World stock markets rose Wednesday after the fourth-quarter earnings season got off to a positive start in the U.S. with aluminum giant Alcoa forecasting higher demand for 2013. Because Alcoa makes aluminum for so many key industries, investors study its results for clues about the health and direction of the overall economy.
Record unemployment and fraying social welfare systems in southern Europe risk creating a new divide in the continent, the EU warned Tuesday, when figures showed joblessness across the 17 EU countries that use the euro hit a new high. Eurozone unemployment rose to 11.8 percent in November, the highest since the euro currency was founded in 1999, according to the statistical agency Eurostat.
Hawaiian Airlines said Monday it plans to buy more than a dozen new Airbus planes to help it meet demand for travel between the West Coast and the islands. The planes — to be delivered four to seven years from now — will allow Hawaiian to open new markets and boost service to cities it already flies to, the airline said. The Honolulu-based airline plans to add 1,000 jobs as part of the expansion.
Schnitzer Steel posted a $2 million loss for the first quarter Tuesday, dragged down by restructuring charges and weak demand. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, the company's loss amounted to 6 cents per share, compared with a profit of $7 million, or 25 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
Small business owners were slightly more optimistic at the end of 2012 even as they awaited the outcome of negotiations in Congress over the "fiscal cliff." That's the finding of a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying group. The NFIB's small-business-optimism index rose half a point from its level in November to 88. The index remains near its lowest readings on record.
Boeing's share price decline after a fire on one of its new 787s may be overdone, Jefferies analyst Howard A. Rubel wrote on Tuesday. Rubel wrote that the decline of over $1 billion in market value "would seem to overstate the worry." He noted that there has been no other similar incident to this one, and the other 787s continue to operate normally.
You finally pushed those price increases through — to reflect the fact that your input costs have been going up — and the market takes another turn. Input costs are now speeding in the opposite direction and your customers are expecting — or rather, demanding — price decreases.
Japan's three biggest automakers — Toyota, Nissan and Honda — say their vehicle sales in China fell last year amid a territorial dispute that prompted Chinese consumers to boycott Japanese products. Toyota Motor Corp. said its sales in China fell 4.9 percent in 2012 to 840,500 vehicles, the first annual decline since at least 2001.
The overall economy continued to grow for the 43rd consecutive month while economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded, moving the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) back over the 50 percent mark in December, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.
U.S. companies boosted their orders in November for manufactured goods that reflect investment plans even though total orders were unchanged for the month. Factory orders were flat in November, compared with October when orders had risen 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday.
Shares of some steel producers gained for a second day on Thursday as analysts saw better times ahead for the battered industry and investors responded to encouraging economic news. Steelmaker Worthington Industries posted fiscal second quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates, although revenue was below expectations. Its shares rose 15 cents to $27 in afternoon trading. Earlier they hit $27.24, a new high.
U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during the tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff. The solid job growth wasn't enough to push down the unemployment rate, which remained 7.8 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent.
It's not quite boom times for the U.S. auto industry. But it's getting there. Sales of new cars and trucks are likely to reach 14.5 million for 2012. And if they climb much beyond that, they'll be closing in on a high set in 2005. Cheap loans, a host of new cars, and greater confidence in the economy are drawing buyers into showrooms.
Strong U.S. sales in December capped a remarkable year for the auto industry — especially Japanese brands — and 2013 should be even better. Sales of new cars and trucks are expected to total around 14.5 million after all carmakers announce figures on Thursday. That is 13 percent better than 2011 and the best performance in five years.
Housing is rebounding. Families are shrinking debts. Europe has avoided a financial crackup. And the fiscal cliff deal has removed the most urgent threat to the U.S. economy. So why don't economists foresee stronger growth and hiring in 2013?
U.S. manufacturing grew slightly last month and factory hiring increased. The modest gain suggests the economy entered the new year with some momentum. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose in December to 50.7. That's up from a reading of 49.5 in the November, which was the lowest reading since July 2009, one month after the recession ended.
A healthier economy and more new model introductions should push U.S. auto sales above the 15 million mark this year, predicts an auto industry research firm. The Polk research firm says auto sales should continue to lead the country's economic recovery, rising nearly 7 percent over 2012 to 15.3 million new vehicle registrations.
Fiat says 2012 was the worst year for car sales in Italy since 1979, but that the manufacturer nevertheless managed to slightly increase its share of the national market. Fiat SpA said in a statement Wednesday that Fiat Group's share of the 2012 market increased slightly to 29.6 percent from 29.4 percent in 2011.
The bill Congress approved Tuesday night providing tax relief for most taxpayers also helps wind energy and ethanol producers by extending tax credits designed to encourage continued development. States like Texas, the nation's leading wind energy producer, and Iowa, the leading ethanol maker, should benefit from the incentives.
Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.
Boeing Co. said on Wednesday that it has finalized an order for 60 of its planned 737 Max planes, pushing its total for the Max to more than 1,000. The deal, which Boeing said was finalized with leasing company Aviation Capital Group in late December, would be worth $6 billion at list prices. Steep discounts are common on large orders, however.
China's manufacturing grew at its strongest rate in 18 months in December but new exports fell from the previous month due to weak global demand, a survey showed Monday. HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 51.1 percent on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show expansion. That was up from November's 50.5 and the strongest growth since May 2011.
Weak overall economic growth persisted in the third quarter of 2012, increasing by 2.7 percent, and the sluggish pace characteristic of the current expansion is likely to continue, according to the quarterly Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation U.S. Industrial Outlook (EO-115), a report that analyzes 27 major industries.
Boise-based memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc. has reported a $275 million loss in the company's first quarter — the sixth straight period of financial losses for the company. Company executives on Thursday attributed the loss during the first quarter of fiscal 2013 to declining sales volumes and prices.
Japan's top three automakers saw double-digit falls in their auto production in China on the year in November, hit by flagging sales there amid strained relations between the two countries, their data showed Friday. Toyota Motor Corp.'s production in the country dropped 38.7 percent from a year earlier to 50,528 units, but the decline narrowed compared with last month's 61.1 percent fall.