Business Highlights

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US economy grows at 3.6 per cent rate in 3rd quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 per cent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012. But nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter and hold back growth.

The Commerce Department’s second estimate of third-quarter growth released Thursday was sharply higher than the initial 2.8 per cent rate reported last month. And it was well above the 2.5 per cent growth rate for the April-June quarter.

Almost the entire third-quarter revision was due to a big jump in stockpiles. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the economy, was the weakest in nearly four years.

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US jobless claims plunge to 298,000 as layoffs slow

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits tumbled 23,000 last week to 298,000, nearly a six-year low that shows companies are laying off fewer workers.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average declined 10,750 to 322,250.

Last week’s unemployment benefit applications nearly matched a September figure that was distorted by late reporting from California. When excluding the September report, last week’s figures were the lowest since May 2007.

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BP pushes technical limits to tap extreme fields

HOUSTON (AP) — BP’s strategy after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy: Go deeper.

BP is leading an industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions.

One BP field in the Gulf of Mexico, called Tiber, makes the Macondo field that the Deepwater Horizon rig was probing look like puddle of oil. It is thought to hold 20 times the amount of oil as Macondo and about twice as deep.

There’s an extraordinary amount of oil in similar discoveries around the world, several of which are controlled by BP. But BP first must figure out how to get it. New equipment, including blowout preventers far stronger than the one that failed on the Deepwater Horizon, must be developed. Then BP must convince regulators it can tap this oil safely.

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States grovel before Boeing in bid for 777X jobs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — With Boeing the king of U.S. aircraft manufacturing, more than a dozen states are groveling before the throne for a share of the riches to be made from the next-generation 777 jetliner.

From coast to coast, states are rushing to impress Boeing with lavish incentive packages that offer property, labour deals and billions of dollars in tax breaks. All this in the hopes that the aerospace giant will select them to assemble the new 777X — or at least give them a wing to construct.

The competition underscores Boeing’s commanding bargaining position in an economy where top-notch manufacturing jobs remain scarce and elected officials feel obligated to pursue every growth opportunity, no matter how improbable.

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Fast-food protests return amid push for wage hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Fast-food workers and labour organizers marched, waved signs and chanted in cities across the country on Thursday in a push for higher wages.

Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But by late afternoon, it was unclear what the actual turnout was or how many of the participants were workers. At targeted restaurants, the disruptions seemed minimal or temporary.

The protests are part of an effort that began about a year ago and is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to bankroll local worker groups and organize publicity for the demonstrations. Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point than a near-term possibility.

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At 50, new-look Mustang still has plenty of muscle

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — The Ford Mustang is still galloping at 50.

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday introduced the 2015 Mustang, a confident and aggressive riff on the iconic pony car that first made Americans swoon in the 1960s.

The Mustang’s passionate fans are sure to love it, but Ford will have to wait and see if it’s enough to overtake rivals and win over international buyers.

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AT&T reduces fees for people who bring own devices

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T is joining T-Mobile in reducing monthly fees for people who pay for their own devices.

It’s the latest break from a longstanding practice of offering subsidies on devices to lock customers into two-year service agreements. Many customers have been forgoing those subsidies anyway as they opt for plans that allow frequent phone upgrades. But until now, AT&T’s and Verizon’s service fees have still factored in the costs of those subsidies, whether the customer uses them or not.

Beginning Sunday, customers will be able to switch to the cheaper plans if they buy or bring their own phone. That includes paying for the device in installments through the frequent-upgrade Next plan. Those whose contracts have run out also qualify.

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US factory orders fall 0.9 per cent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories received fewer orders in October, as aircraft demand fell and businesses cut back on computers. The decline suggests companies were hesitant to invest during the 16-day partial government shutdown.

Factory orders dropped 0.9 per cent in October, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That followed a 1.8 per cent increase in September.

A big reason for the decline in October was a steep drop in orders for aircraft.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 68.26 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 15,821.51. The Nasdaq composite declined 4.84 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 4,033.16. The S&P 500 index fell 7.78 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,785.03.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery rose 18 cents to $97.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 90 cents to $110.98 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

Natural gas added 17 cents to $4.13 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $2.71 a gallon. Heating oil shed 1 cent to $3.05 a gallon.

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