Weekly Market Update


Thursday, May 31, 2018

U.S. economic growth was slightly lower than initially thought in the first quarter. GDP increased at a 2.2% annual rate instead of the previously reported 2.3%, according to the Commerce Department's second estimate of first-quarter activity, released Wednesday. The Commerce Department also noted that corporate income taxes decreased by $117.4 billion, increasing after-tax corporate profits by 5.9% last quarter. It's unclear whether the $1.5 trillion income tax cut, which came into effect in January, will spur faster economic growth this year and lift annual GDP growth nearer to the Trump administration's 3% target .

In Other News

  • Walmart Inc. will fund college degrees for its U.S. workforce, the latest benefit rolled out by the nation's largest private employer in an effort to reduce turnover. The retailer's 1.5 million employees can now pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in business or supply-chain management at three nonprofit schools for $1 a day.
  • Starting this fall, the University of Memphis will become the first in the country to accept the Folds of Honor scholarship, which currently gives $5,000 to students whose parents or spouses were killed or severely injured while enlisted as active duty service members. Additionally, the school will no longer charge tuition for the spouses or children of fallen armed service members.
  • The Trump administration plans to limit the duration of some visas issued to Chinese citizens in response to concerns about intellectual property theft. The new policy will allow U.S. officials to put a one-year cap on visas for Chinese graduate students who are "studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing."
  • Georgia State University raised its six-year graduation rate from 32% in 2003 to 54% in 2017. The increased was driven by more comprehensive tutoring, adaptive-learning technology, removing unintended academic barriers, and investing in professional advisors, among other factors.

Rating Agency Update

  • Moody's assigned A2 to St. Mary's College of Maryland's Series 2018A Academic Fees and Auxiliary Facilities Fees Refunding Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's assigned Aa3 to Wake Forest University's Series 2018 Educational Facilities Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assigned AA+ to the University of Utah's Series 2018A General Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assessed Southwest Baptist University's rating as BBB-. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assessed the University of Missouri's rating as AA+. The outlook is stable.