Uncertainty over the outcome of a budget battle in Washington pushed world stock markets lower on Monday. President Barack Obama and his political opponents have failed so far to agree on a way to roll back automatic spending cuts that took effect Friday. Those cuts slash $85 billion from the nation's budget, which could slow down the economy.
A number of positive signs are starting to emerge regarding the U.S. economy, but there remain political and global headwinds that could slow growth, according to a new report. The MAPI Quarterly Economic Forecast predicts that inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) will expand by 1.8 percent in 2013 and by 2.8 percent in 2014, showing no change from MAPI’s November 2012 report.
U.S. manufacturing expanded in February at the fastest pace since June 2011, buoyed by increases in new orders and production. The third straight month of growth suggests factories may help the economy this year after slumping through most of 2012.
Tax increases. Rising gas prices. Political dysfunction in Washington. None of that kept Americans away from auto dealer showrooms in February as General Motors, Ford and other automakers posted strong sales gains. Industry analysts expect last month's sales to be up about 7 percent from a year earlier as pent-up demand and cheap financing kept the U.S. auto sales recovery powering along.
The weakest quarter for the U.S. economy in nearly two years may end up being a temporary lull. Economists think growth has begun to pick up on the strength of a sustained housing recovery and a better job market. The economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent from October from December, a government report Thursday showed.
Industry analysts and manufacturers were eagerly waiting Eaton’s 4Q reporting as the diversified international manufacturer showed the partial results of its $13.2B acquisition of Cooper Industries. Eaton CEO, Alexander M. “Sandy” Cutler, had warned analysts last quarter that the reporting would be “complex” because the results would show only one month’s (December) numbers of Cooper on its 4Q report.
Japanese manufacturing showed a faint sign of recovery in January, with factory production up 1 percent from the month before. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Thursday that the figures, the second straight monthly increase, suggested the slump in output had "bottomed out."
Airbus parent company EADS NV posted a 47 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit Wednesday after taking costly charges at its helicopter and defense electronics divisions. The aerospace giant recorded a €325 million ($425 million) net profit in the October-December period, down from the previous year's €612 million. But for the full year, its net earnings were up 19 percent at €1.23 billion from €1.03 billion in 2011.
Orders for U.S. factory goods that signal business investment plans jumped last month by the most in more than a year, suggesting companies are confident about their business prospects. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for so-called core capital goods, which include industrial machinery, construction equipment and computers, rose 6.3 percent in January from December.
First Solar, Inc. on Tuesday posted net income of $154.2M for the fourth quarter, reversing a huge loss from a year earlier, but investors were disappointed by the company's sales in the quarter and the earnings outlook for this year. Last year the company lost $413M, or $4.78 per share, on revenue of $660.4M after it reduced the value of its solar system components division and booked other one-time charges.
The political standoff over the U.S. budget is slowing the economy, more so than any hesitance by Americans to spend. That consensus emerges from the latest AP Economy Survey just as the budget impasse in Washington is about to trigger automatic cuts across the economy.
Hewlett-Packard is selling its webOS software to South Korean electronics company LG Electronics, securing a new home for a technological orphan. The deal announced Monday rids HP of the centerpiece of its ill-fated, $1.8 billion purchase of Palm Inc. three years ago.
A survey shows China's manufacturing activity this month has declined to a four-month low in a reminder of possible threats to its shaky economic recovery. HSBC Corp. said Monday the preliminary version of its purchasing managers index for February fell to 50.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. That was down from January's 52.3.
Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is up for the third consecutive month at 58.7, an increase from the January index of 54.2, reflecting industry participants’ increasing optimism despite a wary eye on economic conditions and government management of fiscal policies.
The chief executive of United Technologies Corp. expects automatic federal budget cuts will take effect in eight days, taking a nick out of earnings of the aerospace giant. CEO Louis Chenevert told investor analysts Thursday that the cuts, which are known in Washington as the "sequester," look more likely. He says earnings would be reduced by 10 cents per share in the "worst case."
German automaker Volkswagen AG says its net profit increased 41 percent for 2012 to €21.7 billion ($28.7 billion) on a 21 percent rise in revenues. Volkswagen said in a press release Friday ahead of its full-earnings next month that revenues were up to €192.7 billion. The number of vehicles delivered worldwide last year by the group topped 9 million for the first time, rising 12.2 percent to nearly 9.3 million.
Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net loss grew by 10 percent due to higher costs during the production start for the new Model S. The Palo Alto, Calif., company said in a letter to shareholders that it expects to be "slightly profitable" in the first quarter, excluding noncash option and warrant expenses.
Dell Inc. on Tuesday posted another quarter of declining sales and profits, deepening a downturn that disenchanted shareholders and culminated in the slumping personal computer maker's recent decision to take its stock off Wall Street in a $24.4 billion deal.
Japan posted a record 1.63 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) trade deficit in January as rebounding exports lagged behind surging imports of crude oil and gas due to rising prices and the weakening yen. The provisional data released Wednesday show exports for the world's third-biggest economy rose 6.4 percent to 4.8 trillion yen ($51.2 billion) in January from a year earlier, the first year-on-year increase in eight months.
U.S. wholesale prices rose only slightly in January after three straight declines, the latest sign that inflation is posing no threat. It means the Federal Reserve has room to keep interest rates at record lows without worrying about igniting inflation.
When General Motors' new full-size pickup trucks hit the U.S. market in late spring or early summer, the timing should be good, an auto industry analyst said Tuesday. Citi Investment Research analyst Itay Michaeli, in a note to investors, wrote that pickup sales in the next 12 to 18 months should outperform U.S. auto sales as a whole, and that's good news for the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
China has a new status its government doesn't want — world's biggest trader. Official Chinese and American trade data indicates China passed the United States last year in total imports and exports by a margin of $3.866 trillion to $3.822 trillion. That is about $44 billion, or just over 1 percent of China's total.
Get ready for two weeks of intensifying warnings about how crucial, popular government services are about to wither. Many of the threats could come true. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans made no progress this past week in heading off $85 billion in budget-wide cuts that automatically start taking effect March 1.
Investors will be hoping to avoid another shock when slumping personal computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. reports its latest quarterly result after the stock market closes Thursday. The results are expected to show the HP's revenue sinking from the previous year for the sixth consecutive quarter.
It was only a matter of time. With many of its debt-ridden euro partners in recession, Germany could only swim against the tide for so long. Figures Thursday showed that output in Germany, Europe's largest economy, contracted by more than anticipated in the last three months of 2012. And it was the German drop that lay behind a deepening of the recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro.