U.S. factories increase output for the fourth-straight month

December 16, 2013
MANUFACTURING
Factory output up for a 4th-straight month

U.S. factories increased output in November for the fourth-straight month, led by a surge in auto production. The gains show manufacturing is strengthening and could help boost economic growth at the end of the year.

Factory production rose 0.6 percent in November after a 0.5 percent gain in October, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

Production of motor vehicles and parts increased 3.4 percent, rebounding from a 1.3 percent decline in October. Factories also stepped up production of home electronics and chemicals.

Industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 1.1 percent in November. It was the fourth straight gain.

Colder-than-average weather drove a 3.9 percent surge in utility production. Mining output jumped 1.7 percent to reverse a similar decline in October.

Overall production for the first time surpassed the peak set in December 2007, the month the Great Recession began. Output is now 21 percent above its recession low hit in June 2009, the month the downturn officially ended.

— Associated Press

INTERNET
Canada challenges Google’s practices

Canada’s Competition Bureau filed a legal motion against Google alleging that the company is abusing its dominant position among online search engines, joining U.S. and European antitrust authorities in challenging the Web giant’s practices.

The bureau commissioner, in a federal court filing dated Dec. 11, is seeking an order requiring Google to hand over information about its business practices, including contracts. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

The bureau said it has reason to believe that Google has, since at least 2005, engaged in anti-competitive behavior. That includes signing exclusive deals with mobile operating system developers, Web publishers and Web browser developers and giving preference to its own services, such as Google News, over competitors’ content. It also said Google has restricted the use of data from its AdWords program to licensees.

The bureau said that in meetings with Google, the search-engine company pointed to a similar investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that was terminated after Google made commitments that included the removal of the AdWords restrictions. Google is currently trying to convince European antitrust regulators to wrap up a separate antitrust probe.

— Reuters

Also in Business

General Motors factories in three states soon will share in a $1.3 billion investment so they can make higher-quality pickup trucks and new fuel-efficient engines and transmissions. GM said Monday the money will go to the Flint, Mich., assembly plant; an engine plant in Romulus, Mich., near Detroit; a transmission factory in Toledo, Ohio; and a casting plant in Bedford, Ind. Most of the work will be done during the next two years.

BP will drill about 300 wells to flush gas trapped deep under the Omani desert over the next 15 years in a $16 billion project. The Khazzan project aims to extract about 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas using hydraulic fracturing technology developed in the United States.

Raoul Weil, a former high-ranking UBS banker charged with tax fraud by U.S. authorities, was freed on bail of $10.5 million Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen, is charged with helping Americans dodge taxes with secret Swiss bank accounts. Weil appeared in shackles in court three days after he was extradited from Italy. He did not enter a plea, and his arraignment was postponed until Jan. 7.

Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. weapons maker, said chief executive Marillyn Hewson also will become the Bethesda-based company’s chairman after Robert Stevens retires Dec. 31. Hewson, who ranked No. 4 in Fortune magazine’s list of the most powerful women in U.S. business for 2013, will become chairman a year after she was appointed chief executive.

CashCall, an Anaheim, Calif.-based short-term money lender, and its chief executive, J. Paul Reddam, were sued and accused of abusive lending practices by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Boston. It is the regulator’s first against a firm that makes its loans via the Internet, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. Reddam owned the racehorse I’ll Have Another, which last year won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

— From news services

Coming Today

8:30 a.m.: Consumer price index for November released.

10 a.m.: The National Association of Home Builders releases its housing market index for December.

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