US economy grew at 2.5 per cent rate in spring
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 per cent annual rate from April through June, an improvement from the first three months of the year. But economists are worried that growth may now be slowing.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that its final look at economic growth in the spring was unchanged from a prior estimate made last month.
However, the components of growth were altered slightly. Businesses added a bit less to their stockpiles and exports did not grow as fast as previously thought. These downward revisions were balanced by slightly stronger spending by state and local governments.
Signs emerge that US job market may be picking up
WASHINGTON (AP) — The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has sunk to its lowest point in six years because few companies are laying anyone off anymore. A survey of service companies found that they added jobs last month at their fastest pace in six months. And more small businesses say they plan to hire than at any point since the recession began.
All of which is prompting some economists to forecast a healthier job gain in September than the economy has produced in recent months.
US pending home sales fall for 3rd straight month
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy U.S. homes in August, the third straight decline. The drop could mean that higher mortgage rates are starting to deter some buyers.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.6 per cent to 107.7 last month. The index has fallen for three straight months after reaching a 6 1/2-year high in May.
The pending home sales index measures signed contracts. Buyers typically complete sales one to two months later.
The housing market has been in recovery for the last year and a half and final home sales reached a six-year high in August, the Realtors’ group said last week. But mortgage rates have risen nearly a full percentage point since May.
Nissan recalls 908,900 vehicles for sensor problem
TOKYO (AP) — Nissan says it is recalling 908,900 vehicles around the world for defective accelerator sensors that could cause the engine to stall.
Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday the recall affects the Serena minivan, Infiniti M luxury model, X-trail sport utility vehicle and other models. No accidents have been reported related to the problem.
Yokohama-based Nissan says most of the vehicles being recalled are in Japan. Others are in North America, Europe and Oceania.
The company says sensors, manufactured in Japan, can malfunction, causing the vehicle to slow down and at times stop.
NYC accountant is arrested in Madoff fraud
NEW YORK (AP) — A senior partner at a New York accounting firm has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he aided financier Bernard Madoff in his epic fraud.
Paul Konigsberg entered the plea Thursday at an arraignment on five charges that he conspired with Madoff and helped him lie to investors.
He is accused of participating in and helping to direct false bookkeeping. Prosecutors say he is the only person outside the Madoff family to have held an ownership interest in Madoff’s private investment business.
Konigsberg’s lawyer tells a magistrate judge that his 77-year-old client was unaware of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Konigsberg has been released on $2 million bail.
Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting his fraud in 2009.
EBay to buy payments company Braintree for $800 million
NEW YORK (AP) — E-commerce giant eBay Inc. reached a deal to buy online and mobile payments technology provider Braintree for $800 million in cash.
The move comes as eBay’s PayPal unit works to evolve from its roots as an online payments provider, expanding its offline, mobile and online offerings to stores, restaurants and other business.
Braintree’s payments technology is used by popular startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb, cab-hailing app Uber and restaurant reservations site OpenTable. The company charges businesses a fee of 2.9 per cent plus 30 cents per each transaction, and expects to process about $12 billion in payments this year.
San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. said Thursday that it will operate Braintree as a separate business. Bill Ready, the CEO of the Chicago-based company, will report to PayPal President David Marcus.
Guinness-fueled ‘holiday’ troubles many in Ireland
DUBLIN (AP) — Guinness has been put on the defensive amid surging protests that Arthur’s Day is compounding an alcoholic culture that costs Ireland 3.7 billion euros ($5 billion) annually in hung-over workers, a Europe-leading rate of liver disease, late-night vandalism and violence in hospital emergency rooms.
Arthur’s Day, honouring the 18th-century founder of Ireland’s quintessential drink, was launched by Guinness in 2009. Thursday’s celebrations feature surprise musical performances in 815 pubs and clubs across Ireland as well as concerts worldwide from Malaysia to Jamaica, as well as a free pint at some pubs.
Guinness says the annual festivities provide a needed tonic for a 7,500-strong Irish pub network struggling to maintain profits in the face of a five-year debt crisis that has ravaged employment and incomes. But some critics say it is an “alco-holiday” that causes disorder and worsens the nation’s drinking issues.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.04 points to close at 15,328.30. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.9 points to close at 1,698.67. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26.33 points to end at 3,787.43.
Benchmark oil for November delivery gained 37 cents Thursday to close at $103.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.71 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $3.00 per gallon.
Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, rose 89 cents to $109.21 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.