US gains 157,000 jobs; jobless rate rises to 7.9 percent
WASHINGTON (AP)—The U.S. job market is proving sturdier than expected at a time when the economy is under pressure from Washington gridlock and the threat of government spending cuts.
Employers added 157,000 jobs in January, and hiring was much stronger at the end of last year than the government had previously estimated.
The Labor Department's estimated job gains for the final two months of 2012—a period when the economy was being threatened by the fiscal cliff—rose from 161,000 to 247,000 for November and from 155,000 to 196,000 for December.
Dow ends above 14,000 for 1st time since Oct. 2007
NEW YORK (AP)—The Dow closed above 14,000 on Friday for the first time in more than five years.
It was just a number on a board, but it was enough to raise the hopes of some investors and cause others concern about an overheated market. And it brought reminders of a different era, back before the financial crisis rocked the world economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average, a stock market index that is traditionally considered a benchmark for how the entire market is faring, had been rising fairly steadily for about a month. On Friday, strong auto sales and optimism about U.S. job growth pushed it over the mark. The Dow is now just 155 points away from its record close.
Detroit, Toyota see big US sales gains in January
DETROIT (AP)—American consumers ignored tax increases and trudged through winter weather to buy new cars and trucks at an unusually strong pace last month.
Analysts said it will likely be the best January in five years once all automakers report sales. Toyota posted a 27-percent increase, while Ford sales jumped 22 percent. GM and Chrysler each reported 16 percent gains compared with a year earlier.
The results left the industry optimistic about the new year. Businesses bought more trucks. Consumers are ready to buy—their cars have reached a record average of 11.3 years old—and banks are making it easier with low interest rates and looser credit terms.
Few surprises in Super Bowl ads
NEW YORK (AP)—So much for surprises.
The majority of the 30-plus Super Bowl advertisers have been releasing their spots in the days leading up to the game. So it's unlikely there'll be lots of action off the football field to make viewers drop their jaws on Sunday.
Advertising fans already can catch a glimpse of "Spider-Man" actor Willem Dafoe in a Mercedes-Benz ad. They can watch a baby Clydesdale grow up in an Anheuser-Busch commercial. They even can spot old people partying in a Taco Bell ad.
Gone are the days when Super Bowl spots were closely guarded secrets. With the growth of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's no surprise that more advertisers are releasing ads online up to a week or more before Game Day.
Refining margins boost 4Q profit at Exxon Mobil
DALLAS (AP)—Exxon Mobil Corp. said Friday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 6 percent to $9.95 billion with help from higher refining profit margins.
The oil giant barely missed a record for full-year earnings. It earned $44.88 billion in 2012, about $340 million shy of its 2008 mark of $45.22 billion, an all-time high for a publicly traded company.
Exxon still makes most of its money by producing oil and gas, but that end of the business was less profitable than a year ago because of lower prices and production. The company made up the difference in the refining business.
Chevron profit up on asset exchange, refineries
NEW YORK (AP)—Chevron Corp. posted a 41 percent gain in net income for the fourth quarter as the company produced more oil and gas, improved the performance of its refinery business and realized a gain from swapping assets in an Australian natural gas field.
Chevron Corp. posted net income of $7.2 billion for the quarter on revenue of $60.6 billion. That's up from $5.1 billion on revenue of $60 billion a year ago.
On a per-share basis, Chevron earned $3.70. Analysts expected the company to earn $3.06 per share, according to FactSet.
Generic competition, charges cut Merck Q4 profit
Merck & Co.'s fourth-quarter profit fell 7 percent because of hits from generic competition and one-time charges, and the company pushed back plans for seeking approval of a key experimental osteoporosis drug.
The quarterly results beat Wall Street expectations, but Merck shares fell Friday as investors learned the company is reviewing safety and efficacy data from a crucial late-stage patient test of the osteoporosis drug odanacatib.
During a conference call with analysts, Merck executives said that instead of applying for approval of odanacatib in the first half of this year, the company won't do that until 2014. That will allow Merck time to finish an extension of a study that includes about 8,200 women, so it can submit those longer-term results to regulators—apparently a strategy to improve chances the drug will be approved.
Mattel 4Q results miss Wall Street's expectations
NEW YORK (AP)—It was a blue Christmas in toyland.
Weak demand over the holidays for toys like Barbie and Matchbox led Mattel's results to fall short of expectations in the key holiday quarter. A litigation charge also weighed on results and net income fell 17 percent.
Still the results from the world's largest toymaker came in stronger than the overall toy industry, and company executives vowed to do better in 2013. The fourth quarter is key because toy makers can make up to 40 percent of annual sales during the period.
Boeing engineers begin vote on strike next week
Just when Boeing really needs its engineers, they're throwing around the idea of a strike.
Boeing is working around the clock to solve the battery problems that have grounded its 787s around the world. Its unionized engineers are a big part of that effort.
But on Monday, Boeing engineers begin voting on a new contract and on whether to authorize a strike. The union is urging them to reject the contract.
Apple is biggest US phone seller for 1st time
NEW YORK (AP)—The launch of the iPhone 5 and the declining popularity of not-so-smartphones have made Apple the biggest seller of phones in the U.S. for the first time, research firm Strategy Analytics said Friday.
The firm estimates that Apple shipped 17.7 million iPhones of all kinds to U.S. buyers in the October-to-December period, accounting for one in three new phones.
Samsung Electronics of Korea was close behind, shipping 16.8 million phones. Samsung has been the largest seller of phones to the U.S. market since 2008, Strategy Analytics said.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average ended 149.21 points higher at 14,009.79. The S&P 500 rose 15.06 to 1,513.17. The Nasdaq composite index was up 36.97 to 3,179.10.
Benchmark oil for March delivery rose 28 cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up $1.21 to end at $116.76 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to finish at $3.05 per gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to end at $3.30 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil gained 4 cents to finish at $3.16 a gallon.