Japanese manufacturers are growing increasingly pessimistic, according to a survey released Friday that added to gloom over the economic outlook ahead of Sunday's parliamentary election. The Bank of Japan's "tankan" index for the December quarter slumped to minus 12 from minus 3 in the previous quarter, a result that was much worse than expected. A reading below zero means pessimistic views outnumber optimists.
China's manufacturing activity rose to a 14-month high in December, adding to signs the world's second-largest economy is recovering, but export orders weakened, a survey showed Friday. HSBC Corp. said the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 50.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 represent expanding activity. That was up from November's 50.5.
U.S. factories rebounded in November from Superstorm Sandy, boosting production of cars, equipment and appliances. The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output increased 1.1 percent in November from October. That offset a 1 percent decline in the previous, which was blamed on the storm.
Volkswagen AG says group sales through the first 11 months of 2012 have already surpassed last year's record full-year result as deliveries outside western Europe more than offset declines in the debt-troubled region. Europe's largest automaker said Friday it sold 8.29 million vehicles from January through November, up 10.4 percent over the same period last year.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week, a sign that the job market may be improving. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest in two months. It is the second-lowest total this year.
It's the scenario that's been spooking employers and investors and slowing the U.S. economy: Congress and the White House fail to strike a budget deal by New Year's Day. Their stalemate triggers sharp tax increases and spending cuts. Those measures shrink consumer spending, stifle job growth, topple stock prices and push the economy off a "fiscal cliff" and into recession.
A survey of U.S. chief executives shows the number of large companies that plan to add jobs or hire more workers is essentially unchanged versus three months ago, although fewer expect hiring to decrease. The Business Roundtable said Wednesday that 29 percent of its member CEOs plan to increase hiring over the next six months, the same as in September when the group released its previous quarterly survey.
Shares of JinkoSolar jumped 21 percent Wednesday after the company received a contract from WBHO-Building Energy Ltd. to supply 81 megawatts of solar modules for a power project in South Africa. JinkoSolar will deliver a total of 344,540 photovoltaic solar panels for the project, which is expected to generate about 146 gigawatt hour of power equivalent.
German sports car maker Porsche AG says it has already broken last year's record sales number with one month left in 2012. The company, which is now owned by Volkswagen, said Wednesday it delivered 128,978 vehicles through November, more than the total of 118,868 it sold in all of 2011 — at the time a new record.
Industrial production in India soared 8.2 percent in October, a sharp spike for Asia's third largest economy but industry viewed the data with some caution. The data from India's Central Statistics Office on Wednesday showed that manufacturing rose 9.6 percent and electricity output increased 5.5 percent from the year before.
U.S. wholesale businesses increased their stockpiles in October but their sales fell sharply, a mixed sign for economic growth. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that stockpiles grew 0.6 percent in October. That's slower than September's 1.1 percent increase, which was the biggest gain in nine months. Sales in October fell 1.2 percent, after rising 1.9 percent in September.
The U.S. trade deficit increased in October because exports fell by a larger margin than imports, a sign that slower global growth could weigh on the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade deficit grew 4.8 percent in October from September to $42.2 billion. Exports dropped 3.6 percent to $180.5 billion. Sales of commercial aircraft, autos and farm products all declined.
After years of battling each other on trade issues, U.S. and European officials are contemplating a dramatic change in direction: joining together in what could be the world's largest free trade pact in an attempt to boost their struggling economies.
German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG says it is taking a €3.6 billion ($4.66 billion) hit on the value of its Steel Americas unit. The Essen-based company says the writedown follows a reassessment prompted by efforts to sell the unit's plants in the United States and Brazil.
The CEO of Italian luxury carmaker Maserati is confident that parent company Fiat's €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) investment to boost production in Italy will bring results despite political instability that once again was endangering the country's financial health.
China's trade weakened sharply in November, adding to challenges for the world's second-largest economy as a gradual recovery takes shape. Export growth plunged to 2.9 percent over a year earlier from the previous month's 11.6 percent, customs data showed Monday. Imports were flat, down from October's 2.4 percent growth.
Honeywell International Inc. on Monday issued weaker-than-expected 2013 earnings guidance, predicting that the overall global economy will continue to grow slowly next year. The Morris Township, N.J.-based technology and manufacturing conglomerate said it expects to post a 2013 profit of $4.75 to $4.95 per share on $39 billion to $39.5 billion in revenue.
October U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled $459.16 million according to AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTO program, was down 31.3 percent from September and down 0.1 percent when compared with the total of $459.41 million reported for October 2011.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House to discuss the "fiscal cliff," while rank-and-file Republicans stepped forward with what they called pragmatic ideas to break the stalemate. They agreed not to release details of their weekend conversation, but aides emphasized that the lines of communication remain open.
It appears that it’s more of the same in U.S. manufacturing. While the overall economy grew for the 42nd consecutive month, economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in November following two months of modest expansion, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.
U.S. hiring gains held steady in November despite disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and employers' concerns about impending tax increases from the year-end "fiscal cliff." Companies added 146,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent — the lowest in nearly four years — from 7.9 percent in October. The rate declined mainly because more people stopped looking for work and weren't counted as unemployed.
U.S. manufacturing shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009, the first month after the Great Recession ended. Worries about automatic tax increases in the New Year cut demand for factory orders and manufacturing jobs. The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing conditions fell to a reading of 49.5. That's down from 51.7 in October.
A better economy and extra demand after Superstorm Sandy lifted U.S. auto sales last month. Americans are willing to buy a new car or truck because they are more confident in the economy than they've been in a while: Home values are rising, hiring is up, and auto financing is readily available.
News that manufacturing activity in China, the world's second largest economy, grew for the first time in 13 months helped push global stocks higher on Monday. HSBC's Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.5 in November from October's 49.5 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate activity is expanding.
Major issues still need to be addressed, but presuming the United States gets its fiscal house in some semblance of order, the U.S. economy could be in a transition from sluggish growth to a longer period of moderate growth, according to a new report from The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.