Upbeat data fail to get Wall St. excited

NEW YORK — The stock market's rally is on hold and it's not clear what might get it moving again. Stock indicators barely budged this week after big gains last week. The Dow Jones industrial average did manage to push into the black for the year with a modest gain Friday but many traders are still cautious.

The continuing crop of better-than-expected economic news has lost its ability to incite the kinds of gains the market was enjoying back in March, early in a three-month rally that has brought the Standard & Poor's index almost 40 percent.

Those kinds of gains might normally take years to occur, so it's understandable that traders would become tired of hitting the "buy" button.

Also, the market's enthusiasm about the economy has been checked recently by unease about inflation and rising interest rates.

Automakers, dealers discuss painful cuts

WASHINGTON— Under withering criticism in Congress, General Motors and Chrysler executives on Friday called the closings of hundreds of dealerships painful steps needed to right-size the auto giants.

Down-on-their luck dealers said the moves would needlessly devastate their local economies and livelihoods.

"Many dealers and the communities they serve frankly feel blind- sided," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

In South Carolina, 24 GM dealers are expected to lose their franchises, according to information GM provided to lawmakers Friday. The locations were not disclosed.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson told a House panel the dealer cuts were "painful" but necessary to save over 200,000 jobs at GM's remaining dealers. Chrysler Deputy CEO Jim Press said the cuts were part of the shared sacrifices needed to avoid liquidation.

Lawmakers also heard from shutout dealers such as Frank Blankenbecker of Waxahachie, Texas, whose voice cracked as he recalled the work of his father, a World War II veteran, to build their family business.

US Airways to furlough flight attendants

TEMPE, Ariz. — US Airways Group Inc. is asking 400 flight attendants to take up to 16 months off in response to overstaffing. The company is seeking 300 volunteers from its hubs in Phoenix and Las Vegas and 100 volunteers based on the East Coast.

A spokeswoman said Friday the airline has cut flights faster than flight attendants have left through normal attrition. Airline president Scott Kirby said Thursday that the company's current decline in passenger revenue is even worse than the decline that followed Sept. 11.

US Airways is Charleston's second-largest carrier as measured by boardings.

Cessna is laying off more of its payroll

WICHITA, Kan. — Cessna Aircraft Co., the nation's largest builder of corporate jets, said Friday it is laying off another 1,300 workers, raising the number of jobs eliminated to half of its work force since November as the recession has depressed demand for its planes.

Cessna said the cutbacks will affect all its facilities. "The fact is this is a cyclical industry and right now we are in the worst part of the cycle. Our industry continues to struggle," a spokesman said.