Business Highlights

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm •  Published: April 1, 2014
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Congress demands answers on delay in GM recall

WASHINGTON (AP) — The piece needed to fix a defective ignition switch linked to 13 deaths would have cost just 57 cents, according to documents submitted by General Motors to lawmakers investigating why the company took 10 years to recall cars with the flaw.

Members of a House subcommittee demanded answers Tuesday from new GM CEO Mary Barra about why the automaker used the switch in some of its cars even though it knew the part didn't meet GM's own specifications.

GM has said that company engineers proposed solutions to the switch problem years ago, but the company concluded that none represented "an acceptable business case."

The automaker has recalled 2.6 million cars since February over the faulty switch.

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US auto sales accelerated as March moved along

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales went out like a lion in March.

Automakers said Tuesday that new car and truck sales picked up speed halfway through the month, culminating in a strong final weekend.

March sales helped rescue what was otherwise a disappointing first quarter. Analysts had predicted flat growth for the first three months of this year after harsh weather in January and February hurt sales.

The surprisingly strong March results could help the first quarter pull off a sales increase, but it's not likely to top the 6-percent increase that the industry saw during the same period in 2013.

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Sen. Paul: Give Caterpillar award for tax strategy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Caterpillar Inc. executives defended a tax strategy Tuesday that has saved the manufacturing giant billions in U.S. taxes. They got support from Republican senators, including one who said the company deserves an award.

Caterpillar has avoided paying $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes since 2000 by shifting profits to a wholly-controlled affiliate in Switzerland, according to a report released by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. Levin chairs the Senate investigations subcommittee. Levin grilled Caterpillar executives and their accountants at a hearing Tuesday on the company's tax strategy.

Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

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Craft beer reaches for the skies on US airlines

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attention passengers, craft beer has reached 35,000 feet.

As the airline industry works to improve its food and beverage options, a new trend has emerged — airlines adding craft beers to their in-flight offerings. The assumption is that as more drinkers switch from mass market beers to specialty brews, they'll be happier if they don't have to give up the good stuff when they're in the air.

It's another sign that airlines are getting better at responding to changing consumer tastes. U.S. craft beer retail sales reached $14.3 billion in 2013, an increase of 20 percent from a year earlier, according to the Brewers Association, the trade group for the majority of U.S. brewing companies.

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Eurozone unemployment stuck near record high

BRUSSELS (AP) — The 18-country eurozone may have emerged from recession last year, but that has done little good to the jobs market, with unemployment stuck near a record high since then.

A new report on Tuesday showed that while the number of jobless in the currency union dipped in February, the unemployment rate remained at 11.9 percent — where it has been since October after peaking at 12.1 percent earlier in the year.

The figures, published by the Eurostat statistical agency, illustrate how long it will take for the continent's hardest-hit countries to return to economic health after years of financial upheaval.

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US manufacturing expanded more quickly in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew at a slightly faster pace in March compared with February as factory output recovered from disruptions caused by severe winter weather. Manufacturers also received more orders, suggesting that production could strengthen a bit in the months ahead.

The Institute for Supply Management, a group of purchasing managers, said Tuesday that its manufacturing index increased to 53.7 from 53.2 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

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