US auto sales cooled in May due to shortages
DETROIT (AP) _ U.S. auto sales cooled off in May as dealers started running short on some popular, fuel-efficient models and buyers were turned off by sharply lower incentives.
Deals aren't likely to come back until the end of this summer. Some experts are advising people to delay their purchases if they can.
"If you don't have to buy, wait until fall. If you lease a car, extend it," said Edmunds.com chief Jeremy Anwyl.
Consumers heard that message in May. There were just over 1 million cars and trucks sold in the month, down 8 percent from April and 4 percent from last May.
White House promotes auto bailouts, cites paybacks
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Taxpayers will lose about $14 billion in the government's $80 billion bailout of Chrysler and GM, the White House said Wednesday, portraying the outcome as good news since the losses are far lower than originally anticipated.
Seizing on the figures, the Obama administration took credit for the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry, assuring taxpayers that the government's bailout of Chrysler and GM was an investment worth making.
A report by the president's National Economic Council noted that as Detroit automakers rebound, the taxpayers' loss from the bailout will be about $14 billion, or less than 20 percent of the $80 billion that the Bush and Obama administration used to prop up the companies in 2008. The Treasury Department had expected losses closer to 60 percent.
Construction spending weak despite small uptick
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Builders began work on more home-remodeling projects in April. But the increase barely lifted overall construction spending above its lowest level in more than a decade, a sign that the troubled industry remains too weak to help the economy.
Construction spending rose 0.4 percent in April, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The jump in spending on home improvements offset declines in single-family homes and apartment construction. And the slight gain followed a sharp downward revision to the March figures. The government said spending rose only 0.1 percent for the month, down from its initial estimate of 1.4 percent growth.
May manufacturing activity cooled to 20-month low
WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. manufacturing activity expanded in May at the slowest pace in 20 months, the latest sign that a sharp rise in energy prices is hampering economic growth.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 53.5 percent in May from 60.4 in April.
Any reading above 50 indicates growth in manufacturing. May marked the 22nd straight month of expansion in what's been one of the few sources of strength for the economy since the recession ended nearly two years ago.
Unemployment fell in April in most metro areas
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The best month for private-sector hiring in five years and a pickup in summer jobs helped lower unemployment rates in more than 90 percent of the nation's largest cities in April.
The unemployment rate dropped in 339 metro areas in April, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It rose in 20 cities and remained unchanged in 13. It was the most cities to see a decline in a year.
Many of the areas with the steepest declines are tourist destinations, such as Ocean City, N.J., where hotels and tourist attractions add workers for the summer season. The metro employment data isn't seasonally adjusted for such trends and as a result can be volatile from month to month.
GOP presses Obama on spending Medicare
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Face to face at the White House, GOP leaders complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday that he had not produced a detailed plan of spending cuts and accused him of playing politics over Medicare as the nation careens toward a debt crisis.
The White House said Obama has in fact led on the issue and made clear that he has no intention of dropping what Democrats believe is a winning political issue: accusing the GOP of trying to destroy the popular health care program for seniors.
Massey, Alpha investors approve $7.1 billion deal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Shareholders overwhelmingly approved coal producer Alpha Natural Resources' $7.1 billion takeover of struggling rival Massey Energy Co. on Wednesday, the companies said.
Alpha immediately began absorbing Massey, replacing the company's sign on its West Virginia headquarters and filing at least 18 documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission cancelling Massey shares after the deal closed.
Sealed Air to buy Diversey Holdings for $2.9 billion
NEW YORK (AP) _ Packaging company Sealed Air Corp. said Wednesday it has agreed to buy privately-held Diversey Holdings Inc. for about $2.9 billion in cash and stock, expanding its reach into the chemical cleaning and hygiene business.
Sealed Air President and CEO William Hickey said the acquisition will take the maker of Bubble Wrap beyond specialty packaging.
Diversey, based in Sturtevant, Wis., has industrial and retail customers in the food and beverage, health care, lodging and building services businesses in more than 60 countries. It employs more than 10,000 people.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 279.65 points, or 2.2 percent, to 12,290.14. It was the biggest point drop since June 4 of last year, and the largest percentage drop since August. The S&P index lost 30.65, or 2.3 percent, to 1,314.55. The Nasdaq composite fell 66.11, or 2.3 percent, to 2,769.19.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery lost $2.41, or 2.4 percent, to settle at $100.29 per barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex trading for July contracts, heating oil gave up 4.43 cents to settle at $3.0087 per gallon and gasoline futures fell 7.30 cents to settle at $2.9773 per gallon. Natural gas lost 3.7 cents to settle at $4.629 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude fell $2.20 to settle at $114.53 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.