Financial & Business News
Last Update on December 09, 2013 08:31 GMT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly higher today as signs of U.S. economic recovery offset concerns that the Federal Reserve may reduce its monetary stimulus this month.
The U.S. on Friday reported a fourth straight month of job gains, with 203,000 new jobs created in November. The unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent from 7.3 percent.
Improvement in the U.S. economy, which is the world's largest, could be a boon for export-reliant Asian nations.
A run of strong economic data last week had already cemented belief among investors that the Fed would back a so-called tapering of its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.
Some analysts, however, said the jury is still out on the timing of stimulus reduction.
Benchmark crude oil rose to near $98 a barrel. The dollar was little changed against the euro and fell against the yen.
NEW YORK (AP) -- A majority of business economists believe the Federal Reserve will begin to pull back on its massive economic stimulus program early next year, according to a recent survey.
The National Association of Business Economists said 62 percent of its forecasters expect the Fed will pull back on its bond-buying program in the first quarter of 2014. Another 30 percent believe the Fed will begin to reduce its bond buying in the second quarter of 2014.
The Federal Reserve has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month in an effort to keep interest rates low and stimulate the economy.
Also in its survey, the NABE said the majority of its forecasters expect the U.S. economy will grow faster in 2014 than it did this year.
ECONOMY-THE WEEK AHEAD
UNDATED (AP) -- There are no U.S. government economic reports set for release today. But in Germany, the government reports October industrial production figures for Europe's biggest economy.
On Tuesday, there are two U.S. government reports for stock traders to look at.: wholesale trade inventories for October; and October's job openings and labor turnover survey.
The Treasury Department releases the federal budget for November on Wednesday.
Investors will be anxious to see the weekly jobless claims numbers on Thursday. Also due out that day: retail sales data for November; and business inventories for October. Freddie Mac will report the weekly mortgage rates as well.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release the Producer Price Index for November.
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- The average price of gasoline in the U.S. is up 3 cents a gallon in the past two weeks.
According to the Lundberg Survey released Sunday, the price of a gallon of regular is now $3.29. Midgrade averages $3.47 and premium is $3.62.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says gas prices have risen 6 cents a gallon over the past month after nine straight weeks of decline.
However, prices are still nearly a dime lower than at this time last year.
Of cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, the lowest price, $2.84 a gallon, was in Tulsa, Okla.
Los Angeles had the highest, at $3.61.
CRACKING THE EGG
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Can plants replace eggs? A San Francisco startup backed by Bill Gates believes they can.
Hampton Creek Foods is scouring the planet for plants that can replace chicken eggs in everything from cookies to omelets to French toast. Its first product is an egg-free mayonnaise now sold at Whole Foods Markets.
The upstart is part of a new generation of so-called "food-tech" companies that aim to change the way we eat. They face powerful food industries and a skeptical public.
Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors, Hampton Creek seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces.
The egg industry says the public prefers real eggs, and their practices have improved in recent decades.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek lawmakers have passed the government's 2014 budget, which forecasts a return to growth after six consecutive years of deep recession, but its revenue and spending targets have been contested by the country's creditors who have provided more than 240 billion euros ($329 billion) in bailout aid since 2010 to keep heavily indebted Greece from going bankrupt.
As expected, the government coalition of conservatives and socialists held up in the Saturday night vote, with 153 lawmakers in the 300-member parliament voting for the budget and 142 voting against.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is hailing the budget as a first step in Greece exiting the bailout and notes that the economy would expand a modest 0.6 percent in 2014, the first positive figure since 2007.
BEIJING (AP) -- China's November exports accelerated but imports weakened in a possible sign an economic recovery is slowing.
Trade data on Sunday showed export growth rose sharply to 12.7 percent over a year earlier, up from October's 5.6 percent expansion.
But import growth drifted down to 5.3 percent from the previous month's 7.6 percent. That suggested a rebound from a deep decline in growth might be ending.
China's economic growth rebounded in the third quarter of the year from a two-decade low.
But forecasters warned that revival relied on a government mini-stimulus based on higher spending on railway construction and other public works. They said economic growth might decline again late in the year or in early 2014.
BEIJING (AP) -- China's inflation edged down in November, giving Beijing more room to stimulate the economy if needed.
Data showed consumer prices rose 3.0 percent, down from October's 3.2 percent. Price increases were driven by a 22.3 percent rise in the cost of fresh vegetables and a 5.9 percent gain for food prices overall.
Lower inflation could give Beijing more room to ease monetary policy or take other steps to stimulate economic growth if communist leaders decide that is needed.
Economic growth rebounded to 7.8 percent in the three months ending in September after hitting a two-decade low. But analysts say that recovery might fade late this year or early in 2014, raising new concerns about politically volatile job losses.
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has revised its economic growth estimate downward after finding that capital investment slowed more than expected in July-September.
The government said Monday that the world's third-largest economy grew an annualized 1.1 percent in the last quarter, less than half the pace of the previous quarter. The previous estimate had put growth at 1.9 percent.
The economy grew at a 4.3 percent pace in the first quarter of the year and 3.8 percent in April-June.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's growth strategy centers on easy money, a weak yen and longer-term reforms to boost competitiveness, but corporate investment and personal incomes have yet to rebound.
The revised data for the third quarter showed that the economy expanded 0.3 percent from the second quarter. The original estimate was 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter growth.
NEW YORK (AP) -- After a New York commuter train derailment killed four people, two federal lawmakers want trains to be outfitted with cameras pointed at engineers and at the tracks.
Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut held a news conference Sunday at Grand Central Terminal, one week after the derailment in the Bronx. The Democratic lawmakers are urging the Federal Railroad Administration to implement the cameras.
The National Transportation Safety Board has suggested it.
The railroad administration hasn't immediately responded to messages seeking comment on the idea. There's also no immediate comment from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It runs Metro-North, the railroad involved in the crash.
A lawyer and union leader for the derailed train's engineer have said he briefly nodded or experienced a daze at the controls.
More than 60 people were injured.
PRATT & WHITNEY-MACHINISTS
Pratt & Whitney machinists approve new contract
WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Machinist union members who work at jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney narrowly approved a new three-year contract Sunday, signing off on a deal that includes 2.5 percent pay raises each year and a $2,000 ratification bonus.
Union leaders had recommended workers reject the contract, which takes effect Monday and will cover about 2,800 Pratt & Whitney employees at the company's headquarters in East Hartford, Conn., and its plant in Middletown, Conn. The final vote was 1,119 to 1,033, according to the union's chief negotiator, Mike Stone.
Stone says union officials opposed the contract because about 100 union members are slated to lose their jobs and the positions won't be refilled because of relocation of certain materials work to a third-party provider. Pratt & Whitney officials say there will be voluntary separation packages for 140 employees because of the change.
The contract covers members of locals 700 and 1746 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Pratt & Whitney officials say they're pleased with the new contract.
GAY RIGHTS-CORPORATE SUPPORT
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The nation's largest gay rights group says corporate support for gay and transgender workers is reaching new corners of the country and the economy six months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Human Rights Campaign found that more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies and 90 percent of all the large employers it surveyed are now offering health insurance and other spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of their employees.
In a report card scheduled to be issued Monday, the campaign says that retail giant Wal-Mart, Hormel Foods and fast-food chain Wendy's are among the corporations extending the benefits for the first time next year.
The group's 12th annual Corporate Equality Index also found a record number of businesses adopting policies prohibiting discrimination against transgender workers and job applicants.