Last Update on December 04, 2013 18:07 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A survey of chief executives at the largest U.S. companies shows a growing number are optimistic about the economy's prospects for the next six months and expect to boost hiring.
The Business Roundtable says its index measuring CEO outlook rose to 84.5 in the October-December quarter. That's up from 79.1 in the July-September quarter.
The group is an association of chief executives at the 200 largest U.S. companies. Any reading above 50 suggests expansion.
The survey noted that 34 percent of the executives expect their companies will increase hiring in the next six months, up from 32 percent in the previous survey.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Big job gains in manufacturing and construction resulted in private companies adding the most jobs in a year.
Payroll processor ADP says today that companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. And ADP revised their October jobs numbers for private employers to 184,000 jobs, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000.
The ADP numbers often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report. Last month, the Labor Department said private businesses added 212,000 jobs in October. The Labor Department will report on November job growth Friday.
Still, the figure suggests that hiring remained healthy in November after picking up in the prior three months.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said the figures show that employers shook off the partial government shutdown in October and kept hiring, despite a drop in consumer confidence. Moody's helps compile the ADP data.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cautious spending by consumers and businesses may be slowing growth, however. The U.S. service sector firms grew in November at the weakest pace since June.
The Institute for Supply Management says Wednesday its service-sector index fell to 53.9 in November, down from 55.4 in October and an eight-year high in August. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
A measure of sales fell sharply last month to 55.5 from 59.7. While that is still above 50, the decline suggests consumers were reluctant to spend. And a gauge of hiring fell to the lowest level since May, a sign job gains may have slowed in November. The government will report last month's hiring figures on Friday.
Economists weren't overly concerned by the decline. They pointed out that the level of the index still points to growth. The government's report on gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services, will be released Thursday.
NEW HOME SALES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans ramped up purchases of new homes in October after three months of soft sales, evidence that the housing recovery is improving fitfully.
Sales of new homes grew 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the largest monthly percentage increase since May 1980.
But the increase came after sales had fallen 6.6 percent in September to a 354,000 annual rate, the weakest since April 2012. And sales in August and July were revised lower to 379,000 and 373,000, respectively.
New-homes sales have risen 21.6 percent higher for the 12 months ending in October. Still, the pace remains well below the 700,000 consistent with a healthy market.
WASHINGTON (AP) --The Commerce Department says today America's energy boom helped lift exports to an all-time high and trim the U.S. trade deficit in October to $40.6 billion. That's 5.4 percent lower than the September gap of $43 billion.
Exports rose 1.8 percent to a record $192.7 billion on a 6 percent gain in petroleum exports. Imports rose a scant 0.4 percent to $233.3 billion, the highest since March 2012. Oil imports were up 1.5 percent.
A smaller trade deficit can boost economic growth. It typically shows that American companies are earning more from sales overseas while U.S. consumers are buying fewer products from their foreign competitors.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the income gap between America's rich and poor is a "defining challenge of our time."
Obama says income inequality has jeopardized the nation's middle class. And he is urging Washington to take steps to ensure that the economy works for everyone.
Obama's remarks on the economy come as he seeks to move past the health care woes that have consumed his presidency in recent months. He acknowledged his administration's "poor execution" in rolling out the flawed website that was supposed to be an easy portal for purchasing insurance.
The president also chided Republicans for leading a "reckless" shutdown of the federal government, saying no one in Washington has "acquitted themselves very well over the past couple of months."
BROADBAND IN SCHOOLS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The effort to get high-speed broadband in every school is getting a boost from the philanthropy of two technology gurus -- Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates.
Zuckerberg's Startup: Education and Gates' foundation have contributed a combined $9 million to the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway. The San Francisco-based nonprofit is working to improve connectivity in schools.
Nearly every school has Internet access, but for many that doesn't include classrooms or the connections are super slow. That makes it difficult to videoconference scientists with students or to have digital learning programs on tablets such as iPads.
President Barack Obama's goal is to have 99 percent of students connected to superfast Internet within five years. The Federal Communications Commission is weighing changes to a program to increase connectivity in schools.