Job openings outpace jobless by 1M

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers posted nearly 7.6 million open jobs in January, near a record high set in November, evidence that businesses are still hungry for workers despite signs the economy has slowed.

The Labor Department said Friday that hiring also rose and the number of people quitting their jobs picked up. Quits are a sign of a healthy economy, because people typically leave a job for another, usually higher-paying, one.

The tally of available jobs now outnumbers the unemployed by roughly 1 million. Openings began to outpace the unemployed last spring, for the first time in the 18 years the data has been tracked.

"The question now is, will workers be increasingly tempted to switch to new jobs or will their current employers raise wages to keep them?" said Nick Bunker, an economist at job listings website Indeed.

The strong job market is already pushing up wages more quickly, with hourly wages rising in February at the fastest pace in nine years.

The report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, also showed that layoffs declined, a reassuring sign that employers weren't spooked by the government shutdown, which ended Jan. 25, or the sharp drop in the stock market in December.

VW, ex-CEO misled investors, SEC says

WASHINGTON — U.S. regulators charged Volkswagen and former CEO Martin Winterkorn with defrauding investors during its massive diesel emissions scandal.

The charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission come two years after the German automaker settled with the U.S. over criminal and civil charges, as the company tries to distance itself from one if its darkest eras.

The SEC said that between April 2014 and May 2015, Volkswagen issued more than $13 billion in bonds and asset-backed securities in U.S. markets when senior executives knew that more than 500,000 vehicles in the country grossly exceeded legal vehicle emissions limits.

Volkswagen made false and misleading statements to investors and underwriters about vehicle quality, environmental compliance, and the company's financial standing, which gave Volkswagen a financial benefit when it issued securities at more attractive rates for the company, according to the SEC.

In September 2015 Volkswagen installed software on more than 475,000 cars that enabled them to cheat on emissions tests, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The software reduced nitrogen oxide emissions when the cars were placed on a test machine but allowed higher emissions and improved engine performance during normal driving.

In 2016 the Justice Department sued Volkswagen over the emissions-cheating software and the Federal Trade Commission sued the company, saying it made false claims in commercials promoting its "Clean Diesel" vehicles as environmentally friendly.

Winterkorn resigned saying he took responsibility for the fraud, but insisted he personally did nothing wrong.

Factory output posts slight increase

WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production rose a slight 0.1 percent in February, as an increase in utilities and mining offset the second straight monthly drop in manufacturing.

The Federal Reserve says that the manufacturing component of the index fell 0.4 percent last month, after having fallen 0.5 percent in January. Factory production has slipped 1 percent during the past 12 months.

Motor vehicles and parts suffered a 0.1 percent slip in output. Machinery fell 1.9 percent. Furniture products declined 1.5 percent. Non-metallic minerals and apparel also declined.

Utility output climbed 3.7 percent as more people used electricity. Mining rose 0.3 percent.

Overall industrial production has risen 3.5 percent from a year ago. But there may be a slowdown coming as capacity utilization has fallen to 78.2 percent from 78.8 percent in November.

$25B Hudson Yards project in NY opens

NEW YORK — New York's $25 billion Hudson Yards development is open to the public.

People lined up Friday to climb the 2,500 steps to the top of a massive sculpture named Vessel.

It's the visual centerpiece of a complex of high-rises on Manhattan's West Side with luxury commercial and residential space, including about 100 shops and restaurants.

CNN's Anderson Cooper hosted the inaugural ceremony. The cable news outlet will be a tenant at Hudson Yards along with its parent company, WarnerMedia.

Also at the opening was developer Stephen Ross, whose company, Related, partnered with Oxford Properties Group to build Hudson Yards.

Half of the 28-acre mini-city by the Hudson River is completed. The rest will be done by 2025.

Apple owes Qualcomm $31M, jury says 

SAN DIEGO — A jury has decided Apple should pay $31 million in damages for infringing on patents for technology owned by mobile chip maker Qualcomm that helps iPhones quickly connect to the internet and extend their battery life.

The verdict Friday in a San Diego federal court follows a two-week trial pitting two former allies that have become bitter adversaries. The trial is a fragment of a legal battle involving Apple and Qualcomm, who are sparing over who invented some of the technology used for key features in smartphones and other mobile devices.

The jury agreed with Qualcomm's contention that it should be paid $1.41 per iPhone relying on three of its patents.

Qualcomm hailed the verdict as a validation of its technology's importance to iPhones. Apple said it was disappointed with the decision.

Car sales in Europe keep falling

MILAN — European car sales have fallen for the sixth straight month, amid modest increases in three key markets.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said Friday that new car registrations in February totaled 1.114 million, down 1 percent from 1.125 million a year earlier.

The Brussels-based association says car sales showed a slight recovery in Germany, France and Britain. They fell by nearly 9 percent in Spain and by 2.4 percent in Italy.

Sales at Porsche plunged 44 percent and Audi slipped by 7 percent.

Volkswagen Group sales were down by 0.7 percent, though the mass-market VW brand showed a 3.5 percent increase.

French carmakers PSA Peugeot and Renault both bucked the trend with increased group sales, while Italian-American carmaker FCA Group posted a 5 percent decline.

American Air nixes Venezuela service

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines is stopping flights to Venezuela because of safety concerns after the pilots' union told its members to refuse to work the flights.

American was the last major U.S. carrier to fly to the troubled country. It flew daily to Caracas and Maracaibo from Miami.

The airline said Friday that it temporarily stopped the flights as it evaluated conditions in Venezuela, where civil unrest has increased amid opposition to President Nicolas Maduro.

"American will not operate to countries we don't consider safe," said spokesman Ross Feinstein.

The airline's decision followed a union president's order Thursday night that American Airlines pilots refuse Venezuela assignments.

Wire reports