Is US manufacturing heading for a revival? The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is leading a new effort to bring more manufacturing jobs back to this country. The company's many critics may see this as more than a little ironic as Wal-Mart's decades-long push for low prices were part of the trend that sent production and jobs overseas to low-wage suppliers.
With rising American productivity, increases in Chinese labor costs and falling energy prices, there could be good reasons to bring more work home. "We are entering a new era of opportunity to boost American manufacturing," US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told a two-day conference in Orlando. The goal of the event was to work out how to "drive investment in American manufacturing," said Bill Simon, CEO of the US division of Wal-Mart. What remains to be seen is whether this is more of a PR campaign than the start of a major shift after three decades of decline for many sectors of US manufacturing.
Manufacturing is in the spotlight today with the release of two new reports. The Durable Goods Orders survey for July will provide a fresh look at factory output, and the latest manufacturing report from the executives who do the buying for American businesses is to be issued by the Institute for Supply Management.
Bank of America is phasing out drive-through facilities at some of its local banks. For many consumers online banking is now faster and more convenient. Drive-through tellers were first introduced in 1930, and have been part of the US banking landscape ever since. With ATMs, mobile phones and online check paying, drive-through banking no longer has the appeal it once had.
Praise for the Federal Reserve and criticism for Congress comes in a new survey of business economists out today. Many of the experts who crunch the numbers for big American companies have criticism for Congress over the failure to agree on taxes. "Sixty-eight percent said that uncertainty is holding back the pace of the recovery," says Jay Bryson of the National Association for Business Economics. Most of the more than 200 panel members who took part in the survey approve of the Federal Reserve's policy of quantitative easing. "About three quarters would reply yes they thought it has been a success," says Bryson.
California-based biotech drugmaker Amgen will buy cancer drug maker Onyx Pharmaceuticals for about $10.4 billion in a deal that will add several cancer drugs to Amgen's pipeline of new drugs. Amgen, the world's largest biotech drug firm, plans to pay $125 per share. Its products include Prolia for osteoporosis, Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis and skin disorders, and Neulasta and Neupogen for fighting infection in cancer patients. Onyx makes two cancer drugs through a partnership with Bayer. Sales of Nexavar, a pill that is approved to treat liver and kidney cancer, totaled $861 million in 2012. Stivarga was approved in September as a treatment for colorectal cancer, and won additional approval in February for use against tumors of the intestinal tract that did not respond to other treatments. In July the FDA approved Onyx's Kyprolis as a treatment for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
Stocks have been through their weakest three-week period since November. The Dow Jones Industrial index is down 3.2 percent this month. Weak economic growth and the possible reduction of bond buying by the Federal Reserve are concerns for investors.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc