AP News

Business Highlights


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Economy recovery likely — benefiting election winner

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eventually the economic recovery will pick up steam — whether President Barack Obama stays in the White House or Mitt Romney moves in.

That's what many economic outlooks project. And the president — and the party occupying the Oval Office — will reap some of the benefits.

But first, Obama or Romney, together with Congress, will have to pull back from the widely deplored "fiscal cliff," the politically created budget abyss facing the nation at year's end.

The betting on that ranges from mild optimism to nail-biting anxiety. But most economic analysts agree that if Washington resolves that looming crisis, Americans can expect faster economic growth and lower unemployment.

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Bernanke makes strong defense of Fed rate policies

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chairman Ben Bernanke offered a wide-ranging defense Monday of the Federal Reserve's bold policies to stimulate the still-weak economy.

The Fed needs to drive down long-term borrowing rates because the economy isn't growing fast enough to reduce high unemployment, Bernanke said in a speech to the Economic Club of Indiana. The national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

Low rates could also help shrink the federal budget deficit by easing the government's borrowing costs and generating tax revenue from stronger growth, Bernanke argued.

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Huge tax increase looms at year-end 'fiscal cliff'

WASHINGTON (AP) — A typical middle-income family making $40,000 to $64,000 a year could see its taxes go up by $2,000 next year if lawmakers fail to renew a lengthy roster of tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, according to a new report Monday

Taxpayers across the income spectrum would be hit with large tax hikes, the Tax Policy Center said in its study, with households in the top 1 percent income range seeing an average tax increase of more than $120,000, while a family making between $110,000 and $140,000 could see a tax hike in the $6,000 range.

All told the government would reap more than $500 billion in new revenue if a full menu of tax cuts were allowed to expire. The expiring provisions include Bush-era cuts on wage and investment income and cuts for married couples and families with children, among others. Also expiring is a 2 percentage point temporary payroll tax cut championed by President Barack Obama.

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US manufacturing grows for 1st time in 4 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew for the first time in four months, buoyed by a jump in new orders and more jobs. The increase is a hopeful sign that the economy may be improving after a weak stretch.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its index of factory activity rose to 51.5. That's up from 49.6 in August.

A reading above 50 signals growth, lower than that indicates contraction. The index had been below 50 from June through August.

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US builders boost housing spending, cut elsewhere

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders spent more to construct homes in August, further evidence of a housing rebound. Still, the increase couldn't offset cuts in public projects and commercial real estate.

Overall construction spending dipped 0.7 percent in August from July, the Commerce Department reported Monday. It was the second straight monthly decline.

The decline lowered construction spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $834.4 billion. That's nearly 12 percent above a 12-year low hit in February 2011 and roughly half of what's considered healthy.

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Red Lobster — for the non-seafood lover in you

NEW YORK (AP) — Red Lobster isn't just for the seafood lover in you. It's also for that eater in every group who just wants a chicken dish.

The chain that brought seafood to the masses is hoping to broaden its appeal by revamping its menu on Oct. 15 to boost the number of dishes that cater to diners who don't want seafood, including lighter options such as salads. Red Lobster also is increasing the number of dishes that cost less than $15 to attract customers who have cut back on spending.

The chain, owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., says a quarter of the items on its menu will be non-seafood dishes, up from 8 percent. And the number of lower-cost entrees will rise to about 60 percent from 40 percent.

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Former Johnson & Johnson CEO Burke dies at 87

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke, who steered the health care giant through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s that resulted in the first tamper-resistant product packaging, has died.

The company said Burke died Friday at the age of 87, after a long, unspecified illness.

Burke, who ran the New Brunswick, N.J., company for 13 of his 37 years there, also had a big impact in his second career, as chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America for 16 years.

He persuaded TV stations, newspapers and other media outlets to run free ads, produced for free by advertising agencies, warning of the dangers of illicit drugs. In one of the most memorable ads, an announcer intoned, "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs," as an egg was cracked and then sizzled in a hot frying pan.

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Airlines' profit outlook recovering

BERLIN (AP) — The outlook for the airline industry is improving, with profits expected to reach $4.1 billion this year and $7.5 billion in 2013, the International Air Transport Association said Monday.

The industry group raised its forecast for 2012 from $3 billion, saying passenger numbers so far this year were robust.

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Bacon shortage 'baloney,' but prices to rise

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bacon lovers can relax. They'll find all they want on supermarket shelves in the coming months, though their pocketbooks may take a hit.

The economics of the current drought are likely to nose up prices for bacon and other pork products next year, by as much as 10 percent. But U.S. agricultural economists are dismissing reports of a global bacon shortage that lent sizzle to headlines and Twitter feeds last week. Simply put, the talk of scarcity is hogwash.

Fears about a scarcity of bacon swept across social and mainstream media in recent weeks after Britain's National Pig Association said a bacon shortage was "unavoidable," citing a sharp decline in the continent's pig herd and drought-inflated feed costs. The report caused much consternation over a product that used to be merely a breakfast staple, but nowadays flavors everything from brownies to vodka.

The alarm was quickly dismissed by the American Farm Bureau Federation as "baloney."

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Yahoo CEO adds motherhood to list of challenges

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gave birth to a boy late Sunday, shining a spotlight on her ability to steer the struggling Internet company in a new direction while adjusting to the challenges of being a first-time mother.

The birth came a week ahead of the Oct. 7 due date that Mayer shared with the public in July. She announced her pregnancy on her social networking accounts just a few hours after Yahoo hired her as its third full-time CEO in less than a year.

The pregnancy news amplified the buzz about Mayer's defection from Google Inc., where she spent 13 years as a key executive overseeing some of the services that helped to drag down Yahoo.

Yahoo's decision to anoint a soon-to-be mom as its CEO was hailed as a breakthrough for women seeking to prove that men aren't the only ones who can balance a high-powered executive lifestyle and early parenthood.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.98 points to close at 13,515.11. The Nasdaq composite fell 2.70 points to close at 3,113.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 closed 0.3 percent higher, rising 3.82 points to close at 1,444.49.

Benchmark crude closed up 29 cents at $92.48 in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 20 cents to $112.19 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The price of natural gas hit another year high, closing up 16 cents at $3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $3.14 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $2.92 per gallon.


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