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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

May 22, 2014, 1:20 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are holding on to modest gains in afternoon trading on Wall Street, building on yesterday's rebound. Investors are encouraged by reports on Chinese manufacturing, U.S. home sales and some positive earnings from Best Buy, Dollar Tree and other retailers.
  • The U.S. airline industry is slowly adding jobs, although not all carriers are growing. The Transportation Department says passenger airlines employed the equivalent of nearly 384,000 full-time workers in March, up nearly 1 percent from a year earlier. The government counts two part-time employees as one full-time worker. Delta added the most jobs, followed by US Airways, American and JetBlue. Two smaller carriers, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, grew fastest in percentage terms, posting double-digit gains. United had the most workers, but the number was down 2.1 percent.
  • A new report says the government failed to properly test the lithium-ion batteries on the Boeing 787 and relied too much on the company for technical expertise. The report from the National Transportation Safety Board conflicts with the FAA's internal study of the issue, which said the agency's processes were effective in identifying and correcting issues with the aircraft. The 787 relies on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to power key systems. Two incidents involving the batteries last year led to a worldwide grounding of the 787 fleet.
  • Toyota is recalling 430,000 vehicles for three separate safety problems. It's recalling 370,000 Sienna minivans in cold weather states because road salt can corrode the spare tire carrier under the vehicle and the tire can fall off. Toyota is also recalling 50,000 Highlander and Highlander hybrid SUVs because the car may not properly calculate the size of the front passenger when determining whether to fire the air bag. And it's recalling 10,500 Lexus GS 350 sedans because the brakes could activate without warning.
  • The price of gasoline should look familiar to many drivers this Memorial Day. For the third year in a row, the national average will be within a penny or two of $3.64 per gallon.  But the national average masks big price changes in some regions. Drivers in the middle of the country are paying far less than they were last year, while drivers on the coasts are paying more. Analysts expect the national average price to slide lower through the beginning of the summer.

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