After months of gains, U.S. auto industry stalls in May

U.S. auto sales hit the skids in May, dropping 3.7 percent from a year earlier — a serious setback for the industry as supply shortages and gas prices took their toll.

The steepest declines were at Toyota (off 33 percent), Honda (23 percent) and Nissan (9.1 percent), all of which ran short of models because of parts shortages caused by the March earthquake in Japan.

Chrysler was the one bright spot, posting a 10.1 percent gain in sales.

South Korea’s Hyundai sped ahead of the pack — posting a 21 percent increase in sales — with fuel-efficient cars at attractive prices, and deliveries jumped 53 percent for its affiliate Kia Motors.

Business

Apple plans to follow rivals Google and Amazon.com in creating iCloud, with services to make it easier for customers to store and access content via the Internet on remote servers.

Cellphone radio waves may increase the chance of cancer, experts say.

The West Virginia Supreme Court rejected a request to temporarily bar Massey Energy shareholders from voting on a proposed $7.1 billion sale to rival coal producer Alpha Natural Resources.

The U.S. government sold its stake in Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat, at a $1.3 billion loss.

General Motors said it will invest $88 million in a Cadillac factory in Lansing, Mich., as part of a $2 billion investment in 17 U.S. factories.

Renault, seeking to move past a botched spy investigation, appointed Carlos Tavares as second in command to chief executive Carlos Ghosn.

Google said Chinese hackers targeted e-mail accounts of U.S. officials.

Ford plans to introduce its smallest engine ever by 2013, part of the race to improve fuel economy across the industry. Ford said it’s working on a one-liter, three-cylinder engine that will be available in small cars globally.

Goldman Sachs received a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney in relation to the credit crisis and the firm’s handling of mortgage-backed securities.

Moody’s Investors Service said it was reviewing the ratings of Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo for possible downgrades. It said the “too big to fail” assumption may no longer be true.

Groupon is filing for its initial public offering of stock, hoping to raise up to $750 million.

LulzSec defaced the PBS Web site and took responsibility for a new Sony hack.

American Airlines must allow its flight information to go up on Orbitz’s Web sites, a court ruled.

Germany’s decision to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 sparked a backlash from the nation’s utilities.

Sukanya Roy, 14, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “cymotrichous.”

Deals

Fortis, the Canadian utility, said it will buy Central Vermont Public Service for about $470 million to gain a foothold in the U.S. energy market.

Economy

Moody’s threatened to downgrade the U.S. debt rating if a deal on the debt ceiling isn’t reached “in coming weeks.” The U.S. has a sterling AAA rating.

U.S. job growth slowed in May as unemployment rose to 9.1 percent from 9 percent in April. Severe weather, high gas prices and vehicle supply disruptions after Japan’s earthquake contributed.

U.S. home prices have slipped to 2002 levels after a 4.2 percent drop in the first quarter that threatens the recovery.

Washington

John Edwards was indicted by a grand jury on accusations that he used campaign funds to conceal an extramarital affair while he was running for president in 2008.

Transitions

Jill Abramson will succeed Bill Keller as editor of the New York Times.

Space shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth, completing its final mission.

— From The Washington Post and news services

 
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