNSF’s biggest unions blocked from striking

A federal judge has extended an order preventing the two largest unions at BNSF from going on strike over a new attendance policy the railroad imposed this month.

The judge ruled that a strike by the unions that represent 17,000 BNSF workers would violate federal law. He determined the issue is a minor dispute under their contracts, so it must be settled through negotiations or arbitration. Union leaders said they were “infuriated” by the ruling and will consider appealing.

The unions argued that the new rules discourage workers from taking sick time during the pandemic and penalize employees for missing work for any reason.


EPA fines Tesla over air violations

Tesla has been penalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a $275,000 fine — about what it would cost to buy two high-end Tesla Model S Plaid automobiles. The company sold more than 936,000 cars in 2021 and boasts a market value of $800 billion.

The settlement with Tesla “reflects EPA’s continued commitment to ensure compliance with federal clean air laws,” agency regional administrator Martha Guzman said in a prepared statement.

The agency noted Tesla’s use of toxic chemicals in its paint shop — formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene, and xylene, “known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious side effects.” Any automaker’s paint shop emits the same chemicals, but EPA regulations have been set to minimize emissions and to protect worker and public health.

The EPA didn’t quantify the level of excess toxins emitted from the Tesla plant. One of the violations cited by the agency, however, is “failing to collect and keep all required records associated with the calculation of hazardous air pollutants emission rate” for the paint shop.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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