Business Highlights


Solid US job growth cuts unemployment to 7 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. job market has been recovering fitfully for three years. Now, it’s starting to show consistency.

Employers added 203,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate fell to 7 per cent, a five-year low. Stock investors were heartened by the news and sent the Dow Jones industrial average up sharply Friday.

The economy added an average of 204,000 jobs from August through November, up sharply from 159,000 a month from April through July. The robust gain suggested that the economy will begin to accelerate. As more employers step up hiring, more people have money to spend to drive the economy.

The job market has shown signs of strengthening at other times since the recession ended 4 1/2 years ago, only to weaken and discourage hopes. Some economists say this time, employers may have enough confidence in the economy and consumer demand to step up hiring. A sturdier job market would, in turn, accelerate Americans’ spending and energize economic growth.


FDA approves breakthrough hepatitis C drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gilead Sciences Inc. says the federal government has approved its highly anticipated hepatitis C drug that is expected to offer a faster cure to millions of people infected with the liver-destroying virus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill Sovaldi as a daily treatment in combination with older drugs to treat the major forms of hepatitis C.

Current treatments for hepatitis C can take up to a year of therapy and only cure three out of four patients. Sovaldi is a daily pill that cures roughly 90 per cent of patients in just 12 weeks, according to company studies.

The approval comes as the federal government urges baby boomers to get tested for the disease. Hepatitis C is five times more common among people born between 1945 and 1965.


US to allow eagle deaths — to aid wind power

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under pressure from the wind-power industry, the Obama administration said Friday it will allow companies to kill or injure eagles without the fear of prosecution for up to three decades.

The new rule is designed to address environmental consequences that stand in the way of the nation’s wind energy rush: the dozens of bald and golden eagles being killed each year by the giant, spinning blades of wind turbines.

An investigation by The Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration’s reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Barack Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America’s wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming.


Ice storm snarling deliveries nationwide

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Whether you’re ready to ship that holiday package across the country or waiting for your next shipment of cooking grease, now’s not the best time to be in a hurry.

Businesses small and large are waiting for pickups and consumers across the land are receiving notices that their packages will be delayed because of a massive, icy blast that will eventually hit from coast-to-coast.

For people who rely on the shipping industry, the storm comes at the worst time: the height of the holiday mailing season.


US consumer spending up 0.3 per cent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers increased their spending in October even though their wages and salaries barely increased, raising questions about how strong the economy will grow at the end of the year.

Consumer spending increased 0.3 per cent in October compared with September when spending rose 0.2 per cent, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Wages and salaries rose a slight 0.1 per cent after a much stronger 1 per cent rise in September.


Consumer borrowing rose $18.2 billion in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans boosted their borrowing in October, led by another big increase in auto and student loans and the biggest rise in credit card debt in five months.

The Federal Reserve says consumers increased their borrowing by $18.2 billion in October to a seasonally adjusted $3.08 trillion. That is a record level and follows a September increase of $16.3 billion.

The increase was led by a $13.9 billion rise in borrowing for auto loans and student loans. But borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $4.3 billion following a decline of $218 million in September. It was the biggest monthly credit card gain since May and could be a sign that consumer spending will increase in coming months. Credit card borrowing has lagged other types of debt.


Sears to spin off Lands’ End business

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. said Friday that it will spin off its Lands’ End clothing business as a separate company by distributing stock to the retailer’s shareholders.

It’s the latest move by the struggling retailer to turn around its results as it faces wider losses and increasingly displeased investors.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow closed up 198.69 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 16,020.20. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 20.06 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,805.09. The Nasdaq composite climbed 29.36, or 0.7 per cent, to 4,062.52.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery rose 27 cents at $97.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.73 a gallon. Heating oil added 1 cent to $3.06 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $4.11 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 63 cents to $111.61 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.