Update on the latest in business:
US stocks veer lower
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are veering lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street, led by drops in technology companies and banks. Energy companies were also lower as the price of crude oil continued to decline.
Investors shifted money into safer holdings after more than a week of aggressive buying. Consumer staples and utilities were among the biggest gainers.
Johnson & Johnson led health care stocks higher.
US consumer prices edged up 0.1% in May
WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumer prices increased a slight 0.1% in May, as inflation was tempered by lower costs for gasoline, electricity and used cars. The Labor Department says that the consumer price index rose 1.8% during the past year. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.1% in May and 2% from a year ago.
Inflation has been consistently muted, slightly below or near the Federal Reserve’s target of 2% even though the economy is poised in July to set the record for the longest expansion in U.S. history.
Falling unemployment rates and a pick-up in wages have done little to push prices higher. Adjusted for inflation, average hourly earnings have climbed 1.3% in the past year. That same annual figure was up just 0.2% in May 2018.
Ford recalls 1.3M vehicles for suspension, transmission woes
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) – Ford is recalling over 1.3 million vehicles mainly in North America to fix rear suspension and transmission control software problems.
The largest recall covers over 1.2 million Explorer SUVs from 2011 through 2017. Ford says a rear suspension toe link can break if the suspension moves a lot. That can limit steering control. One customer reported running into a curb when a link broke, but Ford says it’s not aware of any injuries. Dealers will replace the left and right toe links, which keep weight on the tires.
Ford also is recalling 123,000 2013 F-150 pickups for a second time to stop transmissions from unintentionally downshifting into first gear. The recall covers pickups with 5-liter and 6.2-liter gas engines. A previous software update didn’t work. Dealers will update it again.
GENERAL MOTORS-FACTORY INVESTMENT
GM sinks $150M into Michigan truck factory to boost output
FLINT, Mich. (AP) – General Motors says it will spend $150 million so it can make more heavy-duty pickup trucks at its Flint, Michigan, assembly plant. The money will improve the factory’s conveyor system and for other equipment to boost output.
The factory builds heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups which are all-new for the 2019 model year.
No new jobs are tied to today’s announcement, but GM announced earlier this year that it would add 1,000 workers at the plant. The factory now runs three shifts per day and employs about 5,000.
Sales of the Sierra were down 2.2 percent through March and the Silverado fell nearly 16 percent as factories switch to the new models. GM expects increased sales and plans to increase factory capacity by 60,000 trucks per year.
Uber, Volvo Cars launching new self-driving vehicle
WASHINGTON (AP) – Uber is teaming with Volvo Cars to launch its newest self-driving vehicle.
The ride-hailing company said today that it can easily install its self-driving system in the Volvo XC90 SUV. The vehicle’s steering and braking systems are designed for computer rather than human control, including several backup systems for both steering and braking functions and battery backup power. If the primary systems fail, the backup system will immediately act to bring the car to a stop. Various sensors will allow Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and maneuver in urban areas.
Uber and Volvo Cars partnered in September 2016. This is the third car they’ve developed together and the first production car to be capable of fully driving itself.
Canadian Radarsat satellites head to orbit on SpaceX rocket
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Three satellites for the Canadian Space Agency’s Earth-monitoring Radarsat program are heading toward orbit aboard a SpaceX rocket. The Falcon 9 booster blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 7:17 a.m. today. SpaceX intends to fly the rocket’s first stage back to the base northwest of Los Angeles and area residents have been advised they may hear a sonic boom during its return.
The Radarsat satellites bounce signals off the Earth’s surface to create images even during adverse weather conditions.
The images are used for a wide range of purposes, including monitoring sea ice, disaster management and agricultural and forestry management.
Agency: Safeguards failed in fire that killed 5 at gas well
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal report says an explosion and fire that killed five workers at an Oklahoma natural gas well last year was caused by the failure of blowout prevention devices and other factors, including inadequate training and an ineffective safety management system.
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board says controls designed to prevent the uncontrolled release of gas and other fluids from the well were not effective, leading to the Jan. 22, 2018, explosion and fire near Quinton, about 125 miles east of Oklahoma City.
Among other things, the report says some operations at the Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. drilling site were conducted without the needed planning, equipment, skills, or procedures. Nullifying the primary barrier designed to prevent a blowout.
UK House of Commons rejects bid to rule out no-deal Brexit
LONDON (AP) – British lawmakers have failed in their latest attempt to ensure the U.K. can’t leave the European Union without a divorce deal. The House of Commons voted 309-298 against setting aside a day later this month for an attempt to pass legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit. Some of the 10 lawmakers vying to replace Theresa May as Britain’s prime minister are vowing to take Britain out of the EU as scheduled on Oct. 31, with or without a withdrawal agreement.
Opposition legislators fear a pro-Brexit prime minister could suspend Parliament to force a no-deal exit.
Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the proposed legislation would ensure “Parliament cannot be locked out of the Brexit process.”
More attempts to get it passed are likely.
Renault chief frustrated by French state over botched merger
PARIS (AP) – Renault’s chairman has expressed his frustration with the French government, a majority shareholder, which he says resisted a merger deal proposed by Fiat Chrysler.
Jean-Dominique Senard told a shareholders’ meeting in Paris today that “I have rarely seen a merger proposal that could give so much positive synergy.” He said that at a board meeting to discuss the plan, everyone approved “with enthusiasm” except one. Board members from Renault’s alliance member, Nissan, abstained but were positive.
He said the French government, which is Renault’s biggest shareholder, had not shared his analysis of the benefits of the merger. Senard added: “I can frankly say that disappoints me.”