U.S. stock investors may be bracing for further signs next week that the Federal Reserve could increase interest rates sooner rather than later, with retail sales expected to rebound after two straight months of declines. A pickup in retail sales could show consumers are benefiting from sharply lower oil prices, but analysts say spending in February was likely curbed by unusually harsh weather in parts of the United States. Among them, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker repeated his view that the Fed should raise rates in June.
Apple Inc , the largest U.S. company by market value, will join the Dow Jones industrial average , replacing AT&T Inc , in a change that reflects the dominant position of the iPhone maker in the U.S. consumer economy. The decision to nudge aside AT&T, which has been part of the Dow for the better part of a century, is a recognition of how communications and technology have evolved. The action, by S&P Dow Jones Indices, had been widely expected since Apple split its shares seven-for-one in June of last year. The stock was added to the Dow in 1916, the year after the first-ever transcontinental telephone call.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 702,578 SUVs and minivans to fix defective ignition switches that can unexpectedly turn off the engine, according to documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators. If there is a key fob, it should also be removed, Fiat Chrysler said in documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The company said road conditions or a jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move into the off or accessory position, turning off the engine and disabling the air bags, power steering and power brakes. Fiat Chrysler said it expects to begin replacing the defective ignition switches for the 2008-2009 minivans and SUVs in April and the 2010 vehicles in August.
U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February and the jobless rate fell to its lowest level since the spring before President Barack Obama took office, which could put pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in June. Nonfarm payrolls increased 295,000 last month after rising 239,000 in January, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 percent, the lowest since May 2008, slipping into territory that some Fed officials consider consistent with full employment. "The labor market is on a roll.