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Update on the latest business


Stocks climb

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are solidly higher on Wall Street following a strong jobs report for October, putting the S&P 500 on track for its fourth straight weekly gain.

Banks, technology and industrial companies led the way higher at midday. Safe-play sectors like utilities lagged as investors stepped up their appetite for risk.

Fitbit soared 15.5% after agreeing to be acquired by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Fortinet jumped 11% after the network security company reported results that easily beat analysts’ forecasts.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.72%.


US employers added solid 128,000 jobs in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a solid 128,000 jobs in October, a figure that was held down by a now-settled strike against General Motors that caused several thousand workers to be temporarily counted as unemployed.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5% to 3.6%, still near a five-decade low. For the second straight month, average hourly wages rose 3% from a year ago.

The GM strike contributed to the loss of 41,600 auto factory jobs in October. But the settlement will likely lead to a rebound in the coming months. The report revised upward job gains in the prior two months by a combined 95,000, suggesting a healthier job market than initially believed.

Still, hiring has slowed this year. Gains averaged just 167,000 in the past 10 months, down from a monthly average of 223,000 in 2018, according to Labor Department figures.


US manufacturing contracts for third straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing output dropped for the third straight month in October as trade tensions and a slowing global economy took a toll on American factories.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Friday that its manufacturing index blipped up to 48.3 last month from 47.8 in September. But anything below 50 signals a contraction and manufacturing has been on a three-month losing streak.

New orders, production and hiring all contracted. But export orders increased in October after falling in September.

Twelve of 18 manufacturing industries contracted in October, led by primary metals, clothing and textile mills.

Despite the manufacturing slump, the U.S. economy continues to grow, supported by a relatively healthy services sector and healthy consumer spending.


US construction spending rises 0.5% in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending rose 0.5% in September, boosted by government and private residential projects.

The Commerce Department said Friday that government construction rose 1.5% last month, powered by state and local building.

The September increase comes as the previous August gain of 0.1% was revised down to -0.3%.

Private residential construction increased 0.6%, with single family home construction up 1.3% but apartment building or multi-family home projects falling 0.7%.

Overall construction after adjusting for seasonal variations came in at an annual rate of $1.29 trillion, 2 percent lower than September 2018.

During the first nine months of 2019, U.S. construction spending was $968.7 billion, a drop of 2.2% from the first nine months of 2018.


Trade body: China can hit US with sanctions worth $3.6 bln

GENEVA (AP) — The World Trade Organization says China can impose sanctions on up to $3.6 billion worth of U.S. goods over the U.S. government’s failure to abide by anti-dumping rules with regard to Chinese products.

The award is the latest development in a wide-ranging trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. It has centered on Trump administration tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, and retaliatory measures by Beijing.

Friday’s announcement from a WTO arbitrator centers on a case with origins long before that trade standoff: a Chinese complaint filed nearly six years ago seeking over $7 billion in retaliation.

Parts of a WTO ruling in May 2017 went in favor of China in its case against some 40 U.S. anti-dumping rulings against Chinese goods.


Exxon profit plummets with oil prices down

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Exxon Mobil’s profits fell dramatically in the third quarter as the company was hurt by lower prices for crude oil and natural gas.

The Texas oil giant reported $3.17 billion in profits in the third quarter Friday, down 49% from the same time last year. Total revenue was $65.05 billion, down 15% from the same time last year.

Oil prices have suffered due to a prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China, which has raised concerns about a global economic slowdown.

Despite falling prices, Exxon’s oil production rose 3% to 3.9 million barrels per day, driven primarily by growth in the Permian Basin.

Exxon had five significant deep-water discoveries in Guyana and Cyprus during the quarter.


Google parent Alphabet buying Fitbit for about $2.1B

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fitbit is being acquired by Google’s parent company for about $2.1 billion.

With the deal announced Friday, Alphabet wades into a very crowded field. Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable fitness technology, but it’s been under pressure from other device makers.

Speculation swirled at the beginning of the week that a deal might be imminent. Premarket trading of shares of San Francisco-based Fitbit Inc. were briefly halted before the acquisition was announced.

Alphabet said it will pay $7.35 per share for the company.

The deal is expected to close next year if approved by regulators and Fitbit shareholders.

Shares of Fitbit and Alphabet both rose slightly before the opening bell.


Retailers seek to stretch shortened holiday shopping season

NEW YORK (AP) — All they want for Christmas is more time.

Faced with the shortest holiday shopping season since 2013, retailers are trying to figure out ways to get into the minds of shoppers sooner.

Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. In 1939, at the tail-end of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November as a way to goose the economy and create more shopping days before Christmas, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. But people continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday and in 1941, it was officially changed back.

This year, Thanksgiving will land on Nov. 28, the latest possible date it can be. That leaves the holiday shopping season with six fewer days than last year.

Associated Press


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