Is The Economy Really Slowing Down?

Morning Business Memo

Glass half full or half empty? A small rise in layoffs reported by the Labor Department yesterday and disappointing home sales for March plus signs of slowing manufacturing activity are fanning fears about the recovery. In Europe bond interest yields have been rising in recent days. After several months of optimism about growth, some experts are casting doubt about the strength of the US and global economy. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, warns of "dark clouds on the horizon."

But many economists and market watchers say it's too early to draw any conclusions. "We're going to have to give it another couple of weeks and if this trend continues," says Art Cashin of UBS Financial. Asked for his view of the latest jobs and housing figures, David Abuaf, chief investment officer of Hefty Wealth Partners says, "Even though the numbers look bad at first the more research and the more work that we do the better the figures look."

Take that management! Unions at American Airlines are backing a potential takeover offer by rival US Airways that could be a blow to those who run the bankrupt airline. They're trying to cut costs and emerge from Chapter 11. The unions are said to believe combining with US Airways would give American the best chance to grow and preserve jobs. An announcement by the unions may be coming today. A spokesman for American says that the company is focused on its own plan to reorganize under bankruptcy protection, which he calls the best option for the airline's 73,000 employees.

Microsoft fared better than anticipated in its latest quarter, boosted by a surprising rise in sales of its Windows operating system. Windows 8 is expected to be released later this year. The next version marks the most radical overhaul of the widely-used operating system in decades. Microsoft earned $5.1 billion during the three months ending in March.

The Federal Reserve says big banks will have two years to comply with a rule that would ban them from trading for their own profit. The so-called Volcker rule was expected to take effect this summer. But the Fed now says it won't enforce it until July 2014. The aim of the rule is reduce the risk of large banks failing again in a future financial crisis.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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