Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

US stocks are falling, crude oil continues slide

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling in midday trading following the market’s biggest weekly loss in two and a half years as oil continues a six-month slide.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average are down 0.6 percent, while the Nasdaq composite 0.9 percent.

The price of oil has also dropped, erasing an early gain. Oil has fallen by about half since June on waning global demand and abundant supplies. The recent drop to five-year lows has been roiling stock markets.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Fed likely to note gains but signal no rate hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — A resurgent U.S. economy has emerged from a long struggle with high unemployment and weak growth. And the Federal Reserve seems poised to recognize the sustained improvement.

In a statement it will issue after a policy meeting ends Wednesday, the Fed may no longer say it plans to keep a key interest rate near zero for a “considerable time.” If so, the Fed would be signaling that it’s eventually moving closer to raising rates.

Yet even if the Fed drops the “considerable time” phrase, few envision any imminent rate hike. Most economists think the Fed will wait until June to raise short-term rates for the first time since it cut them to record lows during the 2008 financial crisis. And some think that as long as inflation stays below the Fed’s target rate of 2 percent, it could wait.

Low rates can encourage borrowing and spending and fuel growth. But if left too low for too long, they can accelerate inflation.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Factory output eclipses pre-recession high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing output in November has surpassed its prerecession peak, as auto production kicked into a higher gear.

The Federal Reserve says factory production rose 1.1 percent last month, up from a 0.4 percent improvement in October. Manufacturing output has risen 4.8 percent over the past 12 months. It’s now above the previous high set just before the downturn began in December 2007.

Total industrial production grew 1.1 percent in November, rising in part as utilities faced additional demand because of colder than usual weather. Mining production slipped 0.1 percent last month.

Strong sales helped boost auto production 5.1 percent last month. Motor vehicles sold in November at an annualized clip of 17.2 million, a 4.6 percent increase from the prior year, according to Autodata Corp.

BUILDER SENTIMENT

US homebuilder sentiment slips in December

UNDATED (AP) — U.S. homebuilders are feeling slightly less confident in their sales prospects heading into next year, even as their overall sales outlook remains favorable.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slipped this month to 57, down one point from 58 in November.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

Builders’ view of current sales conditions and their outlook for sales over the next six months also declined slightly. A measure of traffic by prospective buyers held steady.

The latest reading is consistent with the NAHB’s forecast for the U.S. housing market to recover at a steady, gradual pace next year.

New home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 homes in October, the highest point since May.

EMPIRE STATE-SURVEY

Manufacturing in New York pulls back in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Manufacturing activity in New York state shrank in December for the first time in nearly two years, pulled down by a drop in orders and shipments.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday that its Empire State Manufacturing index dropped to negative-3.6 in December from 10.2 the previous month. Any figure below zero indicates contraction.

Factories in the state may be slowing after a rapid run-up in business in the fall. The index reached a five-year high of 27.5 in September.

The New York Fed’s Empire State survey provides an early look at U.S. manufacturing each month. The New York Fed surveys 200 businesses in the state and typically receives responses from 100.

FRANCE-UBER

Paris taxis block highway to urge ban on Uber

PARIS (AP) — Taxi drivers have been blocking some roads around Paris and its airports to urge the French government to ban ride-hailing service Uber.

The demonstration Monday comes as France’s Interior Ministry says UberPop, the company’s low-cost service, will be outlawed as of Jan. 1, when a new law tightens regulations for chauffeured rides.

About 200 taxis blocked the roads heading from the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport.

France is the latest of several places where Uber has faced challenges to its service, which matches people seeking rides with drivers through a smartphone app. Traditional taxis say Uber has an unfair advantage because its drivers don’t face the same requirements, insurance and taxes. The Interior Ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henry Brandet, told iTele a 2015 law would effectively ban Uber’s lowest-cost option.

NETHERLANDS-GOOGLE

Dutch watchdog demands privacy changes from Google

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch privacy watchdog is ordering Google to make changes to the way it handles users’ personal data or face fines of up to $18.7 million.

