Weak jobs report could shape Fed decision on bonds
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers have yet to start hiring aggressively — a concern the Federal Reserve will weigh in deciding this month whether to slow its bond buying and, if so, by how much.
Employers added 169,000 jobs in August but many fewer in June and July than previously thought, the Labor Department said Friday. Combined, June, July and August amounted to the weakest three-month stretch of job growth in a year.
The unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 per cent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work reached its lowest point in 35 years.
Car prices hit record as buyers load up on options
DETROIT (AP) — Americans are paying record prices for new cars and trucks, and they have only themselves to blame.
The average sale price of a vehicle in the U.S. hit $31,252 last month, up almost $1,000 over the same time last year. The sharp increase has been driven by consumers loading cars up with high-end stereos, navigation systems, leather seats and safety gadgets.
It's a buying pattern that began around two years ago with low interest rates that let buyers choose pricier cars while keeping monthly payments in check. And automakers have also offered cheap lease deals that include fancy options.
China's yuan joins world's most traded currencies
HONG KONG (AP) — China's yuan has joined the ranks of the most traded currencies for the first time, underlining the growing might of the country's economy, the world's second-largest.
The yuan became one of the top 10 traded currencies in 2013, rising to No. 9 on the list due to a "significant expansion" in offshore trading, the Bank for International Settlements said in a report Thursday. It's a sharp jump from the bank's last survey in 2010, when the yuan, also known as the renminbi, was No. 17 on the list.
Turnover in trades involving yuan surged to $120 billion a day on average in April 2013, three and half times more than the $34 billion in 2010. Still, that figure is dwarfed by the dollar, which accounted for about $4.7 trillion daily.
Mulally says no plans to leave Ford early
BERLIN (AP) — The chief executive of Ford Motor Co. says he has no plans to leave the company early after reports that he might be tipped to take a leading role at software maker Microsoft Corp.
Ford said last year that Alan Mulally would stay with the company through at least 2014.
The 68-year-old on Friday batted aside talk of an early exit, telling reporters in Berlin that "I absolutely personally love serving Ford and we have no changes planned going forward."
US study says amount of arsenic in rice is low
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says consumers shouldn't worry too much about levels of arsenic in rice — but should vary their diets just in case.
The agency, which monitors drugs and products for safety, released a study Friday of arsenic in 1,300 samples of rice and rice products, the largest study to date looking at the carcinogen's presence in that grain. Consumer groups have pressured the FDA to set a standard for the amount of arsenic that can be present in rice products.
The study shows varying levels, with the most arsenic in brown rice and the least in instant rice. Infant cereal and infant rice formulas are also at the low end of the spectrum.
J&J recalls Infant Motrin due to plastic specks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Johnson & Johnson is recalling 200,000 bottles of Motrin Infants formula due to the risk that they contain tiny plastic particles.
J&J's McNeil unit said Friday that the recall affects three lots of its popular Motrin Drops Original Berry Flavor, which is used to lower fever and treat aches and pains in children 2 years old and younger. The company warned that the medicine may be contaminated with specs of PTFE, a plastic also used in Teflon coatings.
McNeil says it's unclear if the recalled bottles actually contain the particles, which were found in a different product during the manufacturing process. The company decided to issue the recall because both products contain the same shipment of ibuprofen from a third-party supplier. Ibuprofen is a common pain reliever and fever reducer, also used in Advil.
Energy Department loses $42 million on loan to van maker
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department said Friday it will lose about $42 million on a loan to a now-shuttered Michigan company that made vans for the disabled.
Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, suspended operations in February and laid off 100 workers. The company had paid back $5 million of a $50 million federal loan this spring, and the remainder of its debt was sold at auction this week to Humvee manufacturer AM General, which paid $3 million to buy the Energy Department loan.
VPG, of Allen Park, Mich., received a federal loan in 2011 under the same clean-energy program that provided a $529 million loan to electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. Fisker had received $192 million before a series of problems led U.S. officials to freeze the loan in 2011. The Obama administration has seized about $28 million from California-based Fisker, which has laid off three-fourths of its workers.
An Energy Department spokesman said sale of the VPG loan was a last resort.
Ticketmaster puts resale, unsold tickets in 1 spot
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fans of popular artists or sports teams are painfully aware how difficult it is to find good seats to live events at affordable prices. With a new ticket resale system, Ticketmaster is trying to show you what seats are available in one place — both unsold ones and those up for resale — so you can price-shop more easily.
The nation's largest ticket-seller quietly began rolling out its system, called TM+, for certain shows including a Black Sabbath concert in Massachusetts in August. More than two dozen professional sports teams have signed up, including many in the NFL. With the pro football season beginning in earnest Sunday, millions of football fans could start using the system soon. So far, about 300 events have used TM+, which the company says is still in test mode.
Using a computer, ticket buyers can see where each available seat is in a stadium, how much it's selling for and whether it's a marked-up resale seat or one that hasn't been sold yet.
The Simpsons area complete at Universal Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Walking into Universal Orlando's new themed area is a bit surreal. First, you hear familiar music. Then you spot the sign: "Greetings from SPRINGFIELD U.S.A."
And then you get a faint whiff of doughnuts.
The hometown from the animated TV series "The Simpsons" has been brought to life in a theme park.
The full Springfield experience opened to the public in the park in August. Universal has slowly been adding to the area for years, building it around "The Simpsons" ride that opened in 2008. With a new ride — the Kang and Kodos Twirl 'n' Hurl — and a food court that includes Moe's Tavern, the show's beloved watering hole, the area is now complete. Other attractions found in both the show and the park include the Krustyland carnival area and the Kwik-E-Mart, a convenience store on TV and a gift shop at Universal.
Samsung's new Galaxy Notes to go on sale in October
NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung said Friday that its new versions of its Galaxy Note smartphone and tablet, along with its new smartwatch, will go on sale in the U.S. next month.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular all will carry the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. Some of the cellular carriers will also sell the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
Major retailers including Best Buy, Amazon.com, RadioShack and Wal-Mart also will carry the smartphone and smartwatch.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 14.98 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 14,922.50. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.23 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 3,660.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose less than a point, or 0.01 per cent, to close at 1,655.17.
Benchmark oil for October delivery rose $2.16, or 2 per cent, to close at $110.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, gained 86 cents to $116.12 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.85 per gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.53 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added 2 cents to $3.16 per gallon.