Longest winning streak in six months on Wall Street

The stock market logged its longest winning streak in six months Monday as another big week for company earnings began.

Among the winners that helped propel the streak: Halliburton, an oil and gas drilling company, rose after reporting a first-quarter profit on rising revenue in the Middle East and Asia. Toymaker Hasbro gained after it said it returned to profitability in its first quarter, driven by sales of girls’ toys such as My Little Pony and Nerf Rebelle. Netflix surged after the close after the company said its earnings surged as it attracted more subscribers.

Union drops appeal of defeat in Volkswagen vote

The United Auto Workers dropped its appeal of a worker vote against unionizing at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, a move that the union said should put pressure on Republican politicians to quickly approve incentives the German automaker is seeking to expand its lone U.S. assembly plant.

The prolonged fight over labor issues at the Chattanooga facility appeared headed for a lengthy National Labor Relations Board appeal until the UAW announced an hour before a scheduled hearing that it was ending its challenge. The February vote went against the union 712-626.

Some Republican lawmakers had blamed the appeal for holding up expansion plans at the plant – and the UAW says that perceived obstacle is now out of the way.

USDA establishes program to invest in rural businesses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday a new $150 million program designed to provide investment capital to help small agriculture-related business in rural areas with cash needed to expand.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in Cedar Rapids the formation of the first Rural Business Investment Company, a for-profit firm licensed by the USDA to invest in businesses that otherwise might not have the capital to increase business opportunities.

Higher costs pressured businesses in first quarter

Rising costs for materials and labor appear to be pressuring businesses, according to a quarterly survey from the National Association for Business Economics.

During the first quarter of the year, 31 percent of businesses surveyed reported higher material costs, more than double the 15 percent that saw costs rise in the previous survey. Additionally, 35 percent reported rising wages and salaries at their businesses in the past three months, up from 23 percent in January.

– From news service reports