August 16, 2013

Briefcase

Fewer Americans seeking jobless benefits each week

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, the fewest since October 2007 -- a sign of dwindling layoffs and steady if modest job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell 4,000 to 332,000, the fewest since November 2007 and the fifth straight decline.

Companies are laying off fewer workers, a trend that has lowered applications for unemployment benefits 14 percent this year. But hiring is still sluggish, resulting in only modest net job growth.

At the depth of the recession in March 2009, weekly applications for unemployment benefits numbered 670,000. They have fallen steadily ever since.

Consumer prices inch higher reflecting only mild inflation

U.S. consumer prices rose only slightly last month as gas costs increased more slowly. Overall, the figures showed that inflation remains mild.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in July after a 0.5 percent increase in June. Gas prices rose just 1 percent after jumping 6.3 percent in June. Excluding food and gas costs, which are volatile, "core" prices also rose 0.2 percent in July.

Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen 2 percent. Core prices have increased 1.7 percent in the past 12 months, still below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent inflation target.

Home builder optimism reaches eight-year peak

Confidence among U.S. home builders is at its highest level in nearly eight years, fueled by optimism that demand for new homes will drive sales growth into next year.

The brighter sales outlook is the latest sign pointing to a sustained pickup in construction in coming months and comes as applications for permits to build single-family houses are at a five-year high.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday jumped to 59 this month from 56 in July. It was the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

Ford will drop estimates of gas mileage for hybrid

Ford will reduce gas mileage estimates for its C-Max hybrid, following an EPA investigation into consumer complaints that the car's actual mileage was lower, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Ford will drop the combined city-highway mileage listed on the window sticker from 47 mpg to 43 mpg, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the change has not been announced.

Founder of body-armor firm gets 17 years for stock scam

The founder of America's leading supplier of body armor to the U.S. military was sentenced Thursday to 17 years in prison for running a $185 million stock swindle in which he used the proceeds to finance luxuries such as lavish parties featuring Tom Petty, Aerosmith and the Eagles.

David H. Brooks, 58, founder and former chief executive of DHB Industries Inc., was convicted in 2010 of securities fraud and conspiracy for falsely inflating the value of the inventory of the Interceptor vest.

-- From news service reports

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