Business update: Trade gap widens
The trade deficit rose in May to an 18-month peak as rising imports offset another solid gain in U.S. exports. The surge in imports was a hopeful sign for the economic recovery because it suggested businesses are optimistic that U.S. consumers will spend more in coming months. The trade gap grew 4.8 percent to $42.3 billion, the largest deficit since November 2008, the Commerce Department said today. U.S. exports of goods and services rose 2.4 percent to $152.3 billion. It was the largest monthly total since September 2008, the month the financial crisis struck with force. Leading the strength in exports were heavy machinery, medical equipment, power generators and commercial planes.
Stocks surge after Alcoa, CSX report strong profit: Stocks rose sharply today after earnings reports from Alcoa and CSX reassured investors about the pace of the economic recovery. Investors reacted warmly to better-than-expected profits from aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. and railroad operator CSX Corp. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 159 points in afternoon trading.
GE offers $200M fund for power projects: General Electric said today it will pledge $200 million to fund new research and development projects meant to create a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly power grid. GE and three venture capital funds will solicit ideas from entrepreneurs, researchers and startups over the next 10 weeks. Awards will be announced in November. The fund will focus on smart-grid technology designed to improve the nation’s energy network from the power plant to the home.
Obama nominates Jacob Lew as budget director: President Barack Obama nominated Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget Tuesday, charging him with putting the nation on a fiscally responsible path. “At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, he’s going to make sure the government continues to tighten its own,” Obama said in announcing Lew’s selection at the White House.
White House to highlight electric car developments: The White House plans to promote its work to develop electric cars this week, dispatching administration officials across the nation to discuss advanced batteries and new vehicles powered by electricity. President Barack Obama will travel to Holland, Mich., Thursday for the groundbreaking of a Compact Power Inc. factory, which received $151 million from a federal stimulus program to open the $303 million plant.
NYC court tosses US fleeting expletives policy: A federal appeals court today found that a government policy that can lead to broadcasters being fined for allowing even a single curse word on live television is unconstitutionally vague. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan tossed out the Federal Communications Commission’s policy after finding that it violates the First Amendment. In 2004, the FCC adopted a policy that profanity referring to sex or excrement is always indecent.
Job openings drop in May as hiring stays weak: Job openings dropped in May from the previous month and layoffs edged up, fresh evidence that employers are reluctant to add workers. The decline in job openings comes after a sharp rise the previous two months, driven by temporary government hiring for the 2010 census and more openings in the private sector. The Labor Department said today that job openings fell to 3.2 million in May from 3.3 million in the previous month. April’s upwardly revised figure was the highest in 18 months.
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