The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in December because exports rose while oil imports plummeted. The smaller trade gap means the economy almost surely grew in the October-December quarter — an improvement from the government's estimate last week that it shrank in the final months of 2012.
With its annual meeting looming and its stock on the decline, Apple is facing a rebellion from an influential investor who wants the company to stop stockpiling cash and give it to shareholders instead. Greenlight Capital said Thursday that it is suing Apple in a New York federal court over the company's proposal to make it more difficult for it to issue preferred stock.
A one-off gain from the sale of an investment helped boost German automaker Daimler AG's net profit in the fourth quarter of 2012, offsetting the impact of higher costs. The company, based in Stuttgart, said Thursday that net profit was €2.3 billion ($3.1 billion), up from €1.79 billion in the same quarter last year, thanks to the sale of a 7.5 percent stake in European defense company EADS.
On March 1, across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequester, will hit the federal budget. The sequester is designed to get the deficit under control, economists argue that the cuts are too deep. Scott Pelley speaks with President Obama on whether the sequester could trigger a recession.
Ally Financial Inc. said Tuesday it posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.45 billion, reversing a year-ago loss, helped by a tax benefit and growth in auto financing. Ally, the former finance arm of automaker General Motors, now operates as an auto finance company and bank.
Cummins net income slid 31 percent in the fourth quarter as the recession in Europe and slowing growth elsewhere cut into demand for its engines, but it did better than most had expected and shares rose in premarket trading Wednesday. After a strong start to the year, demand began to soften and the company cut expenses to offset weak revenue, which slide 13 percent in the final three months of the year.
Swedish truck maker AB Volvo saw profits tumble in the fourth quarter as sales slumped 17 percent on weakening demand in key markets, the company said Wednesday. The net profit in the final three months of 2012 was 793 million kronor ($125 million), down from 4.72 billion kronor in the same period a year earlier. Sales fell to 71.8 billion kronor from 86.5 billion kronor in the fourth quarter of 2011.
German industrial orders increased in December, suggesting business is beginning to pick up in Europe's largest economy. The Economy Ministry said Wednesday orders were up 0.8 percent over November, according to seasonally adjusted figures. That comes after a 1.8 percent decline in November.
Charges related to its ailing European business and a drop in the value of its assets saw ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steel maker, post a near $4 billion loss for the fourth quarter. The company, based in Luxembourg, said Wednesday its net loss widened to $3.99 billion (€2.94 billion) from $1 billion in the same period a year ago. Sales fell 14 percent to $19.3 billion, as both prices and volumes declined year on year.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world's largest maker of wind turbines, posted a 23 percent rise in revenue in the fourth quarter but saw its losses deepen for the full year amid tight competition and a market slowdown. The Danish company said its revenue in the last three months of 2012 reached €2.5 billion ($3.4 billion), driven by an increase in deliveries. It didn't provide a quarterly profit or loss figure.
U.S. manufacturing is off to a good start in 2013. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector continued to expand in January 2013 for the second consecutive month, and the overall U.S. economy grew for the 44th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.
Oil and gas giant BP's profit fell nearly 80 percent in the fourth quarter in results released Tuesday, dragged down by payouts related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP said that net profit fell to $1.62 billion in the three months ending Dec. 31, down from $7.69 billion in the same period the year before. BP took a loss of $3.85 billion for its settlement of all federal criminal charges with the U.S. government.
Delphi Automotive saw its fourth-quarter net income cut in half as the auto parts retailer booked restructuring and acquisition costs. The company, formerly part of General Motors, made $136 million, or 43 cents per share, from October through December, compared with $290 million, or 88 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 3.3 percent to $3.8 billion.
Slumping personal computer maker Dell is bowing out of the stock market in a $24.4 billion buyout that represents the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up the financing for such risky maneuvers. The complex agreement announced Tuesday will allow Dell Inc.'s management, including founder Michael Dell, to attempt a company turnaround away from the glare and financial pressures of Wall Street.
Toyota Motor Corp. raised its fiscal year profit forecast Tuesday to triple what it eked out for the disaster-struck previous year, as the world's top automaker continued on a comeback roll as sales surged, especially in the U.S. Toyota's October-December profit jumped 23 percent to 99.91 billion yen ($1.09 billion), compared to the same period the previous year. Quarterly sales edged up 9 percent to 5.3 trillion yen ($58 billion).
U.S. factory orders increased in December even though companies trimmed their orders for goods that signal investment plans. Factory orders rose 1.8 percent in December compared to November, when orders had fallen 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said Monday.
United Technologies may buy back up to 60 million of its shares, replacing an approximately $4.3 billion stock buyback program which began almost three years ago and is nearly spent. The industrial conglomerate said Monday that the new program's value is $5.4 billion at today's stock prices. It expects its repurchases to total about $1 billion this year, unchanged from a previous estimate.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said Monday its group net profit in the April to December period dropped 40.1 percent from a year earlier to 49.14 billion yen due in part to expenses for refunds it paid for overcharging the Defense Ministry and others on defense-related contracts. Mitsubishi Electric, one of Japan's leading defense contractors, said it booked refunds of 75.7 billion yen in nonoperating expenses.
U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a faster pace in January, driven by an increase in new orders and more hiring at factories. The Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its index of manufacturing activity jumped to 53.1 in January from 50.2 in December. It was the highest reading since April, when the index hit 54.1. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Most of the big car companies are reporting double-digit gains for January as last year's momentum in U.S. auto sales continues into 2013. Sales at Toyota rose 27 percent and they jumped 22 percent at Ford. GM and Chrysler each reported 16 percent gains compared with a year earlier. It was Chrysler's best January in five years. But Volkswagen, which reported a 31 percent increase in 2012, saw sales slow a bit, growing only 7 percent.
Japan's industrial production picked up pace in December from the month before, in a sign the world's third-largest economy may be stabilizing thanks to stronger global demand and government spending. Increased output of large passenger cars and vehicle components and machinery for making semiconductors were the main factors helping to drive the improvement in manufacturing, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
Harman International Industries Inc. said Thursday it plans to cut about 1,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of its work force, to reduce operating expenses. The announcement came in the heels of fiscal second-quarter results that fell below Wall Street's expectations amid a slowdown in the automotive sector and economic challenges, especially in Europe.
Mention it quietly, but there were rare hopeful signs for Europe's struggling economy on Friday. Three pieces of economic news for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro were all slightly better than hoped — in sharp contrast to some of the grim days the eurozone has witnessed over the last three years of its crisis over too much debt.
Chrysler's U.S. sales jumped 16 percent last month as the company reported its best January in five years. The automaker said Friday that it sold nearly 118,000 cars and trucks last month, a sign that last year's momentum in U.S. auto sales is continuing into 2013. Industry analysts are predicting that Americans bought new vehicles at a strong pace last month, a bright spot in the economic recovery.
China's manufacturing activity expanded in January in a new sign of recovery for the world's second-largest economy but growth was weak, two surveys showed Friday. The government-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index stood at 50.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.