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Associated Press

Posted on September 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 16 at 4:02 PM

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Stocks rally after Summers exits Fed race

Wall Street was happy to see Larry Summers go.

Stocks rose on Monday after Summers, who had been the leading candidate to replace Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, withdrew his name from consideration.

Summers, a former Treasury secretary, was viewed as being more likely to rein in the government's massive stimulus program, which has kept interest rates low and boosted corporate profits.

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Employment gap between rich, poor widest on record

WASHINGTON (AP) — The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press.

Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families — those earning less than $20,000 — have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression.

U.S. households with income of more than $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, a level traditionally defined as full employment. At the same time, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage jobs. Many of them in turn are displacing lower-skilled, low-income workers, who become unemployed or are forced to work fewer hours, the analysis shows.

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GM working on 200-mile electric car, executive says

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — As automakers race to make cheaper electric cars with greater battery range, General Motors is working on one that can go 200 miles per charge at a cost of about $30,000, a top company executive said.

Vice President of Global Product Development Doug Parks wouldn't say when or if such a car will be built, however.

Currently GM sells the $35,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which can go 38 miles on electricity before a gas-powered generator kicks in. It also offers the all-electric Chevy Spark subcompact that can go 82 miles on a charge. It starts at $26,685. Electric cars are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The 200-mile car would cost about the same as the current Volt, and it would match the range and be far cheaper than Tesla Motors' $71,000, all-electric Model S. The Model S can go up to 265 miles on a single charge.

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Turkey Talk Line to have 1st male spokesman

NEW YORK (AP) — This year if you call Butterball's Turkey Talk Line for some cooking advice, you might get a male voice on the line.

For the first time, Butterball is enlisting the help of men as well as women for its Turkey Talk Line during the holidays. And the turkey seller is seeking the first male talk-line spokesman this year as well.

The talk line, which is 32 years old this year, has long offered advice to anyone overwhelmed by making the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the year-end holiday season.

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US factory output up 0.7 percent led by strong autos

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories increased output in August by the most in eight months, helped by a robust month at auto plants. The gains are a hopeful sign that manufacturing could help boost economic growth in the second half of the year.

Manufacturing production rose 0.7 percent last month from July, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That's the biggest increase since December. It followed a 0.4 percent decline in July.

Automakers increased production 5.2 percent, after a 4.5 percent decline in July. And factories stepped up production of other goods, including computers and electronics, furniture and business equipment.

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Study: Methane leaks from gas drilling not huge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drilling and fracking for natural gas don't seem to spew immense amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the air, as has been feared, a new study says.

The findings bolster a big selling point for natural gas, that it's not as bad for global warming as coal. And they undercut a major environmental argument against fracking, a process that breaks apart deep rock to recover more gas. The study, mostly funded by energy interests, doesn't address other fracking concerns about potential air and water pollution.

The results, which generally agree with earlier Environmental Protection Agency estimates, were published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Combined net worth of America's richest rises

NEW YORK (AP) — Life is good for America's super wealthy.

Forbes on Monday released its annual list of the top 400 richest Americans. While most of the top names and rankings didn't change from a year ago, the majority of the elite club's members saw their fortunes grow over the past year, helped by strong stock and real estate markets.

The list's minimum net income increased to a pre-financial crisis level of $1.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2012, with 61 American billionaires not making the cut.

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates remains America's richest man, taking the top spot on the list for the 20th straight year, with a net worth of $72 billion, up from $66 billion a year ago.

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Wealthy business executives eye political races

CHICAGO (AP) — He has never been elected to anything, not even "student council in high school," as he boasts. He has little patience for schmoozing. In dealing with people, he admits to being "pretty blunt" - more suited to running a large private equity firm, which Bruce Rauner did successfully for 30 years, than seeking votes for governor, which he intends to do in Illinois next year.

But the traits that might once have made Rauner a bust in politics are beginning to look like possible assets for a Republican in Illinois and for underdogs elsewhere across the increasingly polarized American political landscape. With three quarters of the states now dominated by one party or the other — the highest ratio in recent history — candidates from the other side often seem to have little chance on election day. In this environment, a handful of outsiders are gambling that the time is ripe for challengers who can break out of normal party mold.

Instead of political skills or experience, they have chutzpah - and a lot of money. Rauner, a tall, big-voiced executive who's worth close to $1 billion, is the star of a class of wealthy Republicans who take inspiration from Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who left the business world in 2010 to beat established Democrats in Democratic strongholds.

Tom Foley, a former venture capitalist, is expected to run as a Republican for governor of Connecticut. After losing by less than a percentage point in 2010, he hopes to take advantage of Democrat Dan Malloy's low approval ratings this time. Scott Honour, who made his fortune in private equity and investment banking, plans to challenge Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in solidly Democratic Minnesota. And Charlie Baker, former chief executive of a hospital group, is running for governor in Massachusetts.

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Debt inspectors review Portugal's reforms progress

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal wants its bailout creditors to soften the country's 2014 deficit target, a senior official said Monday, as foreign inspectors began their latest review of whether the country is complying with the debt-cutting demands of its rescue program.

Portugal promised to reduce its debt and overhaul its economy in return for the 78 billion-euro ($104 billion) bailout in 2011, when countries sharing the euro currency, including Portugal, became mired in a financial crisis.

But the coalition government has, like bailed-out Greece, struggled to meet the financial targets stipulated in the agreement amid a deep recession. Consequently, the bailout providers — the country's fellow euro members, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — have in the past two years eased the deficit target, though they have expressed reluctance at doing so again.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 118.72 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 15,494.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.61 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,697.60. The Nasdaq composite fell 4.34 points, a fraction of a percent, to 3,717.85.

The benchmark oil contract for October delivery fell $1.62 to $106.59 a barrel in New York. The contract for November delivery for Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.63 to $110.07 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 5.3 cents to $2.717 per gallon. Natural gas rose 6.1 cents to $3.738 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 5 cents to $3.064 per gallon.

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