Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Oct 07, 2011 5:19 PM
Business Highlights


Economy adds 103,000 jobs, but it's not enough

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The jobs crisis isn't getting worse. But it isn't getting much better, either.

The economy added just enough jobs last month to ease fears of a new recession. But hiring is still too weak to bring down unemployment, which has been stuck at about 9 percent for more than two years.

The nation added 103,000 jobs in September, an improvement from the month before, the Labor Department said Friday. But the total includes 45,000 Verizon workers who were rehired after going on strike and were counted as job gains.

Even counting those workers, the job gains weren't enough to get the economy going. It takes about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. For September, the unemployment rate stayed stuck at 9.1 percent.


Merkel spells out how to bolster European banks

BERLIN (AP) _ German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe's banks should look first to raise money in the private sector before turning to governments to bolster their financial cushions against potential losses from the continent's sovereign debt crisis.

An upcoming summit of the bloc's 27 leaders should send a "signal" regarding a coordinated recapitalization of Europe's banking sector to ensure the "real economy keeps functioning," Merkel said Friday at the chancellery in Berlin, speaking alongside visiting Dutch Premier Mark Rutte.

Speculation that Europe is looking at a coordinated plan to put more money into its shaky banking sector to withstand a possible government bond default by Greece has helped stock markets rally over the past couple of days, following a dismal start to the week.


Wholesale stockpiles grew 0.4 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wholesale businesses increased their stockpiles of autos, computer equipment and heavy machinery in August, boosting inventories for a 20th straight month as their sales rose at the fastest pace in five months.

The combination of rising sales and inventories should be a good sign for future factory output.

The Commerce Department said Friday that wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in August after a 0.8 percent July gain. Sales were up 1 percent, the best showing since a 3 percent rise in March.

The stronger sales gain was an encouraging sign after a slowdown that had raised concerns about whether the economy could be in danger of toppling into a recession. Economists expect overall economic growth to post a modest rebound in the second half of this year.


Consumer borrowing dropped $9.5 billion in August

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Consumers slashed their borrowing in August by the most in 16 months. The drop suggests many worried about taking on new debt while the economy slumped and the stock market fluctuated wildly.

Fewer people used their credit cards. And a measure of demand for auto and student loans fell.

Total borrowing dropped $9.5 billion in August, the Federal Reserve said Friday. In July, borrowing increase $11.9 billion.

Americans have been struggling all year with high unemployment, meager pay raises and pricier good and gas. That has depressed consumer spending, which fuels 70 percent of economic growth.


Congressional Budget Office estimates $1.3 trillion deficit for 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A government report released on Friday predicts that the federal budget hit a near-record $1.3 trillion in the just-completed fiscal year.

The figure matches last year's deficit tally but shows slight improvement over a record set two years ago.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis is in line with previous estimates but offers yet another reminder of the government's precarious fiscal position _ just as a congressional supercommittee is working to produce at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade.


FDA approves first diabetes-cholesterol combo pill

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ The first combination pill for the millions of people with the dangerous combination of diabetes and high cholesterol won U.S. approval Friday, offering convenience _ and savings _ to patients taking multiple pills.

Juvisync, a probable blockbuster developed by Merck & Co. Inc., will be launched in a few weeks. It combines Merck's Type 2 diabetes pill Januvia with Zocor, a former Merck blockbuster in the widely used class of cholesterol drugs called statins.

The combination pill will sell for the same price as Januvia alone, about $215 per month. Generic versions of Zocor cost roughly $30 a month.

That should make Juvisync attractive for the millions of diabetics currently not taking a statin. Guidelines from the American Diabetes Association recommend that diabetics who have heart disease or are over age 40 take a statin pill daily.


Sprint: No more Clearwire devices after 2012

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint Nextel Corp. said Friday that it will stop selling phones and other devices compatible with Clearwire Corp.'s current network at the end of next year, after it switches on its own higher-speed, fourth-generation data network.

Sprint is Clearwire's largest customer and majority owner, but doesn't control it. Phones labeled "Sprint 4G" use Clearwire's network today.


Disney CEO Iger renewed through March 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Disney CEO Robert Iger will remain in his job through March 2015 and then serve as executive chairman for another 15 months to help break in a new chief executive, the company said Friday.

The definite end to what will be a decade-long tenure suggests the eventual promotion of one of his two closest lieutenants, either Jay Rasulo, 55, the chief financial officer, or Tom Staggs, 50, chairman of the parks division. The two veteran executives swapped jobs in late 2009 in a move that groomed both to take over one day.

Iger, 60, took the reins of The Walt Disney Co. in September 2005 after the tumultuous ouster of Michael Eisner following a shareholder revolt led by Roy Disney, the late nephew of the company's founder.


GM streamlines Volt plant, delays second shift

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors says it's delaying plans to add a second shift at the factory that makes its Chevrolet Volt electric cars.

The company says it has found ways to make one shift more efficient and produce the same number of cars as two shifts.

Spokesman Chris Lee says GM still will add 300 workers at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant _ but not a second shift _ by the end of this year to make more Volts.

GM won't add a second shift until late 2012 as the plant starts building the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan.

GM says demand for the Volt still is strong and it's sticking with plans to build 60,000 next year. That number includes the Opel Ampera, a version of the Volt to be sold in Europe.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 20.21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,103.12.

The S&P 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 1,155.46. The Nasdaq composite index fell 27, or 1.1 percent, to 2,479.35.

Benchmark oil was up 39 cents to end at $82.98 a barrel. Brent crude rose 15 cents to finish the day at $105.88 in London.

In other energy commodities trading, heating oil was essentially flat, finishing at $2.8588 per gallon and gasoline futures fell 3.84 cents to end at $2.6476 per gallon. Natural gas lost 11.7 cents to finish the day at $3.481 per 1,000 cubic feet.