Economists cut forecasts for U.S. economy growth

U.S. business economists have sharply cut their growth forecasts for the April-June quarter and 2014, though they remain optimistic that the economy will rebound from a dismal first quarter.

The average forecast for growth in the second quarter has fallen to 3 percent, according to a survey released Friday by the National Association for Business Economics. That’s down from 3.5 percent in a June survey. Growth in 2014 as a whole will be just 1.6 percent, they project, sharply below a previous forecast of 2.5 percent. If accurate, this year’s growth would be the weakest since the Great Recession.

Feds investigating possible problem in some Ford cars

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it is investigating steering problems in about 500,000 Ford cars.

The investigation covers 2004 to 2007 Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Marauder models.

NHTSA says a heat shield in the car can rust, dislodge and cause the steering shaft to jam. It has received five complaints about the issue and knows of one injury.

Stocks stabilize but markets have worst week since April

U.S. stocks stabilized on Friday and ended with a small gain, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the market’s biggest weekly drop since April.

Investors became more cautious this week as corporate earnings for the April-June period began trickling in. Worrisome news about a Portuguese bank also revived fears of another European debt crisis. That weighed on stocks, which had closed out the previous week at record highs.

Investors are now mulling whether the stock’s market valuations are justified by the outlook for company earnings, or whether they have risen too far, too fast.

As investors try to make sense of the market, “we could be in a holding pattern,” said Kristina Hooper, US Investment Strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

— From staff and news services