Employers Add 151,000 Jobs in October

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Employers increased payrolls by adding 151,000 jobs in October, significantly better than the 60,000 that economists were expecting. This marks the first month since May that the nation has seen an overall gain.

While the government sector laid off 8,000 workers, the private sector added 159,000 workers during October. Economists expected the private sector to add 60,000 jobs.

The nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 9.6 percent.

There have been a net of 7.6 million jobs lost since the start of the recession in Dec. 2007.

Striking an optimistic tone about the latest jobs report, President Obama said that Democrats and Republicans cannot spend the next two years “mired in gridlock” over how to get the economy moving forward.

“The most important competition we face in this new century will not be between Democrats and Republicans.  It’s the competition with countries around the world to lead the global economy,” the president said at the White House before departing for his trip to Asia.

Obama called the jobs report “encouraging news” but still “not good enough.”

“The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “This recession caused a great deal of hardship and it put millions of people out of work.  So in order to repair this damage, in order to create the jobs to meet the large need, we need to accelerate our economic growth so that we are producing jobs at a faster pace.”

The president said he was open to “any idea, any proposal, any way” to get the economy growing so people can find work.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Toyota Earnings Through the Roof, But Dark Clouds Loom

Courtesy - Toyota(NEW YORK) -- Despite 11 million recalls, mostly in its key U.S. market, and a soaring yen, Toyota's earnings for the quarter ending September 30th are up.  Toyota boasted earnings of 9,678 billion yen, or $1.2 billion. That's a 15 percent increase over last year. 

The company credits 90 billion yen in cost reductions and strong sales in Asia. 

Experts sound a note of caution over the near future as Toyota predicts a much smaller profit for the second half of the year.  The strength of the yen is presenting a big challenge.

The Financial Times quotes Toyota's Chief Financial Officer, Satoshi Ozawa, saying the carmaker might move more production outside Japan if profits in the six months to March declined further than expected.

Friday's comments may add pressure on the government over the yen’s climb toward a 15-year high against the dollar.   Ozawa says the carmaker is losing competitiveness.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


United Launches New Oprah Plane

Courtesy - United Airlines(CHICAGO) -- United Airlines Thursday unveiled a specially-painted plane honoring Oprah Winfrey and her final season.

The Boeing 757 aircraft is newly painted -- from nose to tail -- with imagery from The Oprah Winfrey Show farewell season. Onboard the aircraft, customers will notice a specially decorated interior and will be greeted by a special video welcome from Winfrey.

The airline, which recently merged with Continental, is based in Chicago, which is also the city Winfrey calls home and films her daily show.

During the inaugural flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Los Angeles Thursday, one passenger was given enough United Mileage Plus miles for a trip around the world. All the other passengers received a specially monogrammed "Oprah 25" fleece blanket.

"This unique plane represents the global reach of two great Chicago icons," Mark Bergsrud, senior vice president of marketing for United said in a statement. (Boeing also happens to be based in Chicago.)

In conjunction with the unveiling of The Oprah Winfrey Show Farewell Season Plane, United is launching the United Million Mile Giveaway -- a sweepstakes that will give one million United Mileage Plus miles to one lucky winner each month through May. Additional prizes include Oprah Store e-cards. The special plane will fly through May and then presumably be repainted with the new United logo.

To kick off her final season, Winfrey sent her entire studio audience to Australia on one of United's competitors, Qantas.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Slurpee Summit? 7-Eleven Seizes on Attention from President Barack Obama

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Could an icy, gas station staple be the magic elixir that brings the nation's divided politicians together?

In the run-up to the Midterm Elections, 7-Eleven's iconic Slurpee brand got an unexpected boost from President Barack Obama, who repeatedly mentioned it in stump speeches. In a metaphor for what he saw as Republicans' unwillingness to help him, Obama painted his political opponents as "drinking Slurpees" while Democrats were busy governing. Voters apparently didn't agree with the president, given the Republican resurgence in the polls on Election Day, but the company synonymous with the drink was quick to jump on the presidential attention.

Obama eventually dropped "Slurpees" for "lattes" as his punchline, but he brought up the icy drink again Wednesday after a reporter asked the president if he'd invite Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, over for a Slurpee.

"They're delicious drinks," Obama quipped. "The Slurpee summit," he added, picking up on another reporter's line.

It might have been a passing joke, but the folks at 7-Eleven tasted a real opportunity. The company has already offered to install Slurpee machines in the White House to cater a Slurpee Summit.

"We're such a part of pop culture," said Rita Bargerhuff, the VP and Chief Marketing Officer for 7-Eleven, Inc., reflecting on the presidential mention of the company's product. "We are part of the nomenclature for the American public."

The White House laughed off the idea of an actual Slurpee summit Thursday, but 7-Eleven representatives say they're pushing forward with the idea. They plan to drive Slurpee trucks from Dallas to Washington D.C., beginning Friday, giving free Slurpees to Americans along the way. Slurpee also plans to create a new flavor called Purple for the People. It tastes like berry, and it's the color you get, of course, when you mix red and blue. 7-Eleven officials insist that Slurpee is non-partisan.

An ad campaign featuring the purple drink has already been drawn up, though neither the president's image nor words will be used.

The company also offered to put Slurpee machines in Rep. John Boehner's office on Capitol Hill, but in an interview with ABC News Thursday, the presumptive Speaker of the House didn't seem so excited about the frozen drink.

"I don't know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?" Boehner said.

