WASHINGTON – U.S. service firms grew last month at the fastest pace since August as new orders and sales grew, adding to evidence that the economy is picking up after a slow start to the year.
The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its service-sector index rose to 55.2 from 53.1 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing executives.
The figures come after a healthy jobs report on Friday also fueled hopes for an improving economy. The government said employers added 288,000 jobs in April, the most in 2 1/2 years, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent.
The jobs report wasn’t all positive, however. The rate fell mostly because fewer people began looking for work. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for a job. And the jobs figures showed that wages were flat last month.
Second engineering exec retiring from GM
DETROIT – Another high-ranking General Motors engineer is leaving the company in the wake of its delayed recall of small cars with faulty ignition switches.
Jim Federico, who most recently headed safety, vehicle performance and testing labs, is retiring after almost 36 years with the company. GM said he’s leaving on his own to work outside the auto industry.
Federico was GM’s highest-ranking executive with safety in his title in February, when the company began recalling 2.6 million older-model small cars to replace the defective ignition switches. He was also the chief engineer for global small cars in 2010, and was involved in an internal investigation into the faulty switches.
The switches can unexpectedly move out of the “run” position, shutting off the engine and disabling the power-assisted steering and brakes, and the air bags. GM says the problem has been linked to 13 deaths, but one trial lawyer says he has 53 wrongful death lawsuits against GM due to the problem.
Federico reported to global engineering chief John Calabrese, who retired last month after 33 years at GM. Both Calabrese and Federico reported up the chain of command to CEO Mary Barra, who was in charge of safety when she was head of global product development from Feb. 1, 2011, until she took the top job in January of this year.
Amazon introduces Twitter-user service
NEW YORK – Amazon wants to make shopping online as easy as a tweet.
The online retailer is introducing a service that lets Twitter users add Amazon.com products to their carts without leaving the social media site.
The service comes as Amazon seeks to make social media a bigger source for sales. Twitter also has been seeking new revenue streams beyond advertising services like promoted tweets.
Under the program, users must link their Amazon.com account with their Twitter account. Then they need to add the hashtag #AmazonCart when replying to a tweet that has an Amazon product link. The product will then be automatically added to their shopping cart.
Affinity Gaming says payment system hacked
LAS VEGAS – A Las Vegas company that owns casinos in four states said its system for processing credit and debit card information has been hacked.
Affinity Gaming issued a statement last week saying it has no evidence that credit card information is being stolen. Company officials say they’ve taken steps to secure the system, and the independent cybersecurity firm Mandiant was looking into the breach.
Affinity owns 11 casinos, including five in Nevada, three in Colorado, two in Missouri and one in Iowa.