The United States economy showed last month why it remains the envy of industrialized nations: In the face of tax increases and federal spending cuts, employers added a solid 165,000 jobs in April. The U.S. economy is now boasting the lowest unemployment rates in four years.
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Chinese manufacturing growth slowed in April as global demand weakened, adding to signs its shaky recovery might be weakening, a survey showed Thursday. HSBC Corp.'s purchasing managers index fell to 50.4 from March's 51.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show an expansion in activity.
Orders to U.S. factories fell in March by the largest amount in seven months but a key category that signals business investment plans managed a small increase. Factory orders dropped 4 percent in March, reflecting a big plunge in the volatile category of commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated. The job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.
New cars were key for General Motors' in the first quarter. New trucks will be the key to the rest of this year. Two new Opels — the Mokka subcompact SUV and Adam small car — helped GM stanch its first-quarter losses in Europe, while the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Malibu sedans took China by storm. GM's worldwide sales rose almost 4 percent in the first three months.
Electric car maker CODA Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday after selling just 100 cars and said it plans to quit the auto business altogether. The Los Angeles-based parent of CODA Automotive filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court in Delaware. A consortium of debtors plans to acquire CODA for $25 million, according to a company statement.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in March for a second month as the daily flow of imported crude oil dropped to the lowest level in 17 years. The deficit with China hit a three-year low. The trade deficit decreased to $38.8 billion, an 11 percent drop from February's $43.6 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that it's adding 2,000 workers to the Missouri plant that makes the F-150 pickup because of surging U.S. truck demand. The company plans to add a shift with 900 workers in the third quarter of this year to make pickups. That's in addition to the 1,100 workers Ford will hire to make the new Transit van. Those workers will start in the fourth quarter.
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson tells Fortune that the second generation of the Chevy Volt will be cheaper to make and profitable. Looking to the future, GM hopes to have a half million cars on the road with some form of electrification by 2017.
Ford, GM, Chrysler and Nissan all reported double-digit U.S. sales increases last month, signaling the best April for car and truck sales in six years. A rebound in pickup truck sales led the way, especially for the Detroit automakers. Small businesses are replacing aging trucks that they've kept since the Great Recession.
U.S. factory activity expanded at a slower pace in April, held back by weaker hiring and less company stockpiling. The report is the latest sign that economic growth may be slowing this spring. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 50.7 last month.
Alcoa Inc. said Wednesday that it might reduce production because of a slump that has cut aluminum prices by more than one-third since they peaked in 2011. The reduction could affect up to 11 percent of Alcoa's aluminum-smelting capacity, a cut of 460,000 tons of capacity. The company has already idled 13 percent of its capacity.
Strong demand for the Ram pickup truck helped drive Chrysler's sales up 11 percent last month as the company posted its best April in six years. The increase is another sign that Americans continue to buy cars and trucks despite high unemployment and mixed economic signals.
Nissan is cutting prices on seven of its 18 models in the U.S., hoping its cars and trucks will show up in more Internet searches by shoppers. The price cuts vary with the amount of equipment on each model and run from 2.7 percent, or $580, on the top-selling Altima midsize car to 10.7 percent, or $4,400, on the Armada big SUV.
Apple Inc. sold $17 billion in bonds Tuesday in a record deal spurred by the company's plan to placate its frustrated shareholders. The Cupertino, California-based company sold the bonds in its first debt issue since the 1990s to raise money to pass along to shareholders through dividend payments and stock buybacks.
A regional utility has reached a tentative agreement with an aluminum smelter on electric rates that would keep the facility in western Kentucky open. Media report that Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. and Hawesville-based Century Aluminum announced the agreement on Monday.
Brazilian plane maker Embraer says it's signed a firm order with United Airlines for 30 regional jets. With the option for United to buy an additional 40 jets, Embraer says the deal could eventually be worth nearly $4 billion. The first planes are to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014.
Caterpillar says it plans to close its Summerville remanufacturing plant next year, a move that will put 280 people out of work. The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the company said Monday that the decision came after an extensive strategic review of the business.
Japan manufacturing and employment showed slight improvements in March, buttressing hopes that the economy may be headed for a moderate recovery. Factory output rose 0.2 percent, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Tuesday, in the fourth straight monthly increase. It pointed to strength in chemicals, electrical components, telecommunications equipment and steam turbines.
Executives with Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. say they will build a new tire plant in Mississippi because they see a global supply shortage for tires. The company plans to invest $300 million, hiring 500 people, in a first phase, and could invest $1.2 billion, hiring 2,000 people, over time. State and local governments could give more than $340 million in aid and tax breaks.
U.S. Steel says it lost $73 million in the first quarter because of tough competition and rising prices. A year ago it made money in its flat-rolled steel segment, but that was a money-loser in the most recent quarter. Production costs rose, but selling prices didn't.
With the backdrop of an uncertain economy, shrinking unions and company cost-cutting, Goodyear and the Steelworkers are negotiating on a new national contract covering 8,000 tire workers at six plants. The first round of talks in Cincinnati ended Thursday and recessed.
Weak sales in Europe and lower profits at U.S. partner Chrysler pushed Italian carmaker Fiat to a loss in the first quarter. Fiat SpA on Monday said it lost 83 million euros ($108 million) during the first three months of the year, compared with a restated first-quarter profit of 35 million euros in the same period of 2012.
Chrysler's first-quarter profit tumbled 65 percent as shipments of cars and trucks fell while it prepared to launch several key new vehicles. The Auburn Hills, Michigan, company said Monday that it earned $166 million in the January-March quarter, compared with $473 million a year ago. Revenue fell 6 percent to $15.4 billion.