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.
The U.S. economy grew at a 2.7 percent annual rate from July through September, much faster than first thought. The strength is expected to fade in the final months of the year because of the impact of Superstorm Sandy and uncertainty about looming tax increases and government spending cuts.
Apple Inc. on Friday said its latest iPad models will go on sale in China on Dec. 7, followed by the iPhone 5 a week later. China is one of Apple's largest and fastest-growing markets. Analyst Brian White at Topeka Capital Markets said iPhone 5 is launching roughly when he expected it, but he hadn't expected the iPad mini and the fourth-generation, full-size iPad to go on sale in China this year.
U.S. companies in October increased their orders of machinery and equipment that signal investment plans by the largest amount in five months, a hopeful sign for future economic growth. Orders for core capital goods, considered a proxy for business investment, rose 1.7 percent in October, the best showing since a 2.3 percent rise in May, the Commerce Department said.
Japan logged its fourth straight monthly trade deficit in October as the European debt crisis and strained business ties with China over a territorial dispute reduced exports. The Ministry of Finance said Wednesday that imports exceeded exports by 549 billion yen ($6.7 billion), the biggest deficit for October since at least 1979, when the ministry began keeping comparable records.
Deere & Co., the world's largest maker of agricultural equipment, reported a bigger fourth-quarter profit as it sold more equipment at higher prices, but results still missed analyst expectations. Deere's revenue got a boost from a 4 percent increase in prices, although some of that gain was offset by unfavorable foreign currency exchange that hurt sales by 3 percent.
Hewlett-Packard Co. said that a British company it bought for $9.7 billion last year lied about its finances, resulting in a massive write-down of the value of the business. CEO Meg Whitman avoided calling it a fraud, but said Tuesday that there were "serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations at Autonomy Corporation PLC."
Two years after a wounded General Motors returned to the stock market, the symbol of American industrial might is thriving again. Sunday marks the anniversary of GM's initial public stock offering in November 2010. The company has made money for 11 straight quarters, piling up more than $16 billion in profits. Its cars and trucks are selling for good prices. And sales are strong in China.
Any entry into emerging markets is fraught with uncertainties. There are no guaranteed winners. Take Carrefour for example. After an unsuccessful attempt to enter Brazil and its focus on the hypermarket model even as consumers buy more goods locally and online, its share prices have fallen since 2009. On the other hand, Yum! Brands, the operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, seems to have beaten McDonald’s in conquering China.
“In the 17 years that this data has been collected, there is only one other month that broke $600 million. Both of those were in months that reflected sales from IMTS, showing its strength as the largest manufacturing event in the Americas,” said Douglas K. Woods, AMT President.
Manufacturing shrank in the Philadelphia and New York regions this month, reflecting damage from Superstorm Sandy that disrupted area factories. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its index of regional manufacturing activity declined to -10.7, a five-month low.
Ford said that a switch to smaller cars and an increase in incentives will narrow the profit margins in its core North American business. Mark Fields, who becomes chief operating officer on Dec. 1, said higher inventories will force some automakers to raise incentives, and that is likely to cut into what has been stable pricing for Ford.
The fate of a tax credit that advocates say is needed to maintain tens of thousands of wind energy jobs will be decided during high-stakes, last-minute negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans over fiscal issues, officials said Tuesday.
Everyone who pays income tax — and some who don't —will feel it. The package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" takes effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. The economy would be hit so hard that it would likely sink into recession in the first half of 2013, economists say.
Shares of AK Steel Holding Corp. fell Tuesday after the company forecast a larger-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter on lower steel prices and a large income tax charge. AK Steel expects to lose between 67 and 72 cents per share in the quarter. The company said it will ship more steel than it did in the third quarter, but prices will fall by about 5 percent.
The resilience of the U.S. manufacturing sector and the slow, but stable overall economic growth, may have been attractive for strategic, long-term investors. Moreover, the value of North American targets far exceeded the value of targets from any other region, an indication of both the size and maturity of targets from this region and the fairly attractive nature of the North American manufacturing market.
Trina Solar Ltd. lowered its third-quarter guidance on Monday, citing industry-wide oversupply and lower prices. The Chinese solar panel maker estimates shipments in the third quarter between 375 and 385 megawatts, down from previous guidance of 450 to 480 megawatts. The company said margins were squeezed by anti-dumping duties in the U.S. and an inventory write-down.
India's industrial production contracted 0.4 percent in September, government data showed Monday, far worse than expected as manufacturing output continued to slump amid signs of weakness in investment and consumer demand. The results indicate that Asia's third largest economy still has a way to go to pull itself out of its current slowdown.
The possibility of tariffs on China-made solar panels was causing some big swings in the stock prices of both U.S. and Chinese solar companies on Thursday. The U.S. International Trade Commission found that Chinese companies have materially injured U.S. manufacturers, upholding tariffs that can run as high as nearly 250 percent.