WASHINGTON – U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy.
The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 54.7 from 54.2 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. November’s figure is above the 12-month average of 54.4.
The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the workforce.
A measure of employment fell to the lowest level since July but still showed companies added workers last month.
One reason for the decline was that Superstorm Sandy forced many businesses to close in November, economists noted.
And some companies may be postponing hiring because of worries over the “fiscal cliff.”
Government acting against baby recliners
WASHINGTON – The government is taking action against the makers of a portable baby recliner called the Nap Nanny after five infant deaths.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission filed an administrative complaint Wednesday alleging that the new model of the Nap Nanny, called the Chill, and two earlier versions “pose a substantial risk of injury and death to infants.”
The commission is seeking an order that would require Nap Nanny maker Baby Matters LLC of Berwyn, Pa., to notify the public about what the agency deems a serious product defect.
Baby Matters went out of business a month ago, according to an email from the company. On its website is a message from owner and founder Leslie Gudel that says, “We do not believe the complaint has merit and stand behind the safety of our product when used as instructed.”
She adds that “no infant using the Nap Nanny properly has ever suffered an injury requiring medical attention.”
Some of the cases involved recliners that were placed in a crib, which the company has urged parents not to do. The Nap Nanny should be placed on the floor with the harness secured.
The first two versions of the foam recliner were recalled in July 2010 when the agency was aware of one death and 22 reports of infants hanging out or falling over the side of the Nap Nanny even though most of the infants had been placed in the recliner’s harness. Since then, the agency has learned of 4 more deaths.
In all, the CPSC says it has received over 70 reports of children nearly falling out of the recliners.
BMW to roll out 4 Series coupe
DETROIT – It’s only one number higher. But BMW is hoping that a small numerical change will translate into extra dollars on the showroom floor.
For decades, the German automaker has sold an array of iconic 3 and 5 Series automobiles. Now it is adding a new category: The 4 Series, BMW said in a statement Wednesday.
That category will debut with a coupe that now is part of the 3 Series.
“The ‘4’ stands for greater sportiness, greater exclusivity and even clearer differentiation from the BMW 3 Series range,” the statement said.
The new coupe, which has its own design, adds to the qualities of the 3 Series in aesthetics, dynamics and elegance, the company said. It’s longer, wider and lower than the current coupe.