US Employers Add 175K Jobs, Rate Up to 7.6 Percent
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is adding jobs at a steady pace — enough to show strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts if not enough to reduce still-high unemployment.
Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters found jobs.
The government revised the job figures for the previous two months. April’s gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000. March’s was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000. The net loss was 12,000 jobs.
Investors appeared pleased by the evidence that job growth remains steady. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 200 points in late-morning trading.
Friday’s job figures provided further evidence of the U.S. economy’s resilience. The housing market is strengthening, auto sales are up and consumer confidence has reached a five-year peak. Stock prices are near record highs, and the budget deficit has shrunk.
The U.S. economy’s relative strength contrasts with Europe, which is gripped by recession, and Asia, where once-explosive economies are now struggling.
Many analysts expect the U.S. economy to strengthen later this year.
‘‘Today’s report has to be encouraging for growth in the second half of the year,’’ said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG LLC.
It also eased worries that had arisen after economic reports earlier this week had suggested that the economy might be weakening.
Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs the past three months. But the May gain almost exactly matched the average increase of the previous 12 months: 172,000.
Analysts said the less-than-robust job growth would likely lead the Federal Reserve to maintain the pace of its monthly bond purchases for at least a few more months. The Fed has said it will keep buying bonds at the same rate until the job market improves substantially. The bond purchases have helped drive down interest rates and boost stock prices.
Stock markets have gyrated in the past two weeks on speculation that the Fed would soon start to taper its $85 billion-a-month in bond buying — a step that could raise rates and cause stock prices to fall.
‘‘I think the Fed will stay on hold,’’ said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight. ‘‘They want to see numbers above 200,000 on payroll jobs on a consistent basis before they start to taper off.’’
Behravesh said he thinks the Fed will maintain its pace of bond buying through this year before scaling it back in 2014.
‘‘Today’s report is perhaps the perfect number for nervous investors,’’ said James Marple, Senior Economist at TD Economics. ‘‘It is strong enough to point to continued economic recovery but not so strong as to bring forward expectations of Fed tapering.’’
Other analysts who have predicted that the Fed would start trimming its bond purchases later this year said they didn’t think Friday’s jobs report would change that timetable.
John Canally, an economist at LPL Financial, blames the Federal Reserve for not specifying how much monthly job growth it wants to see before it scales back its bond buying.
‘‘They have not been transparent enough,’’ Canally said. ‘‘That is what has unhinged markets.’’
Some signs in the report suggested that the spending cuts and weaker global growth are weighing on the job market. Manufacturers cut 8,000 jobs, and the federal government shed 14,000. Both were the third straight month of cuts for those industries.
The number of temporary jobs rose about 26,000, the second straight month of strong gains. That suggests that employers are responding to more demand but aren’t confident enough to hire permanent workers. Many temporary employees work in manufacturing, which cut permanent jobs.
But industries that rely directly on consumer spending hired at a healthy pace — a sign of confidence that consumers will keep spending. Retailers added 28,000 jobs. Restaurants and hotels added 33,000.
Average hourly wages ticked up just a penny in May, to $23.89. That was because much of the job growth was in lower-paying industries.
But mild inflation is boosting American’s purchasing power. Over the past 12 months, hourly wages have risen 2 percent. Inflation has increased just 1.1 percent in that time.
The economy grew at a solid annual rate of 2.4 percent in the first three months of the year. Consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in more than two years. But economists worry that the steep government spending cuts and higher Social Security taxes might be slowing growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate of 2 percent or less.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Last Update on May 22, 2015 17:17 GMT
UNDATED (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she expects the Fed to begin raising interest rates later this year -- if the job market improves and it is confident that inflation will rise closer toward its target rate.
But she cautions that the economy is still facing a number of headwinds that could stall growth.
In a speech in Rhode Island, Yellen highlighted problems such as disappointing wage growth and a significant number of people working part time who would like full time jobs. She also mentioned a weak housing recovery and global economic weakness.
But Yellen says because the Fed's interest rate moves take time to filter through the economy, she believes further improvements in the economy will likely make it prudent to start raising rates later this year.
HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton says Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential hopefuls are threatening tens of thousands of small-business jobs by seeking to cut a little-known government agency that guarantees loans to help U.S. exporters.
The Democratic presidential contender said during a round-table discussion at Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire that Congress should renew financing for the Export-Import Bank. She argues the GOP is risking up to 164,000 jobs supported by the bank.
She says Republicans running in the 2016 campaign would rather threaten the jobs than "stand up to the tea party and talk radio."
Conservatives have sought to eliminate the Export-Import Bank, arguing it gives the government too big a role in helping some large American companies sell products overseas at the expense of others.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices were up slightly in April, but overall gains were held back by another decline in energy costs that offset the biggest one-month jump in medical care in eight years.
The Labor Department says consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent last month compared to March, when prices rose a modest 0.2 percent. It was the smallest monthly gain since prices fell 0.7 percent in January.
Energy costs were down 1.3 percent and food prices were unchanged, keeping inflation low.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, increased 0.3 percent. It was the biggest gain in 15 months. Core inflation was driven higher by a 0.7 percent rise in medical care, reflecting a surge in hospital costs.
Inflation pressures have generally been well contained since the recession.
OIL PLATFORM FIRE
Coast Guard: Fire on Gulf oil platform; 28 workers evacuated
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Twenty-eight workers have been evacuated from an oil production platform that is on fire off Louisiana's coast.
A Coast Guard news release says the fire was reported at 2:50 a.m. Friday near Breton Island, which is close to Louisiana's southeastern coast. Production was shut down, and no injuries have been reported.
