General Motors to Announce Hiring Blitz

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- General Motors is launching a hiring blitz and updating plants in eight states. Jobs will include up to 2,000 new hires at the Chevy Volt Plant in Detroit-Hamtramck, and hiring could start in late summer and extend at least through 2012.

The automaker is expected to announce plans to create or retain more than 4,000 jobs at 17 facilities over the next two years.

The announcement will be made Tuesday at the Toledo, Ohio transmission plant, where GM will unveil plans for an eight-speed fuel-efficient automatic transmission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HidroAysen Patagonia Dam Project Awaits Government Approval

Stockbyte/Getty Images(SANTIAGO) -- The HidroAysen dam project in Patagonia is awaiting government signoff.

The $3 billion project involves dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers in Patagonia. Thousands of acres of forest would be flooded with the construction of the hydroelectric dams, which would generate enough power for a third of Chile's population.

The flooded area is largely uninhabited, and would require the displacement of a miniscule number of people relative to China's controversial Three Gorges Dam, officials say.

The Chilean government is expected to approve the project.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Sears Considering New Headquarters Options

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.) -- Sears Holding Corp. may move its headquarters from Illinois, a company spokesman announced Monday.

Sears is currently operated from a complex called Prairie Stone in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Some 6,200 employees report to the center. The company is now considering options for when its state and local tax incentives expire next year.

The company has still not made a decision. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn reportedly intends to meet with company leaders to negotiate options.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Commodity Prices Advance US Stocks Monday

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks rose Monday as commodity prices improved from last week's dip.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 64 points higher at 12703. The Nasdaq Composite also rose 0.6 percent, ending at 2845. Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 0.5 percent, ending at 1347.

McDonald's advanced 1.2 percent, extending the company's upward trend in April.

Anxiety over Greece's debt crisis is still intense after Standard & Poor lowered the country's credit rating two levels to a double-B-minus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDIC Chairman Bair to Step Down July 8

FDIC(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced Monday that Charmain Sheila Bair will step down from her post on July 8.

Bair's term officially ends on June 30, but she will stay on an extra week to vote on "living wills" in a board meeting. Living wills would require financial firms with upwards of $50 billion to report their debts, cash flows, and funding.

President Obama will need to appoint a new chairman of the FDIC, along with a new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bair has said that she plans to pen a book and make up for lost time with her family.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Regulators Investigating Ford Pickup Trucks for Recall

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- More than two million Ford pickup trucks could be recalled due to a fuel tank problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday that steel belts around the fuel tank in the F-150 models from 1997 to 2001 can fracture from rusting. The group started conducting an investigation after complaints came in of the tanks dragging on the road and leaking fuel.

So far there have been two cases of F-150s exploding. There were no reported injuries in either incident.

There are an estimated 2.7 million Ford F-150 pickup trucks that could be affected by the recall.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Government Announces $2B for High-Speed Rail Projects

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- High speed rail projects in 15 states are being awarded more than $2 billion in grants from the federal government.

Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said Monday that the funding will help create “thousands of quality, middle class manufacturing construction jobs right away.”

"These are tremendous transportation projects and investments that America cannot do without," LaHood said, noting that not only will the projects help create jobs, but also relieve congestion in some of the country's most trafficked areas. The biggest chunk of the money -- nearly $800 million -- will go to improve rail service in the crowded northeast corridor.

"We simply cannot build enough highways and airports to accommodate this growth," LaHood said. "If we settle for the status quo, our children and grandchildren will fight paralyzing congestion, remain dependent on foreign oil, and suffer from an economy stuck in neutral."

LaHood said there were $10 billion in requests for the $2 billion of available money.

"Once built, it will spur economic development along its corridors, and over the long run it will restore America's economic competitiveness by complementing our highways and airways with world class railways."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sony PlayStation Network Further Delayed

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures(TOKYO) -- PlayStation network users will have to wait a little longer. Sony is holding off on restoring the service so that it can conduct additional testing to make sure that personal data is safe.

Last month, Sony admitted that the PlayStation network had been hacked, and the accounts of more 100 million customers compromised.

No word on how much longer the network would be down.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Home Prices Fall 3 Percent in First Quarter; Lowest Point Since 2008

Creatas/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- In yet another blow to the housing market, home values fell three percent in the first three months of this year -- more than many economists had expected.

The latest drop, reported by Monday, marks the biggest plunge in prices since 2008.  The real estate website also noted that home prices have fallen for 57 months in a row.

Paul Dales, a senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics, told ABC News Radio that first time home buyers are pretty much the only ones who are benefitting from the price dip.

"The one big positive in all this is that housing does pretty much look like the bargain of a lifetime based on some metrics.  It is incredibly undervalued when you compare the price of housing to disposable incomes, and mortgage rates are pretty much at a record low," Dales said.

And he doesn't expect things to change any time soon.

"I expect that we'll see a prolonged period of very rough stabilization in the market.  I don't think we'll see huge recovery in the housing market, perhaps for something like three to four years, maybe even longer," Dales said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apple Bumps Google as Most Valuable Global Brand

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thanks to the iPhone and iPad, Apple bumped Google in this year's list of Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, the first time that Apple has held first place.

Google has been the number-one brand for the last four years in a row.

"I would say the big story to me is the tale of the tablet.  If you see just how much Apple's brand value has gone up, the iPad is large part of that," said Eileen Campbell, CEO of Millward Brown, the global research agency that published the list.

Last month, Apple announced a 95 percent increase in profit, with second quarter earnings of $5.99 billion.  The company announced it sold 18.65 million iPhones that quarter, up 113 percent from the period one year ago.  Sales of the iPad were lower than expected, however, at 4.69 million units during the quarter.

Campbell said AT&T's significant jump, to number seven from number 22 last year, was also expedited by its relationship with Apple.

Whether or not Verizon's partnership with Apple will affect that carrier's standing is yet to be seen.  The current list was compiled for the 2010 fiscal year.  Verizon, which jumped to number 13 from number 20, first announced in February that it would carry Apple's iPhone.

On another note, Facebook appeared for the first time in the Top 100 list, at number 35.  The social network company had the highest percentage brand growth this year of all the companies surveyed.

Campbell said what contributed to Facebook's boost was Goldman Sach's $50 billion valuation of Facebook, which is privately held, in January.

This is the sixth annual list compiled by Millward Brown, which compiles the list from a database of more than two million consumer interviews in 30 countries, along with publicly available financial data.

Here are the 2011 Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands, according to Millward Brown:

1. Apple
2. Google
3. IBM
4. McDonald's
5. Microsoft
6. Coca-Cola Company
7. AT&T
8. Marlboro
9. China Mobile
10. GE 

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