Business news briefs for 9/30/11
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Only about one-third of chief executives of the nation's largest companies expect to hire or spend more in the next six months, down sharply from about half who said so three months ago. The Business Roundtable said Thursday that only 32 percent of the CEOs surveyed said they expect to spend more on long-lasting equipment, such as machinery and computers. That's down from 61 percent who said so three months earlier. The number of CEOs who expect to cut staff rose to 24 percent from 11 percent, the survey found, suggesting that layoffs could grow.
Fixed mortgage rates have fallen to historic new lows for a fourth straight week and are likely to fall further. The average on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.01 percent this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That's the lowest rate since the mortgage buyer began keeping records in 1971. The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, ticked down to 3.28 percent. Economists say that's the lowest rate ever for the loan.
Nokia Corp. on Thursday announced a further 3,500 job cuts by 2012 as it strives to save costs and restructure while its global market share falls due to stiff competition in the smartphone sector. Among the facilities Nokia plans to close is one in Malvern, Pa.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week. Weekly applications dropped 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 391,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest level since April 2 and the first time applications have fallen below 400,000 since Aug. 6.
A Tokyo-headquartered auto parts supplier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $200 million fine in what the Justice Department said Thursday is an active investigation into an international price-fixing and bid-rigging cartel. Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. and three of its executives, who also have agreed to plead guilty, conspired with competitors and as a result "automobile manufacturers paid noncompetitive and higher prices for parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers," said Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division.
A federal judge ruled on Thursday that United Airlines can go ahead with changes in flying procedures that its pilots union had opposed because of safety concerns. United said it would implement the changes today as planned. The Air Line Pilots Association at United had said in a court filing on Monday that they weren't given enough time to get used to the new procedures for situations such as what to do when caught in a strong wind gust, or which pilot handles which jobs in the cockpit.
First Published September 30, 2011 12:00 am