The Coast Guard reported a light sheen of oil could be seen from the air along a more than one-mile stretch of water. Also, about 4,000 barrels of crude oil is stored on the platform. Authorities are working to put out the fire and keep that oil from getting into the water.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
CALIFORNIA OIL SPILL
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal regulators have ordered the company whose pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil across a California coastline to take a series of steps before it can restart the line.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced a so-called corrective action against Plains All American Pipeline on Friday.
The order requires the company to remove the damaged section of pipe, test it and empty the remainder of the line.
The agency says it still does not know the cause of the leak, which spilled up to 105,000 gallons of crude into a coastal ditch Tuesday. Thousands of gallons flowed into the sea northwest of Santa Barbara.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court says America's largest tobacco companies must inform consumers that cigarettes were formulated to increase addiction, but not that they lied about the dangers of smoking.
The ruling Friday from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is a partial win for cigarette makers that objected to running court-ordered advertisements that would have the companies brand themselves as liars.
The ads would have begun with a statement that the companies "deliberately deceived the American public." The ads stem from a 2006 court ruling ordering the companies to admit they had lied for decades about the dangers of smoking.
The companies called that statement overbroad and misleading.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart, the nation's largest food retailer, is urging its thousands of U.S. suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals and improve treatment of them.
That means asking meat producers, eggs suppliers and others to use antibiotics only for disease prevention or treatment, not to fatten their animals, a common industry practice. The guidelines also aim to get suppliers to stop using sow gestation crates and other housing that lacks sufficient space.
They're also being asked to avoid painful procedures like de-horning or castration without proper pain management.
Wal-Mart wants suppliers to provide it with an annual report and publicly report their progress on their own websites.
Wal-Mart is facing pressure from shoppers who want to know more about how their food is produced.
MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Solid sales of its construction equipment offset a global agricultural slowdown for Deere, the company said Friday. It also raised its outlook for the year.
The Moline, Illinois, company said its second-quarter earnings fell 30 percent to $690.5 million, compared with $981 million last year, but it was still better than Wall Street had expected.
Deere said sales of farming equipment fell 25 percent from a year ago to $5.77 billion in the second quarter, while sales of construction and forestry equipment rose 2 percent to $1.63 billion. Deere's financing unit, which gives loans to customers to buy equipment, also improved, with revenue rising 14 percent to $653 million.
Profit for 2015 is now expected to be around $1.9 billion, the company said, up slightly from the $1.8 billion it had projected earlier this year.
FRISCH'S BIG BOY-SALE
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Frisch's Big Boy restaurants are being sold to a private equity fund, ending family ownership of the Cincinnati-based chain that dates to its first drive-thru in 1939.
Frisch's Restaurants Inc. says NRD Partners I will buy all outstanding shares for $34 each, or some $175 million. Frisch's shares closed Thursday at $28.12.
The regional chain with the iconic Big Boy mascot owns some 95 family restaurants in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Its website states it has another 26 operated in the region by licensees.
CEO Craig Maier and marketing Vice President Karen Maier will retire, but continue as franchisees.
The deal is expected to close by the end of September.
Frisch's last month reported $47 million in revenue for its fiscal third quarter, with 45 cents earnings per share.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Expedia is selling its majority stake in eLong, a Chinese travel service, to a group of businesses based in China for roughly $671 million.
The news sent shares of the online travel company up more than 5 percent in early trading Friday.
Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia said before the U.S. markets opened that it had sold its 62.4 percent share in eLong to a group that includes Ctrip.com International Ltd., Keystone Lodgings Holdings Ltd., Plateno Group Ltd. and Luxuriant Holdings Ltd.
ELong had reportedly been a drag on Expedia's earnings. The company said the transaction closed Friday.
Expedia's stock was up $5.62 to $111.45 early Friday, after rising as high as $115 earlier in the session.
VANGUARD NATURAL RESOURCES-EAGLE ROCK
HOUSTON (AP) -- Vanguard Natural Resources LLC will acquire Eagle Rock Energy Partners LP in a $474 million deal.
The agreement was announced Thursday by the Houston-based companies.
Vanguard Natural Resources will also assume $140 million of debt from Eagle Rock Energy Partners, which will become a wholly owned indirect subsidiary.
The agreement requires approval of the boards of both companies.
Vanguard Natural Resources deals in acquisition, production and development of oil and natural gas properties. The company has operations in Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Dakota.
Eagle Rock Energy Partners is also involved with oil and natural gas properties.
RIGA, Latvia (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) says after talks with her Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras (TSEE'-prahs) that there is still "a whole lot left to be done" to avoid a financial meltdown in Athens.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND') spoke for some two hours with Tsipras at the Eastern Partnership summit and the German leader said Friday that "very, very intensive work is still needed."
The three met to pave the way for a special eurozone meeting of finance ministers late this month or early June.
The meeting came a day after a leading official from Tsipras' party said that Greece will not be able to repay a loan to the International Monetary Fund early next month unless a deal is reached with its creditors to unblock bailout funds.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- European Central Bank head Mario Draghi (DRAHG'-ee) says governments that share the euro currency shouldn't wait for better times to push through reforms that would boost sluggish growth.
Draghi said tough measures to clear away bureaucracy and make hiring and firing more flexible are needed quickly to energize the economy.
He rejected arguments that looser hiring and firing rules only work over the long term and could hurt the hesitant recovery that is taking hold. He said that "the sooner they take place, the better."
Draghi spoke Friday at an ECB conference in Sintra, Portugal, where economists are discussing ways to lower unemployment. The jobless rate is 11.3 percent for the 19 European Union member countries that use the euro, and 50 percent for young people in Spain and Greece.
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