Stocks Rise as US Manufacturing Recovers
Business Roundup for Tuesday, April 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging signs of a pickup in manufacturing helped send the stock market higher. It was the third straight gain for the market. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index beat its latest record high close set on March 7. Ford rose after reporting higher sales for March and Intuitive Surgical jumped after regulators approved the company’s latest robotic surgery device.The S&P 500 rose 13 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 1,885 points Tuesday. Eight of the ten sectors in the index rose, led by consumer discretionary and technology stocks.The Dow Jones industrial average rose 74 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,532. The Nasdaq composite rose 69 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,268.Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.76 percent.
DETROIT (AP) — Lawmakers are demanding answers from GM’s new CEO and the head of the nation’s auto safety watchdog about a defect linked to 13 deaths. In written testimony, acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Friedman says GM had information connecting defective ignition switches to the non-deployment of air bags, but didn’t share it until last month. In her prepared testimony, GM CEO Mary Barra says she can’t explain why it took years for the defect to be announced but vows to find out.
DETROIT (AP) — Automakers are reporting that U.S. sales of new cars and trucks started to accelerate halfway through March. Chrysler says its domestic sales jumped 13 percent, helped by strong demand for the new Jeep Cherokee and the Ram pickup. Subaru’s sales were up 21 percent as sales of its new Forester SUV soared. Nissan’s sales were up 8 percent. Ford’s rose 3 percent. And Toyota says sales rose 5 percent. Sales fell for Volkswagen and Hyundai.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece is planning to tap bond markets for the first time since its financial crisis left it dependent on international bailouts. The country’s finance minister made the announcement hours after fellow eurozone countries agreed to release long-delayed rescue loans. Greece last issued long-term debt in April 2010. Its 10-year bonds later became unaffordable, with investors asking for 30 percent interest. That rate has since fallen to about 6.5 percent after the country improved its finances.
NEW YORK (AP) — A court has awarded Carnegie Mellon University $1.54 billion in a patent dispute with chip maker Marvell Technology. The judge ruled that Carnegie Mellon is entitled to interest and royalty payments on sales of chips Marvell made for computer hard drives. But Marvell says she rejected the university’s request for an injunction to stop Marvell from selling the chips. The award is less than the university sought, and Marvell’s shares have risen as a result.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing picked up in March. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index increased a half a point to 53.7. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. Factory output recovered from winter storms, while manufacturers also received more orders. The numbers suggest production could strengthen further in the months ahead.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh winter weather curbed construction activity in February, but construction spending still posted a slight increase. The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 0.1 percent following a 0.2 percent drop in January. A rebound in construction of hotels and other nonresidential buildings offset a decline in housing. Overall activity is 8.7 percent above the level of a year ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Home prices are up again. Real estate data provider CoreLogic reports prices in February were 12.2 percent higher than a year earlier. On a month-to-month bases, prices rose 0.8 percent from January. However, those numbers are not adjusted for seasonal patterns. The solid price gains suggest that a tight supply of available homes is boosting prices despite slowing sales.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Executives from Caterpillar are trying to explain their tax strategy to Congress this morning. Sen. Carl Levin calls it an aggressive strategy that has allowed Caterpillar to avoid paying $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes since 2000 by shifting profits to a wholly-controlled affiliate in Switzerland. While a Senate investigations subcommittee report does not accuse Caterpillar of breaking the law, Levin say the practice is not “tolerable.”
TOKYO (AP) — Global markets were mostly higher today but Asia’s main index dipped as manufacturing surveys suggested China’s economy slowed in the first quarter and a Japanese central bank survey showed pessimism at companies. The dollar fell against the euro and gained against the yen. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $101.50 a barrel.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department issues data on construction spending in February this morning. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for March. And over the course of the morning, automakers will be reporting their U.S. vehicle sales numbers for March.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece is hoping for a nod from European Union finance ministers who are meeting in Athens amid tight security. Greece has been dependent on rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010. Greece is looking for a gesture of support for the release of long-delayed funds from the country’s multi-billion-euro bailout.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The unemployment rate across the 18-country eurozone in February remained steady near record highs. The European Union’s statistical agency says the jobless rate was 11.9 percent, where it has been since October. It peaked at 12.1 percent last year. Eurostat says the rate for the wider 28-nation European Union, dropped slightly to 10.6 percent from 10.7 percent in January.
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