July 3, 2013 in Business

In brief: Factory orders up in May

From Wire Reports
 

WASHINGTON – Orders to U.S. factories rose in May, helped by a third straight month of stronger business investment. The gains suggest manufacturing may be picking up after a weak start to the year.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that factory orders rose 2.1 percent in May. April’s increase was revised higher to 1.3 percent from 1 percent.

Most of the increase in May was due to a big jump in volatile commercial aircraft demand. Still, businesses also ordered more machinery, computers and household appliances.

A category of orders that’s viewed as a proxy for business investment plans – which excludes the volatile areas of transportation and defense – rose 1.5 percent. That was even stronger than solid gains in the previous two months.

Home prices rise in 48 states

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices jumped 12.2 percent in May from a year ago, the most in seven years. The increase suggests the housing recovery is strengthening.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that home prices rose from a year ago in 48 states. They fell only in Delaware and Alabama. And all but three of the 100 largest cities reported price gains.

Prices rose 26 percent in Nevada to lead all states. It was followed by California (20.2 percent), Arizona (16.9 percent), Hawaii (16.1 percent) and Oregon (15.5 percent).

CoreLogic also says prices rose 2.6 percent in May from April, the 15th straight month-over-month increase.

Steady hiring and low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy homes. Greater demand, a limited number of homes for sale and fewer foreclosures have pushed prices higher. Prices are still 20 percent below the peak reached in April 2006, according to CoreLogic.

GM, Honda team up on fuel cells

NEW YORK – General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. are joining forces to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The two companies said Tuesday they plan to develop new hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies by 2020. They will also push for more hydrogen fueling stations.

Fuel cell vehicles have electric motors that are powered by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The only byproducts are water vapor and heat, so there’s no pollution. But the lack of infrastructure to transport and store liquid hydrogen has been a barrier to the cars’ development.

No parole for ex-Tyco head

ALBANY, N.Y. – A court in New York rejected a request Tuesday for a new parole hearing by former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski, who became the face of corporate greed after his 2005 conviction in a $100 million fraud scheme.

Kozlowski was denied parole in April 2012 and challenged the decision. A panel of midlevel Appellate Division judges, in a spare, two-paragraph ruling, said the state parole board acted properly.

Kozlowski, now 66, and former Tyco International Ltd. chief financial officer Mark Swartz, 52, were convicted of fraud and larceny and sentenced to 81/3 to 25 years in prison. Both are being held at the minimum-security Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem and have parole hearings scheduled in September.

Apple to fund solar plant

RENO, Nev. – Apple Inc. said it will pay for construction of an 18-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant in northern Nevada to provide power for a data center the technology giant plans east of Reno.

The Fort Churchill Solar Array, to be built in Yerington, was included in a filing Monday by NV Energy Inc. with the Public Utilities Commission.

Apple announced plans last year to build the data center. The solar generating plant would be located in Lyon County, south of that facility. The solar plant proposal must be approved by state regulators, a process that could take several months.

Once completed, the 137-acre solar array would generate about 43.5 million kilowatt hours of renewable power.

Unemployment rates increase

WASHINGTON – Unemployment rates rose in two-thirds of U.S. cities in May, as steady hiring encouraged more of those out of work to look for jobs.

The Labor Department says rates rose in 243 of the 372 largest cities. They fell in 109 and were unchanged in 20.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in May from 7.5 percent, as more people launched job searches. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are looking for jobs.

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