Business Highlights The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Cars that run on hydrogen and exhaust only water vapor are emerging to challenge electric vehicles as the world’s transportation of the future.
At auto shows on two continents Wednesday, three automakers were unveiling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to be delivered to the general public as early as spring of next year.
Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. will be the first to the mass market in the U.S. with a hydrogen-powered Tucson small SUV for lease next spring. Details were to come later Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Honda also revealed plans in Los Angeles for a car due out in 2015. Earlier, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota promised a mass-produced fuel cell car by 2015 in Japan and 2016 in the U.S.
Reagan’s role in NSA’s hack of Google and Yahoo
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Back when Yahoo was something hollered at a rodeo and no one could conceive of Googling anything, President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order that extended the power of U.S. intelligence agencies overseas, allowing broader surveillance of non-U.S. suspects. At the time, no one imagined he was granting authority to spy on what became known as Silicon Valley.
But recent reports that the National Security Agency secretly broke into communications on Yahoo and Google overseas have technology companies, privacy advocates and even national security proponents calling for a re-examination of Reagan’s order and other intelligence laws.
Experts suggest a legislative update is long overdue to clear up what Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn calls “lots of big gray areas.”
Minutes: Fed could slow bond buys in coming months
WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of the Federal Reserve agreed last month that they would likely start reducing their bond purchases in coming months if the job market improved further. They also weighed the possibility of slowing the purchases even without clear evidence of a strengthening job market.
The Fed’s bond purchases have been intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low to spur spending and growth.
The minutes of the Oct. 29-30 meeting, released Wednesday, also show that members wrestled with how to assure investors that even after they cut back on the $85 billion a month in bond buys, the Fed still intends to keep its key short-term rate near record lows.
Solid October retail sales lift hopes for US economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — An increase in shopping last month during the partial government shutdown suggests that the U.S. economy may be more resilient than some have feared.
Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, after being flat the previous month. The increase showed that many consumers remain willing to spend as the all-important holiday shopping season nears.
US existing home sales fall 3.2 percent in October
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought existing homes in October, as higher mortgage rates, the 16-day partial government shutdown and a limited supply of houses on the market reduced sales.
The National Association of Realtors reported that home re-sales fell 3.2 percent last month from September to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.12 million. That’s down from a 5.29 million pace in September and the slowest since June. A healthy pace is around 5.5 million.
Sales of single family homes declined 4.1 percent, while condominium sales rose 3.3 percent.
US consumer prices drop 0.1 percent on cheaper gas
WASHINGTON (AP) — Cheaper gasoline lowered overall U.S. consumer prices slightly in October. But outside the steep drop at the pump, inflation stayed mild.
The consumer price index fell 0.1 percent last month, down from a 0.2 percent increase in September, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The October decline was due mainly to a 2.9 percent drop in gasoline costs, the largest since April. Over the past 12 months, overall prices have risen 1 percent, well below the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2 percent.
PNC Bank chief economist Stuart Hoffman said the low inflation reading ensures that the Fed will continue its extraordinary measures to spur growth.
US business stockpiles up 0.6 percent in September
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in September by the largest amount in eight months while sales posted a modest gain.
Business inventories rose 0.6 percent in September compared with August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Sales rose 0.2 percent.
A big jump in restocking helped drive faster economic growth from July through September. But there is concern that a pullback in inventory rebuilding will dampen growth in the current quarter. Rising stockpiles boost growth because they mean more factory production.
Ballooning animal controversies mar Macy’s parade
NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is awash in animal-related protests over its floats, with controversies involving the unlikely pairing of rocker Joan Jett and Shamu the killer whale.
Activists plan to line the route of next week’s parade to protest a SeaWorld float over accusations in a new documentary that the theme parks treat whales badly. And ranchers succeeded in getting Jett pulled off the South Dakota tourism float after they questioned why the vegetarian and animal-rights ally was representing their beef-loving state.
The float flaps threaten to shake Macy’s traditional position of staying out of politics and soaring silently above the fray, like the massive balloons of Snoopy, Kermit the Frog and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Slack economy raises stimulus question for European Central Bank
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Alarmingly low inflation and weak growth have led officials at the European Central Bank to consider what had once seemed unthinkable: A Federal Reserve-like program of large-scale bond purchases to jolt the region’s economy.
Even though the topic appears to be up for discussion, analysts say that the ECB may never take such a drastic step for both political and practical reasons. That’s even though others, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have used such purchases to try to stimulate their economies.
But the mere fact that several top ECB officials are talking about asset purchases represents a bit of a shift. Executive board member Peter Praet mentioned the possibility of purchasing assets during an interview last week with the Wall Street Journal. And Vice President Vitor Constancio did the same on Tuesday.
By The Associated Press
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 66.21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,900.82. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 6.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,781.37. The Nasdaq lost 10.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,921.27.
Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery fell 1 cent to close at $93.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for January delivery, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, gained $1.14 to $108.06 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline gained 2 cents to $2.66 gallon. Heating oil added 5 cents to $2.95 a gallon. Natural gas gained 12 cents to $3.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.