The College for the Protection of Personal Data announced Monday it is giving the Internet giant until the end of February to comply with measures aimed at giving consumers more clarity about how their personal information is used across the suite of Google services.

Privacy watchdogs in six European countries, including the Netherlands, opened investigations into Google after it amended its privacy policy early in 2012.

Al Verney, a spokesman from Google, says the company is disappointed with the order, “especially as we have already made a number of changes to our privacy policy in response to their concerns.”

BUSINESS OF COLOR

Google researching use of color in business

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Google is one of the major U.S. corporations researching the power of color in the working world, in everything from workspaces to marketing and branding.

Meghan Casserly, spokeswoman for the organization built around the popular search engine, says Google has already found “a clear link between color and satisfaction with a person’s work area,” which in turn can boost employee creativity and productivity.

Elyria Kemp, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of New Orleans, says there’s more competition than ever for time and attention, and color is “the silent salesperson.”

She says when consumers make an evaluation of a product offering, typically they do this within 90 seconds or less, and more than half of their initial assessment is based on color alone.

BLOOMBERG-CITY INNOVATION

14 cities get Bloomberg ‘innovation team’ grants

NEW YORK (AP) — Fourteen cities ranging from Long Beach, California, to Jerusalem are getting money from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation to create “innovation teams” to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues.

New York-based Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the winners Monday. They’ll receive from $400,000 to $1 million annually for three years.

Michael Bloomberg says in a statement the innovation teams help cities generate ideas and execute them.

Five U.S. cities got similar awards in 2011. The new round expands the program internationally.

The 12 U.S. cities were chosen from more than 30 applicants. Winners range in size from Centennial, Colorado, with about 106,000 residents, to Los Angeles, with nearly 3.9 million.

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel, were invited to apply after expressing interest.

HOT DAY ECONOMICS

Study: Hotter days in US mean less cold cash

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study says the hotter it is the less productive Americans are on the job.

The study by the National Bureau of Economic Research says on days that average about 77 degrees, people’s income is reduced by about $5 a day when compared with days that are about 20 degrees cooler.

The study also says that a county’s average economic productivity decreases by nearly 1 percent for every degree that the average daily temperature is above 59.

This has been seen in other studies in hotter, less developed areas such as India. But scientists and economists often assumed it wouldn’t be the case for richer countries with air conditioning, like the United States.

Study co-author Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley, says productivity is maximized when the daily high temperature hits between 65 and 70 degrees.

BOB EVANS FARMS-CEO

CEO of Bob Evans Farms stepping down from post

NEW ALBANY, Ohio (AP) — The CEO of Bob Evans Farms Inc. is stepping down after more than eight years in the post by mutual agreement with the company. The restaurant operator is working to improve its performance.

Steve Davis is also giving up his position as a board member.

Bob Evans Farms said Monday it has created an interim office of the CEO while it looks for a permanent replacement for Davis. It named Chief Financial Officer Mark Hood and Mike Townsley, president of the Bob Evans Foods division, to the office.

Bob Evan Farms has been working with several advisory firms to improve its productivity and cost controls. The New Albany, Ohio-based company also said earlier this month that it has hired Lazard to review its strategic and financial plans.

FEDEX CRASH-PACKAGES

FedEx truck overturns on highway, spills packages

MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) — A FedEx truck has overturned in northern New Jersey, spilling dozens of packages on what is typically the delivery company’s busiest day of the year.

The crash occurred at around 2:45 a.m. Monday on Interstate 289 in Mahwah.

Authorities say the driver lost control of the double-trailer and veered off the right side of the road, then went down a grass median and ended up on an exit ramp.

The driver was treated for minor injuries.

FedEx officials say company crews got to the scene shortly after the crash and quickly reloaded packages to help reduce possible delivery delays.

FedEx says it’s typically their busiest day of the year, with just 10 days to go before Christmas.


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