GM's new V-8 pickups to get higher mileage

DETROIT - Chevrolet is upping the ante in the tug-of-war with Ford over America's favorite vehicles: pickup trucks.

General Motors said Monday that its new Chevy Silverado will get 23 miles per gallon on the highway with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine. That's a little better than similarly equipped competitors from Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. The new trucks also promise more towing power.

That could help the Silverado get closer to unseating Ford's F-Series trucks, which have been top sellers in the U.S. for 30 years. GM sold 575,497 Silverados and GMC Sierras - the Silverado's upscale twin - last year. Ford beat that by nearly 70,000.

The Silverado will have a starting price of $23,590 excluding shipping. That's $80 less than Ford's F-150 but $950 more than Chrysler's Ram. The Sierra will start at $24,090.

Factory growth slows; construction surges

WASHINGTON - In U.S. economic reports Monday:

• Manufacturing activity expanded more slowly in March than February, held back by weaker growth in production and new orders, the Institute for Supply Management's survey showed. But factories hired at the fastest pace in nine months.

• Spending on construction projects rebounded in February, helped by a surge in home construction, which rose to the highest level in more than four years, the Commerce Department said.

Twitter, Google, others have a little foolish fun

Twitter did away with vowels; Google unveiled a button to add smells; and the digital world celebrated April Fools' Day with the rollout of mock innovations and parody makeovers.

Many of the top online destinations spent Monday mocking themselves and, in Google's case, playfully trying to lure users into pressing their noses against their computer screens.

Pizza hut goes cheesier; Boston Market adds ribs

In consumer news:

• Pizza Hut has found a way to get more cheese into American diets - a pizza crust made of little cheese-stuffed bread bowls. The chain will introduce a new pizza Wednesday that comes surrounded by 16 semi-circles of cheese that can be pulled off and eaten separately. The "Crazy Cheesy Crust" will be available for several weeks.

• Boston Market will add ribs, the chain's biggest new food launch in six years.

The Associated Press