Dollars & Sense

Last of stimulus checks in the mail

The government Friday sent out the last of the economic stimulus checks for people who filed tax returns before April 15. But the Internal Revenue Service stressed that it's not too late for those who haven't yet filed returns to benefit from the payments. The tax agency said it will continue processing tax returns and issuing stimulus checks for much of the year. In particular, it is urging some 5 million Social Security recipients and veterans who don't normally need to file returns to do so this year so they can qualify for checks. It urged this group, and people who received extensions for filing, to file by Oct. 15 to ensure they receive a payment before the end of the year.

GE reports profit decline of 6 percent

Industrial and financial conglomerate General Electric Co. said Friday its profit fell 6 percent in the second quarter, and has agreed to sell its Japanese consumer finance business for $5.4 billion. Fairfield-based GE earned $5.07 billion, or 51 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $5.38 billion, or 52 cents per share. Revenue rose to $46.89 billion from $42.38 billion a year earlier. On the basis of continuing operations, GE said it earned $5.39 billion, or 54 cents per share. GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt told analysts in a conference call Friday that growth internationally is "offsetting a sluggish U.S. economy." GE's long-term positioning outside the United States has shown benefits in the second quarter, he said.

Trade gap narrows as exports climb

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in May as exports, including industrial supplies and consumer goods, climbed to all-time highs. The latest snapshot of trade activity, reported by the Commerce Department on Friday, showed that the nation's trade gap, thanks largely to the declining dollar, decreased to $59.8 billion. That was down 1.2 percent from April's trade deficit and was the best showing since March. The improvement came even as imports, including crude oil, hit new record highs. The trade deficit narrowed in May because exports grew faster than imports.

Coming Sunday

Consumer Reports reveals the results of its one-year exposure tests of wood, composite, plastic and aluminum decking.