December 23, 2011 |
Just a few months ago, the economy seemed to be skidding toward another recession. Now, a continued drop in jobless claims, a rise in consumer confidence and other signs of a growing recovery are cheering economists as the year draws to a close. "The economy has clearly re-accelerated at year's end," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "It kind of stalled out midyear through the debt ceiling debacle and right up until September. "But in the last three months, it's really started to pick up and that's encouraging.
November 24, 2011 |
As chief executive of Hyundai Motor America, John Krafcik oversees the sales and marketing arm of one of the fastest-growing auto brands in America. Led by torrid sales of its Elantra compact sedan, Hyundai has sold almost 550,000 vehicles this year, more than it moved in all of 2011 and a sales record for the South Korean automaker. Sales have risen almost 21% through the first 10 months of this year, double the rate of the entire U.S. auto sales market. Krafcik talked with The Times about that rapid growth, the challenges of managing a tight turnover and his plans for Hyundai, which also sells the upscale Genesis and Equus brands.
November 23, 2011 |
The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than originally estimated in the third quarter, mainly because companies reduced inventories and did not invest as much. The Commerce Department cut its calculation of gross domestic product to 2% growth in the July-to-September period from an initial reading of 2.5%. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected the government to trim its estimate to 2.3%. Still, the 2% growth rate was the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2010. Most economists predict that the U.S. economy will grow even faster in the final three months of this year — 2.5% based on the latest MarketWatch forecast.
November 22, 2011 |
More people closed deals on home purchases in October than economists expected, driving down the number of homes available for sale to an eight-month supply. Existing-home sales rose 1.4% from the previous month and were 13.5% above the same month a year earlier. Each month, the National Assn. of Realtors reports the figures in the form of an annual sales pace adjusted for seasonal variations. Last month's pace was 4.97 million, the group reported. Regionally, sales were up 4.4% in the West over the previous month, up 2.1% in the South, up 2.8% in the Midwest and down 5.1% in the Northeast.
September 28, 2011 |
Call it a sliver of a silver lining for America's beaten-down housing market: The inventory of troubled U.S. homes not yet listed for sale is diminishing. Homes in foreclosure or headed into foreclosure are being sold at a fast-enough clip to chip away at the so-called shadow inventory that hangs over the U.S. market, Santa Ana data provider CoreLogic reported Tuesday. Shadow inventory at the end of July was down to 1.6 million units, representing a five-month supply of homes. That means there are 1.6 million homes in the pipeline not listed for sale.
September 2, 2011 |
After being buffeted by wild stock market gyrations, unsettling economic news and Hurricane Irene, automakers are looking for some relief this Labor Day weekend — and that could mean good deals for consumers. The industry believes sales will quicken in September, bolstered by growing inventories of cars that were in short supply for much of the summer, bigger discounts and an economy that looks less likely to fall back into recession. "Marketing and incentive focus has already shifted to September with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, so with improved inventory, the sales pace could show marked improvement," said Jeff Schuster, an analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.
August 16, 2011 |
The nation's busiest seaport, Los Angeles, is on pace to have a record year in exports. July exports were up 12.8%, to 165,135 containers from 146,369 in the same month a year ago. "This is a robust total for exports," said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield. In 2010, the port set a record for exports with more than 1.8 million containers; it is on pace to surpass that this year. But as usual, imports dominated the port in July, an indication of the nation's huge trade deficit.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 6, 2011 |
When John E. Fenton took over Metrolink in April of last year, the government-run railroad had fallen off the tracks. Several million dollars in inventory was unaccounted for. Ridership was declining and staff morale had plummeted. After a head-on crash with a freight train in Chatsworth killed 25 people in 2008, the line had the worst safety record in the nation for a commuter railroad. Today — 16 months after Fenton arrived — Metrolink has changed by a number of critical measures.
May 30, 2011 |
Kevin Reynolds is hoping for a long, hot summer. He's not chasing a tan. He's hoping to attract more customers to his beachside concession stand, Kevaccino's on the Beach, in Playa del Rey. "When it cools off to 60 and 65, it just kind of blows me out of the water," said Reynolds, who cooks and staffs the walk-up order window with the help of three employees. This will be the third summer Reynolds has run the concession, and it has been challenging. Although the business was in the black last year, he used most of the profit toward paying off start-up costs, including credit card bills.
May 22, 2011 |
Attention all car buyers: The era of cut-rate financing, generous cash-back offers and big discounts is coming to an end. With the effects of the earthquake in Japan rippling through the industry and causing shortages, prices are rising for both new and used cars, and fewer models and options will be available come summer, especially for the hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles that Japan produces. That's prompted many experts to voice something rarely said in the sales-happy auto industry: With consumers facing the toughest market in recent memory, if you can, put off purchases until things sort out, probably early next year.