February Jobs Report Shows Surprising Strength

Mar 7, 2014 9:00am

Morning Money Memo…

The Labor Department says 175,000 new jobs were created in February, more than expected, and good news for Wall Street investors. Stock futures jumped on the news. The US unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.7 percent. January’s job creation estimate was also revised higher to 129,000.

More Americans started looking for work but didn’t find jobs. That’s still an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggests that people were more optimistic about their prospects.

The numbers are a welcome surprise after recent economic reports showed that harsh weather closed factories, lowered auto sales, and caused existing-home sales to plummet.

Business leaders are more confident about economic growth, and that could be a big plus for jobs in the coming months.

“We’re getting a little more comfortable that the economy can sustain growth,” says James Morrison, CFO of Teknor Apex company, commenting on positive findings in the American Institute of CPA’s quarterly survey. “You need a strong base before companies are willing to make long-term decisions to hire,” says Morrison.

Safeway has been bagged by Cerberus Capital Management. The private equity firm already owns Albertsons and several other supermarket chains.

The purchase could cost Cerberus more than $9 billion. It comes amid consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores

Chinese authorities have allowed the country’s first corporate bond default, a sign that the Communist government is serious about market reforms in the financial sector.

A Shanghai manufacturer of solar panels paid only part of $15 million in interest due today on bonds issued in 2012, according to two bondholders. They received as little as 3 percent of what they were owed. Until now, Beijing has bailed out troubled companies to preserve confidence in credit markets. But the ruling Communist Party has pledged to make the economy more productive by allowing market forces a bigger role.

Energy giant Chevron is being criticized after it offered pizza coupons to a Pennsylvania community near a natural gas well that exploded last month and killed a worker.

News stories, TV shows and blogs — many sarcastic or outright scornful — spread the word far and wide. “Shame on you,” one person wrote about the offer by Chevron Corp. “How insulting!” said another. Comedy Central’s satirical “The Colbert Report” skewered it.

But not one resident of Bobtown, Pa., has signed an online petition demanding that Chevron apologize. And many in the small town are more annoyed with the response from outsiders. Some residents say the pizza offer was Chevron’s way of apologizing for traffic after the fire, not an attempt to downplay the loss of life.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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