The White House frowns on the use of the president's image for commercial purposes, but plenty of companies have tried to capitalize on the Obama touch.

The clothing company Weatherproof used a photo of Obama wearing one of their jackets on a Times Square billboard. The image of the president, standing on the Great Wall of China, was used without Obama's authorization, and it was eventually removed at the request of the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama's penchant for brands like J. Crew and White House | Black Market has helped those companies sell out of certain styles, though neither company uses that informal endorsement to market their clothing.

So what exactly is a presidential endorsement worth in Slurpee sales?

"I think we're going to find out," said Chabris.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Food Prices on the Rise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Food sellers will be forced to pass on the rising cost of food to consumers after a year that saw the lowest food prices in nearly two decades, reports the Wall Street Journal.

As inflation sets in, supermarkets and restaurants have had to raise costs to make up for a sharp rise in the cost of staple products. 

Companies like McDonald's Corp., Kellogg Co., and Kroger Co. have signaled that consumers will begin to pay more for their products due to the higher price of ingredients.

Even Starbucks -- which announced in August it would stave off price increases -- said it plans to boost the cost of hard-to-make drinks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


The Final Months of MySpace?

Photo Courtesy - Myspace dot com(NEW YORK) -- Before there was the giant of Facebook, there was MySpace. But now the world's pioneer social network site may have just months left to live, reports USA Today.

Company officials have been told by News Corp., the owner of MySpace, that the site has to make a financial rebound quickly if it hopes to stay afloat.

News Corp.'s financial report showed that the category dominated by MySpace posted a $156 million loss in the quarter that ended in September, although it did not report how much the site made.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Applications for Jobless Benefits Rise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits jumped significantly, for the second time in four weeks. The number stands at 457,000 initial unemployment claims for last week, which is a 20,000 increase from 437,000. 

The Wall Street Journal's Simon Constable tells ABC News that, "It just shows that there is a lot of turbulence out there and if you've got a job you've got to keep a hold of it and if you haven't got one, it's very hard to get a new one."  These numbers are evidence that companies are still hesitant to expand their staffing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Apple Sued over iPhone 3G 'Upgrade' Woes

Photo Courtesy - Apple(SAN DIEGO) -- For many iPhone owners, it was the software upgrade that wasn't.

When Apple released a new version of its iPhone operating system this summer, droves of iPhone 3G owners turned to the company's discussion forums to gripe about slow performance and functionality issues.

One iPhone owner went a step further last week, filing a lawsuit against Apple claiming the company deliberately released a software upgrade that would turn earlier models of the iPhone into "virtually useless iBricks."

In a class-action complaint filed with the San Diego Superior Court, Bianca Wofford alleges Apple engaged in "unsavory, dishonest and deceptive business practices" when it encouraged iPhone 3G and 3GS owners to install its updated mobile operating system, the iOS4.

Instead of boosting performance, she said the "downgrade" significantly diminished her phone's speed, functionality and reliability.

And she doesn't stop there. Wofford also claims that Apple pushed the new operating system on customers to "create a false incentive on the part of third generation iPhone consumers to purchase the iPhone 4."

"Plaintiff Wofford is informed and believes this whole situation was created to be a consumer catch-22 by Apple in order for the company to promote sales of its just released iPhone 4 and to cause consumers to simply abandon the earlier 3G and 3GS platforms. After all, what better way to underhandedly create incentive to purchase a newer product than by essentially rendering an earlier product useless by the false promise of a software 'upgrade,'" the complaint says.

Apple told that it does not comment on pending litigation. But a couple of weeks after performance complaints related to the iOS4 started surfacing online, Apple reportedly investigated the issue and later released a fix (iOS4.1) that many owners said addressed their concerns.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


High Unemployment Here to Stay

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Economists don't agree on much, but few expect a sharp reduction in unemployment anytime soon. The labor department releases the October jobs report Friday. September's rate was 9.6 percent.

Columbia University economics professor Joe Stiglitz tells ABC News Radio "growth is likely to remain significantly lower than that required to create the new jobs." That's why the Federal Reserve decided to pump more money into the economy, buying $600 billion in government debt.

The jobless rate is nearly twice as high as Fed policy makers would like it to be.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


What Will Fed's $600 Billion Mean for Consumers?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday's announcement that the Federal Reserve will purchase $600 billion worth of Treasury securities may have been expected by Wall Street, but what does that mean for your pocketbook?

The most direct effect will be on interest rates and consumers' investments.  This is the Fed's main tool for changing monetary policy.  The Fed is going to print more money, thereby making money cheaper to borrow and interest rates lower.

"One could argue that interest rates are too low already and treasury prices are too high," said James O'Sullivan, chief economist with MF Global. "Even if bond yields went up a percentage point in the coming year, the price of a bond would go down less than 10 percent."

Lower interest rates also could lead to lower mortgage rates for consumers looking to buy a home.  Consumers who couldn't afford to borrow money or didn't want to borrow money now have greater incentives to do so at lower rates.  With more people buying homes, the prices of homes could increase and lead to a boost to the housing market.

For consumers with investments in the financial markets, a large purchase like the Fed's, which will take place at a pace of about $110 billion per month until June 2011, theoretically should encourage investors to place their money in places with higher risk and returns, like the stock market, instead of low-yielding bonds, for example.

As those assets increase in value over time, that means a better stock market and potential gains in wealth for people who own stock for retirement or general purposes.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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