Factory orders increase 1.1% in March, signaling rebound

Orders to U.S. factories advanced strongly for a second month in March while demand in a key category that signals business investment plans increased by the largest amount in more than a year.

The strength was further evidence that the economy was rebounding after a harsh winter.

The Commerce Department says orders increased 1.1 percent in March after increasing 1.5 percent in February. Those gains followed two months of declines in December and January.

Orders for core capital goods, considered a good proxy for business investment, jumped 3.5 percent in March, rebounding from a 0.9 percent drop in February. It was the biggest increase since January 2013.

GM mediator begins talks to settle ignition switch lawsuits

The mediator hired by General Motors to settle claims from a deadly ignition switch problem has started talks about compensating victims’ families.

Kenneth Feinberg said he met Friday with lawyer Robert Hilliard, who represents families of 53 people who died in crashes of defective GM vehicles, and another 273 who were injured.

Feinberg says he is evaluating GM’s options regarding compensation. Hilliard said no dollar figures were mentioned but he believes Feinberg wants to reach fair settlements.

Murdoch’s News Corp. buying Harlequin for $415 million

News Corp. sees profit potential in the tales of princes, sexy soldiers and mysterious millionaires.

The publishing company controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch said Friday that it has agreed to buy romance novel publisher Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. for 455 million Canadian dollars –$415 million U.S. – in cash.

Harlequin will become a division of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers subsidiary and remain based in Toronto.

Founded in 1949, Harlequin publishes its steamy tales in 34 languages and sells them in more than 100 international markets. Its titles include the works of more than 1,300 authors and it releases more than 110 titles each month.

Times Square’s ‘Naked Cowboy’ changes his undies

It’s a natural fit. Fruit of the Loom is launching its new boxer briefs for men with the help of a Times Square favorite, the Naked Cowboy.

The New York City fixture – whose real name is Robert Burck – gained fame by strumming his guitar clad in only his underwear, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He’ll help launch the new line with promotions beginning Tuesday.

While he usually wears traditional white briefs, the marketing campaign will see him switch to Fruit of the Loom’s new boxer briefs, which have tapered legs to prevent them from riding up. Also on Tuesday, samples and coupons will be given out in Times Square.

— From news service reports