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Business Highlights

Friday - 3/7/2014, 6:20pm  ET

The Associated Press

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Job gain despite winter blast lifts economic hopes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Brutal winter weather snarled traffic, canceled flights and cut power to homes and factories in February. Yet it didn't faze U.S. employers, who added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months.

Modest but steady job growth has become a hallmark of a nearly 5-year-old economic rebound that remains sluggish yet strikingly resilient.

Though the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, it did so for an encouraging reason: More people grew optimistic about their job prospects and began seeking work. The unemployment rate is up from that multiyear low because some didn't immediately find jobs.

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Man said to create bitcoin denies it

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto said Thursday that he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be.

The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Nakamoto, 64, denied he had anything to do with it and said he had never heard of bitcoin until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago.

Newsweek stands by its story, which kicked off the relaunch of its print edition after 15 months and reorganization under new ownership.

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US trade deficit rose to $39.1 billion in January

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in January as a rise in imports of oil and other foreign goods offset a solid increase in exports.

The trade deficit increased to $39.1 billion, up 0.3 percent from December's revised $39 billion deficit, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The trade deficit is the difference between imports and exports. A higher trade deficit acts as a drag on economic growth because it means U.S. companies are making less overseas then their foreign competitors are earning in U.S. sales.

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the January trade report suggests the trade deficit will remain on a gradual downward trend this year, reflecting a shrinking U.S. energy deficit.

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US consumer borrowing up $13.7 billion in January

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers increased their borrowing in January on autos and student loans but cut back on their credit card use.

Consumer borrowing rose $13.7 billion in January following an even larger $15.9 billion rise in December, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

The category that includes auto and student loans increased $13.9 billion, while the category that covers credit cards fell $226 million, marking the third time in the past five months that credit card loans have declined.

The big overall increase pushed total borrowing to a record $3.11 trillion. Gains in borrowing are seen as an encouraging sign that people are more confident and willing to take on debt to finance consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

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Unemployment rate up for men and college grads

The U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 6.7 percent in February as men and college graduates struggled to find work, according to the Labor Department report issued Friday.

The report found that more than 160,000 men joined the ranks of the unemployed. That raised their unemployment rate to 6.4 percent from 6.2 percent, with African-American men being hit particularly hard.

February also proved frustrating for many college graduates after a quarter-million of them lost jobs, following an increase in hiring of people with bachelor's degrees in January. This group's unemployment rate, while still far below the national rate, rose to 3.4 percent from 3.2 percent.

The Labor Department said the economy overall added 175,000 jobs last month.

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Euro hits highest level against dollar since 2011

LONDON (AP) -- The euro has struck its highest level against the dollar for nearly two and a half years in the wake of the European Central Bank's decision not to cut interest rates further.

At one point Friday, the currency, which is used by 18 European Union countries, rose to $1.3917, its highest rate since it touched $1.4170 in October 2011.

The currency backed off after a slightly stronger-than-anticipated U.S. jobs report for February. Analysts think the euro is on course to climb further over the coming days, largely as a result of Thursday's decision by the ECB to not cut interest rates following a run of relatively upbeat economic data across the eurozone.

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