Autos, planes drive up July orders at factories
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. companies rose in July, reflecting a surge in demand for autos and commercial aircraft. But in a troubling sign of manufacturing weakness, a key orders category that tracks business investment plans fell by the largest amount in eight months.
Factory orders rose 2.8 percent in July, the biggest overall advance in a year, reflecting sizable gains in demand for motor vehicles and airplanes, the Commerce Department said Friday. But core capital goods orders, viewed as a good proxy for investment spending, plunged 4 percent, the fourth setback in the last five months.
Ford’s on track to beat Toyota with top seller
RAYONG, Thailand — The stylish and nimble Ford Focus is on track to unseat Toyota’s aging Corolla to become the world’s top-selling car, according to Ford.
The company said it sold 489,616 Focus sedans and hatchbacks globally in the first half of 2012, besting the Corolla by almost 27,000.
The Focus has several advantages, said Aaron Bragman, an automotive industry analyst for IHS Global Insight. It is newer; features better handling and styling; and has superior technology and a nicer interior.
What’s for breakfast? Mountain Dew drinks
NEW YORK — Rise and shine. It’s time for breakfast soda. Taco Bell said Friday that it’s adding Mtn Dew A.M — a mix of Mountain Dew soda and Tropicana orange juice — to its breakfast menu, which was rolled out earlier this year at select locations.
Separately, the industry tracker Beverage Digest said that PepsiCo Inc. next year plans to introduce a drink made with juice, Mountain Dew Kickstart.
Diet Pepsi’s formula to get sweeter additive
NEW YORK — Diet Pepsi is tweaking its formula to stay sweet a little longer.
PepsiCo Inc. is testing new artificial sweeteners that let the soda keep its taste for a longer period of time. The problem is that the current sweetener used in the soda — aspartame — loses its potency faster than high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener that’s used in most regular sodas.
Eurozone’s jobless rate stuck at all-time high
BRUSSELS — The unemployment rate across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at a record high of 11.3 percent in July, official figures showed Friday, underscoring the huge task leaders face to restore confidence in the continent’s economy.
The European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, said 88,000 more people were without a job in July — for a total of 18 million — as governments and companies continued to trim payrolls to deal with problems of high debt and weak consumer spending. The 11.3 percent unemployment rate is the highest level since the euro was formed in 1999.
Southern Co. expects to exceed nuke budget
ATLANTA — Southern Co. said Friday that it expects to exceed its $6.1 billion construction budget by $87 million as it builds a first-of-its-kind nuclear plant in eastern Georgia.
The utility did not ask for an increase in its construction spending, which is now estimated to rise to roughly $6.2 billion.
Vogtle is the first nuclear plant approved for construction in a generation. It’s being closely watched by a power industry that struggled years ago to build nuclear plants without badly blowing budgets.
Port of Charleston will be closed on Labor Day
The State Ports Authority and all Port of Charleston gate operations will be closed Monday in observance of Labor Day.
Regular business operations will resume Tuesday.
Staff and wire reports