ECONOMY
Industrial production declined in January

U.S. industrial production fell 0.6 percent in January, stemming in large part from an 8.8 percent plunge in the making of motor vehicles and auto parts.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that the manufacturing component of the index dropped 0.9 percent last month, reversing a 0.8 percent gain in December. Over the past 12 months, factory production has increased just 2.9 percent. Manufacturing of wood products, computers, electrical equipment, apparel and chemicals also fell in January.

The decline suggests a clear cooling at U.S. factories that could prompt a slower pace of growth this year.

— Associated Press

AIRLINE INDUSTRY
Carriers to offer non-binary booking option

Major U.S. airlines say they will soon change their ticketing process to give passengers an alternative to identifying themselves as male or female.

The gender option on airline sites will soon include choices such as “Mx.” or “undisclosed.”

The airlines say they are making the change to be more inclusive in dealing with a diverse population of travelers.

American, Delta and United confirmed Friday they are updating their booking tools to add such an option. They said the change will be made in the next several weeks.

United Airlines plans to let people select U for undisclosed or X for unspecified from the gender menu when booking a ticket on its website or mobile app, said spokeswoman Andrea Hiller. They will also have the option of picking “Mx.” as a title.

Delta plans to offer a non-binary choice during booking, a spokeswoman said, and Southwest is looking into the technical requirement to do so, according to a spokesman.

Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association say the change will let airlines comply with legal requirements that passenger information match what is on the person’s ID used for travel.

— Associated Press

EARNINGS
Uber revenue up in 2018, slow in fourth quarter

Uber Technologies had $50 billion in total bookings for its ride-service and food-delivery businesses last year, as it prepares to woo investors in one of the biggest public stock listings to date.

But figures released Friday showed revenue grew just 2 percent in the fourth quarter, a sign that Uber continues to heavily subsidize rides in competitive markets.

Uber’s full-year revenue for 2018 was $11.3 billion, up 43 percent from 2017. Its losses before taxes, depreciation and other expenses were $1.8 billion.

Uber’s full-year figures are important to show potential investors the trajectory of the business. Uber in December filed confidentially for an initial public offering, which may come as early as the second quarter this year.

Uber said gross bookings for the fourth quarter were a record $14.2 billion, up 11 percent from the prior quarter. Uber’s revenue in the fourth quarter reached $3 billion, up 2 percent from the third quarter and a 24 percent increase over the previous year.

— Bloomberg

Also in Business

U.S. authorities on Friday announced criminal charges against two former Cognizant Technology Solutions officials for their roles in a bribery scheme in India and said the company will pay $25 million to settle a related civil case. The Department of Justice said former president Gordon Coburn and former chief legal officer Steven Schwartz were charged in a 12-count indictment with violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other offenses. The New Jersey-based Cognizant's payment, which includes a $6 million fine, resolves a related case by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded from a two-year low after the government shutdown ended and the Federal Reserve signaled it would hold off on interest-rate hikes. The University of Michigan's preliminary February sentiment index rose to 95.5. The measure of current conditions rose 1.2 points, while the expectations gauge jumped 6.3 points. One measure showed consumers were the most optimistic on their finances since 2004, as 44 percent anticipated improvement, and 8 percent expected a worsening, according to the report. A measure of buying conditions for long-lasting goods rose, while sentiment on consumers' current finances ticked down.

Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund and a unit of Germany's Siemens have agreed to invest over $4.5 billion in a high-speed rail link between the Russian cities of Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, the RDIF said Friday. The deal was signed by the RDIF and Siemens Mobility on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, the RDIF said. Construction will start on the railway line in 2021, it said in a statement.

— From news services