U.S. trade deficit narrows, helped by energy exports

The U.S. trade deficit fell in October, helped by America’s energy boom that lifted overall exports to an all-time high.

The trade gap narrowed to $40.6 billion in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s 5.4 percent lower than the September gap of $43 billion, which was higher than estimated.

Exports rose 1.8 percent to a record $192.7 billion, buoyed by a 6 percent gain in petroleum exports. Imports rose 0.4 percent to $233.3 billion, the highest since March 2012. Oil imports rose 1.5 percent.

Service-sector index falls, shows cautious spending

U.S. service sector firms grew in November at the weakest pace since June, evidence that cautious spending by consumers and businesses may be slowing growth.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday its service-sector index fell to 53.9 in November, down from 55.4 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The index hit an eight-year high of 58.6 in August.

A measure of sales fell last month to 55.5 from 59.7.

Sales of new homes grow in fitful industry recovery

Americans ramped up purchases of new homes in October after three months of soft sales, evidence that housing is recovering fitfully.

Sales of new homes grew 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the largest monthly percentage increase since May 1980.

But the increase came after sales had fallen 6.6 percent in September to a 354,000 annual rate, the weakest since April 2012.

Private companies added 215,000 jobs in November

A private survey shows U.S. businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, powered by big gains in manufacturing and construction.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. And ADP said private employers added 184,000 jobs in October, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000.

The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government’s more comprehensive report.

Newsweek will resume printing copies next year

Paper copies of Newsweek will again roll off the presses starting next year.

Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco says the news magazine’s owners, IBT Media, want to “hit the reset button” and move to a business model where a weekly print magazine would be mainly supported by subscription fees instead of advertising.

After struggling for years, Newsweek ceased print publication at the end of 2012.

– From news service reports