Business news briefs
two DOE grants
Utah's Ceramatec has been awarded two U.S. Department of Energy grants worth a combined $3.8 million to pursue the development of its research. One grant will aid Ceramatec's efforts to develop a small-scale membrane reactor to convert natural gas into transportable liquids in one step. The other will help it develop a solid-state fuel cell that operates at temperatures similar to internal combustion engines.
injuries tick higher
The number of workers injured while on the job rose slightly in Utah last year. The U.S. Department of Labor, through its Bureau of Labor Statistics, said that the overall incident rate in Utah for the public and private sectors rose to 3.7 injuries or illnesses for every 100 workers in 2011, up from 3.6 in the previous year.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 23,000, to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 last week. It was the second straight drop after Superstorm Sandy drove applications higher earlier this month. Before the storm, weekly applications had fluctuated this year from 360,000 to 390,000, while employers have added an average of 157,000 jobs a month, barely enough to lower the unemployment rate.
An index measuring the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in October jumped to its highest level in almost six years. Job gains and low mortgage rates have made homebuying more attractive. The 5.2 percent increase in the National Association of Realtor's index for October points to healthy sales of previously occupied homes in the months ahead.
GM set to build
3rd China plant
General Motors Co. and its joint venture partners in China say they will spend $1 billion to build a third car plant to keep up with demand for vehicles in the world's biggest auto market. The first phase of the factory will open in 2015. The new factory will be in Chongqing city, in central Sichuan province.
In a sign of how competitive the small-car market has become, Honda is putting out a redesigned Civic just 19 months after the previous one hit showrooms. Honda forced through the changes in about half the time it normally takes after critics slammed the car's boxy styling, cheap interior, and noisy ride.
Kroger raises its
Kroger Co., which operates Smith's Food & Drug in Utah, is raising its earnings outlook for the year after reporting a third-quarter profit that topped Wall Street expectations. Kroger earned $316.5 million, or 60 cents per share, up from$195.9 million, or 33 cents per share, a year ago. It expects to earn $2.44 to $2.46 per share for the year, up from the previous range of $2.35 to $2.42.