U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month as factories cut back sharply on production, and new orders plunged. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in the previous month.
Americans increased their spending at a solid pace for the second straight month in December even though their income was flat. Consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in December, compared with November when spending had increased an even stronger 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
Honda Motor Co. reported on Friday a 160.7 billion yen ($1.58 billion) net profit for the October-December fiscal third quarter, up from 77.4 billion yen the year before.
The U.S. economy is showing more strength than at any time since the Great Recession began six years ago. Employers are hiring. Home prices, sales, and construction have surged. Corporate profits and stocks have hit records. And consumers have picked up their spending.
Unemployment rates fell in four-fifths of US states in December and rose in just two, though most of the improvement stemmed from unemployed Americans giving up on their job searches.
The reduction in orders was led by very large percentage declines in defense capital goods, civilian aircraft, computers and electronic products, and motor vehicle orders. Government austerity led to lower military equipment spending last month (which was not new), and defense capital goods orders fell 20 percent in 2013 as a whole.
Industrial equipment maker Siemens AG said quarterly net profit rose 20 percent as the company moved past one-time charges for delays delivering high-speed trains. Net profit rose to 1.46 billion euros ($2 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2013, the company's fiscal first. That was up from 1.21 billion euros a year ago.
Ford Motor Co. enjoyed one of the best years in its history in 2013, but the celebration won't last long. Ford has already warned that profits will be down this year as it launches a record 23 vehicles and builds seven plants around the world.
Businesses cut back sharply on their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in December with a key category that signals business investment plans falling by the biggest amount in five months. The weakness was led by a big 17.5 percent drop in the volatile category of commercial aircraft.
In a turnabout, there are now slightly more union members working for private firms than in government, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That reverses a five-year trend. Although the rate of membership among all workers didn't budge, the overall number of union members grew slightly, rising about 162,000 to nearly 14.5 million.
Toyota remained the top-selling automaker for the second year in a row, beating U.S. rival General Motors by some 270,000 vehicles in 2013, and set an ambitious target to sell more than 10 million vehicles this year. That would mark a milestone as no automaker has ever topped annual worldwide sales of 10 million.
With the worst of the global financial crisis behind them, CEOs are ready to move on from the fight for survival their businesses have been in for the past few years, a survey found Tuesday.
SABMiller PLC, one of the world's biggest brewers, says demand in emerging markets fueled sales in the third quarter, which ended Dec. 31. Chief Executive Alan Clark says in a statement Tuesday that growth in Africa, Latin America and China helped overall revenue grow 4 percent despite weaknesses in the North American and European markets.
The December 2013 composite index improved to 67 from 66 in the September survey—the fourth straight quarterly advance and the highest level since the September 2011 reading of 67. For 17 quarters, the index has remained above the threshold of 50, the dividing line separating contraction and expansion.
U.S. factory output rose for a fifth straight month in December, as manufacturers cranked out more cars and trucks, appliances, and processed food. The gains suggest factories gave economic growth a strong boost at the end of the year. The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory production rose 0.4 percent in December.
Every January, companies make predictions about the year ahead and what trends they should expect. Bobby Bono, the U.S. industrial manufacturing leader at PwC, has assembled a list of trends he is predicting for the manufacturing sector moving forward.
The European car market has endured its longest slump ever with a sixth straight year of contraction in 2013, but an unexpected surge in December sales may signal recovery, according to industry data released Thursday.
Under the new Hyundai CEO Dave Zuchowski's predecessor, John Krafcik, Hyundai posted huge sales gains and captured 5.1 percent of the U.S. market in 2011. Then the company's factories couldn't keep up with demand and sales slowed.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker joined others in forecasting slower growth in the red-hot U.S. market. Still, GM and industry analysts expect sales to reach or exceed 16 million for the first time since 2007. GM said it plans to use profits from the U.S. and China — now its largest market — to boost weaker parts of its business.
The U.S. is accusing China of failing to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling against China's imposition of duties on high-tech American steel. Washington says the duties caused a $250 million annual drop in exports. The ruling concerns grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel that is used primarily by the power generating industry.
How did the unemployment rate drop so much given the weak job growth? Because the government conducts one survey to learn how many jobs were created and another to determine the unemployment rate. The two surveys can sometimes produce differing results.
China's export growth slowed in December while imports accelerated, possibly helping to temper fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Exports rose 4.3 percent to $207.7 billion, slowing from November's 12.7 percent expansion, trade data showed Friday.
German luxury car makers Mercedes-Benz and Audi enjoyed record sales last year, boosted by rising demand in the United States and China. Mercedes-Benz, which is based in Stuttgart and owned by Daimler AG, said Friday that it sold 1.462 million cars last year worldwide, an increase of 10.7 percent.
Japan Ford President Toshio Morita, unveiling the 2.29 million yen ($22,900) model Thursday, declined comment on trade barrier and currency manipulation allegations being voiced by Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, and other U.S. automakers.
Airlines are on the largest jet-buying spree in the history of aviation, ordering more than 8,200 new planes with manufacturers Airbus SAS and The Boeing Co. in the past five years. There are now a combined 24 planes rolling off assembly lines each week, up from 11 a decade ago. And that rate is expected to keep climbing.