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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Fewer Applying For Unemployment Benefits

June 2, 2011 8:43 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain stuck at a level that signals weak job growth. The number of applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 422,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the third drop in four weeks.

Second Hoeganaes Employee Dies From Fire Injuries

June 2, 2011 8:37 am

GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) — Two employees have died from injuries received in a fire at a Gallatin factory, bringing the total number of workers killed in accidents at the Hoeganaes Corp. plant this year to four. Meanwhile, investigators said Wednesday evening they have reached no definitive conclusions about the cause of three accidents at the facility this year.

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Businesses Cut Back On Factory Orders In April

June 2, 2011 8:35 am | by Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Businesses cut back on their orders for heavy machinery, computers and autos in April, partly because the March earthquake in Japan has made components parts harder to come by. Orders to U.S. factories fell 1.2 percent in April and a measure that signals business investment dropped 2.

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Indy 500 Hopes To Foster Another Century Of Innovation

June 1, 2011 9:34 am | by Michael Marot, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway has not changed its master plan in the last century. It is still a test facility at heart. Engineers have spent 100 years improving engines, modifying fuel mixtures, and designing new safety features, and now the 2.5-mile is ready to roll into its second century as a high-tech proving ground for the American automotive industry.

Toyota's U.S. Sales Fell 33 Percent On Earthquake Shortages

June 1, 2011 9:06 am

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota says its U.S. sales fell 33 percent in May because of earthquake-related vehicle shortages. Toyota said sales of all Toyota and Lexus cars but one — the new Scion tC — declined from last May. Among SUVs and trucks, only the Tacoma pickup saw sales increase over last May.

Judge Refuses To Reduce Fines For Burning Death

June 1, 2011 8:55 am

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge has declined to reduce the $1 million fine and $2 million in restitution he ordered paid by a Colorado company that admitted partial responsibility for the death of a Baton Rouge plant worker. On Tuesday, Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson said Chemical & Metal Industries Inc.

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GM, Ford Sales Fell Due To High Gas Prices

June 1, 2011 8:50 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales cooled off in May after setting a torrid pace earlier in the year. General Motors' sales fell 1.2 percent as it offered fewer deals to customers and cut sales to rental car companies. The largest U.S. car company says it sold 221,192 vehicles last month, led by smaller, more fuel-efficient models.

Feds: Xcel Knew Of Safety Issues That Killed Five

June 1, 2011 8:46 am

DENVER (AP) — Federal prosecutors say Xcel Energy knew of workplace safety violations that led to the death of five workers. A defense attorney Wednesday shot back that it was an Xcel contractor that violated regulations and called the deaths an accident. Xcel Energy and a subsidiary, Public Service Company of Colorado, are each charged in federal court with five counts of violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the October 2007 fire inside a water tunnel at the Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colo.

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Geithner: Gov't Will Lose $14 Billion From Auto Bailout

June 1, 2011 8:37 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Wednesday that the government will lose about $14 billion in taxpayer funds from the bailout of the U.S. auto industry. In a report from the president's National Economic Council, officials said that figure is down from the 60 percent the Treasury Department originally estimated the government would lose following its $80 billion bailout of Chrysler and General Motors in 2009.

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Pang Da Shovels Over More Cash To Keep Saab Alive

June 1, 2011 4:58 am | by Louise Nordstrom, Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Chinese investor Pang Da has placed a $22 million (€15 million) cash order for 630 cars from Spyker NV's ailing unit Saab, the Swedish car maker said Wednesday. The new order comes after an earlier one for 1,300 vehicles as part of last month's pact under which Pang Da agreed to buy a 24 percent stake in the Dutch company for €65 million.

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China's Manufacturing Slips Amid Power Shortages

June 1, 2011 4:55 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — China's manufacturers suffered sluggish growth in orders in May as widespread power shortages and inflation-fighting curbs on credit dampened demand, surveys showed Wednesday. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index fell to 52 from 52.

Japan Trying To Make Business "Super Cool"

June 1, 2011 4:44 am | by Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese government wants the country's suit-loving salarymen to be bold this summer. Ditch the stuffy jacket and tie. And for the good of a country facing a power crunch, go light and casual. Japan's "Super Cool Biz" campaign kicked off Wednesday with a government-sponsored fashion show featuring outfits appropriate for the office yet cool enough to endure the sweltering heat.

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Burned Worker Dies After Combustible Dust Fire

June 1, 2011 4:34 am

GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) — An employee injured in a fire at a Gallatin chemical plant last week has died. Eric Hulsey is the third employee killed in accidents at the Hoeganaes (HAY'-gan-eez) Corp. plant this year. A spokeswoman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center told The Tennessean that Hulsey died on Tuesday evening.

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ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Still Growing, Albeit Slower

June 1, 2011 4:31 am | by Daniel Wagner, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing activity expanded in May at the slowest pace in 20 months, the latest sign that a sharp rise in energy prices is hampering economic growth. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 53.

Toyota Recalls 106,000 Prius Hybrids For Faulty Steering

June 1, 2011 4:28 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota recalled 106,000 first-generation Prius hybrid cars globally on Wednesday for faulty steering caused by a nut that may come loose. The single minor accident suspected of being related to the problem was reported in the U.S., according to Toyota Motor Corp. The latest recall from Toyota, which has taken hit to its reputation from massive recalls worldwide, affects 48,000 Prius vehicles in Japan, starting with the first Prius models that went on sale in 1997, and those manufactured through 2003.

Court Changes Patent System In Deep Fryer Ruling

May 31, 2011 9:32 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld a $5 million judgment to the maker of a patented deep fryer, but in a ruling that makes it harder to claim patent infringement. The justices voted 8-1 Tuesday in favor of France-based SEB, S.A., on claims that a Hong Kong company copied features of its innovative home fryer in which the outside stays cool to the touch.

Toyota: Production Will Be At 90 Percent In June

May 31, 2011 9:21 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota production in Japan will recover to 90 percent of pre-disaster levels in June, faster than the world's biggest automaker had projected and highlighting its power to bounce back from the supply disruptions caused by the March earthquake and tsunami. The disasters in northeastern Japan had damaged the plants of key parts suppliers, disrupting production at all Japanese automakers.

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Analyst: High Natural Gas Prices Can't Last

May 31, 2011 9:17 am

BOSTON (AP) — A recent rise in natural gas prices is unlikely to last, as U.S. nuclear capacity returns in coming weeks and gas demand consequently eases, a Raymond James analyst said on Tuesday. The analyst, J. Marshall Adkins, wrote in a research note that a surge in springtime nuclear plant refueling and maintenance "may be giving the natural gas market a temporary 'sugar high.

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General Dynamics Hires 100 Mass. Workers

May 31, 2011 9:12 am

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) — General Dynamics Corp. has hired more than 100 employees to help work on a defense contract it was awarded by the Navy in December. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems ultimately hopes to hire 500 workers over the next five years to build, test and deliver the electronics systems for the Littoral Combat Ships.

Nokia Warning Sends Stock Plummeting To 13-Year Low

May 31, 2011 9:10 am | by Matti Huuhtanen, Associated Press

HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia Corp. on Tuesday warned its second-quarter sales and margins will be much lower than expected as rivals challenge the world's largest handset maker in both smartphones and low-end devices. The announcement sent Nokia shares down more than 17 percent to a 13-year low of euro4.

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