Business Roundup for Wednesday, April 2

Floor of the New York Stock Exchange . (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging further into record territory as encouraging news on hiring and manufacturing brings more buyers into the market. The Dow Jones industrial average erased nearly all of its loss for the year and is close to the record high it set Dec. 31. The Dow gained 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 16,573 Wednesday, just three points below its all-time high. The Standard & Poor's 500 increased five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,890. The Nasdaq composite rose eight points, 0.2 percent, to 4,276. Payroll processer ADP reported that U.S. companies increased hiring at a rapid pace last month, the latest sign that the economy is picking up after a winter freeze. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.80 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of a Senate subcommittee are accusing General Motors of trying to cover up problems with an ignition switch that is now tied to 13 deaths. Panel members are pushing CEO Mary Barra (BAHR'-uh) to punish anyone involved and say GM should tell owners to stop driving all the 2.6 million cars being recalled for the faulty switch until they are repaired.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the International Monetary Fund is warning that leading nations need to embrace bold policy steps to accelerate a still-modest and fragile global economic recovery. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the European Central Bank should consider lowering interest rates further and using unconventional policies to support growth and fight inflation that is too low. Her comments came in a speech previewing next week's meetings of global finance officials in Washington.

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is introducing a set-top box that allows streaming of online video content to televisions. The company says its $99 Amazon Fire TV device has better speed, performance and search functions than other streaming services such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast. The device runs Google's Android operating system and offers Netflix, Hulu and other streaming channels in addition to Amazon Prime instant video. The box, which starts shipping today, also features thousands of free and paid games.

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is showcasing a new virtual assistant as part of an upcoming update for Windows phones. The assistant, named Cortana, tries to be chatty like Siri on Apple's iPhones and iPads, while anticipating information you might want, like Google Now on Android devices. Cortana is one of the new features coming to a Windows Phone update called 8.1. Microsoft says the feature is still in a "beta" test mode as the company tries to improve its voice recognition capabilities.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1.6 percent in February, the most in five months, after two months of declines. The gain reflects a rebound in orders for commercial aircraft and autos. But demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide to business investment plans, fell 1.4 percent in February, the second decline in three months. Many economists say that this weakness was due in part to the severe winter.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey shows that U.S. companies increased hiring at a healthy pace last month. Payroll processer ADP says private employers added 191,000 jobs in March. ADP also revised February's job creation up to 153,000 from 139,000. Hiring was healthy across most industries in March. The construction industry added 20,000 jobs, up from an average 16,000 the previous three months. Financial firms added 5,000 jobs, the most since November. The government's employment report for March comes out Friday.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Monsanto says its second-quarter earnings jumped 13 percent on strength from its core seeds and traits business. The agriculture products company topped Wall Street expectations for both profit and revenue, sending its shares higher. Monsanto has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for years and recently began expanding its footprint in emerging markets like Argentina, Brazil and parts of Asia.

BERLIN (AP) — Lufthansa has canceled almost 900 domestic and intercontinental flights today after the pilots' union started a three-day strike in a wage dispute with Germany's largest airline. In all, the airline expects to cancel about 3,800 flights through Friday, affecting more than 425,000 passengers.

MUMBAI, India (AP) — International stock markets pushed higher today on signs of a pickup in the U.S. economy and expectations of further stimulus in Japan. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro. Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped but remains above $99.50 a barrel.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department's report on factory orders for February is the lone piece of major economic data expected today. Orders fell in both January and December. But in the January report was a sign of a potential rebound in business investment. Orders for core capital goods were up 1.5 percent, recovering after a 1.6 percent drop in December. Monsanto reports quarterly financial results.

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is denouncing the use of energy as a weapon, a day after Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine. Kerry says supplies of oil and gas have to be secured throughout the world in order to prevent their being used as political leverage or tools of aggression. He said no nation should be able to use energy to "stymie a people's aspirations."

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler is recalling nearly 870,000 SUVs because corrosion may make the vehicles' brakes harder to use. Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs from the 2011 through 2014 model years are involved. Chrysler says crimp joints in the brake boosters can corrode if they're exposed to water. If the water freezes, the boosters won't aid braking as they usually do. The company knows of one accident, but no injuries.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)