National business briefs for Oct. 8

National business briefs for Oct. 8
By The Associated Press Published: October 8, 2013
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Business briefs

Lockheed to furlough about 2,400 workers

— Lockheed Martin said Monday that it is furloughing about 2,400 workers due to the government shutdown — 20 percent less than the defense contractor had initially planned. Friday Lockheed Martin announced it was going to furlough 3,000 employees because of the government shutdown. The company based in Bethesda, Md., said Monday that it adjusted its initial figure because the Department of Defense recalled most of its civilian employees to work.

Madoff minions to be tried

— The longtime secretary of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff and four other back-office subordinates of the Ponzi king are going to trial Tuesday as the government for the first time shows a jury what it has collected in its five-year inquiry of one of history's biggest frauds. The trial in federal court in Manhattan is expected to last up to five months and feature the unveiling of the government's prize witness — Frank DiPascali, Madoff's former finance chief. The government is counting on him to explain to jurors the roles each defendant played in a fraud prosecutors say stretched back into the early 1970s and consumed nearly $20 billion invested by thousands of victims, including retirees, charities, school trusts and even Holocaust survivors. Much of it has been recovered by a court-appointed trustee.

Credit card use decreases

— Americans cut back on using their credit cards in August for a third-straight month, a sign that consumers remain cautious about spending. Consumers increased their borrowing $13.6 billion in August to a seasonally adjusted $3.04 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That's a record and followed July's gain of $10.4 billion.

Once again, the increase in borrowing was driven entirely by auto and student loans. A measure of those loans rose $14.5 billion to $2.19 trillion. But credit card debt dropped $883 million to roughly $850 billion. The decline could hold back consumer spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic growth. The report highlighted trends that have surfaced in the post-recession economy.

Energy firms pick port

— The companies seeking to advance a multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline project in Alaska have selected a port town where gas would be liquefied and shipped to Asia. Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada on Monday say the Kenai Peninsula town of Nikiski is the leading contender for the terminal. The announcement was seen as a significant step in the decades-old dream of building a natural gas pipeline to rival that of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. But the companies haven't yet committed to building the pipeline, which could cost $65 billion or more. The pipeline at one time was meant to provide Alaska's natural gas to the Lower 48. But with a glut of natural gas in the U.S., Alaska's governor urged the companies to get behind a project capable of exporting to Asia.