National and world business news

2013-04-17T00:00:00Z National and world business newsFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
April 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Housing starts surged in March, passed 1 million

WASHINGTON - U.S. homebuilders broke the 1 million mark in March for the first time since June 2008. The gain signals continued strength for the housing recovery at the start of the spring buying season.

The overall pace of homes started rose 7 percent from February to March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Apartment construction, which tends to fluctuate sharply from month to month, led the surge. It jumped nearly 31 percent to an annual rate of 417,000, the fastest pace since January 2006.

Consumer prices drop, thanks to cheaper gas

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumer prices declined last month as the cost of gas fell sharply and food prices were unchanged. The tame reading is the latest evidence that the sluggish economy is keeping inflation in check.

The consumer price index declined a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in March, after jumping 0.7 percent in February, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Gas prices fell 4.4 percent, reversing part of February's 9.1 percent gain.

The figures came a day after the prices of many commodities, including copper and oil, fell after a report of slower-than-expected growth in China. That suggests U.S. consumer prices will likely stay low in the coming months.

Twitter close to deal for hosting TV clips, ads

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter is close to reaching partnerships with television networks that would bring more high-quality video content and advertising to the social site, Bloomberg News reports.

The company has held talks with Viacom about hosting TV clips on its site and selling ads alongside them. Twitter has also discussed a content partnership with Comcast's NBCUniversal.

Twitter, which began in 2006 as a service for 140-character status updates, is racing to add entertainment and news video content that will get users to spend more time on the site and watch ads. That would build on its existing partnerships with ESPN, Weather Channel and Turner Broadcasting System.

American Airlines fixes disruptive computer glitch

DALLAS - American Airlines says it fixed an outage in its main reservations system that disrupted travel for thousands of passengers whose flights were delayed or canceled on Tuesday.

Tracking service FlightAware said that as of midafternoon Tuesday, American had canceled more than 700 flights and another 765 flights were delayed.

American's flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix resumed in the afternoon.

GM's 1Q global sales rise to beat Volkswagen's

DETROIT - General Motors edged out fast-growing Volkswagen in first-quarter sales as both companies try to close the gap with Toyota for the global world sales crown.

Toyota, which is scheduled to release first-quarter numbers next week, dethroned GM to retake the top spot in 2012, a year in which VW posted record sales and came within 190,000 vehicles of beating GM.

GM said Tuesday that it sold 2.36 million cars and trucks around the world from January through March, a rise of 3.6 percent over the first quarter of 2012. VW global sales rose 5 percent to 2.27 million vehicles, but the company cautioned that markets outside North America and China, particularly in Europe, "are becoming even more difficult."

Cars and utilities lift US industrial output

WASHINGTON - U.S. industrial output rose in March as cold weather kept utilities busy generating heat and a surge in auto production helped offset broader weakness in manufacturing.

Production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.4 percent in March from February, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Utility output rose 5.3 percent.

IMF cuts its forecast for 2013 global economy

The International Monetary Fund has lowered its outlook for the world economy this year, predicting that government spending cuts will slow U.S. growth and keep the euro currency countries in recession.

The international lending organization cut its forecast for global growth to 3.3 percent this year, down from its January forecast of 3.5 percent. It left its prediction of 4 percent global growth in 2014 unchanged.

The IMF expects the U.S. economy to expand 1.9 percent this year, below its January estimate of 2.1 percent. Still, the IMF says the U.S. economy is improving and should expand 3 percent in 2014.

Associated Press; Bloomberg News

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