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Obama: Shutdown will 'throw wrench' into economy

Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 |
Obama: Shutdown will
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is ramping up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown. He says a shutdown would hurt the economy and hundreds of thousands of government workers.

He says it would "throw a wrench into the gears" of a recovering economy.

He urges the House to pass a short-term spending bill free of any conditions that would weaken the nation's 3-year-old health care law.

Obama spoke Monday after the Senate rejected a House proposal to delay implementation of the health care law. House Republicans were preparing to vote on another stop-gap spending measure, this one putting off a requirement that people must obtain health insurance.

The White House issued a veto threat to that proposal shortly after GOP leaders proposed it.
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Aviation Administration says he's ordered a review of the agency's security protocols and how it deals with unexpected incidents.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta (HWEHR'-tah) said today that he has asked the team of FAA employees and labor union representatives conducting the 30-day review to "think as creatively as possible."

The action comes after last week's fire at a Chicago-area air traffic facility that brought flights at the city's two busy airports to a halt and affected air service across the country. Authorities say it was set by a contract employee who also tried to commit suicide.

Huerta said service at O'Hare airport is back to 60 percent of normal and Midway airport is operating at 75 percent of normal.

The FAA has said it will take about two weeks to fully reopen the control center and hopes to return the facility to full service by Oct. 13.


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The penalty for using an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank went up 5 percent over the past year.

The average fee for using an out-of-network ATM climbed to a new high of $4.35 per transaction, according to a survey released today by Bankrate.com.

Overdraft fees also surged, rising on average over the past 12 months to $32.74. That's the 16th consecutive record high, the firm said.

Checking account fees have been increasing as lenders adjust to federal banking laws and regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. Among the changes: limits on when banks can charge overdraft fees on ATM and debit card transactions and a reduction in the fees that banks charge merchants for each customer who uses credit or debit cards for their purchases.

Lenders have responded by hiking overdraft and ATM fees, as well as increasing how much money customers must maintain in the bank to avoid checking account fees.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August, suggesting that real estate sales will remain sluggish over the next few months.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 1 percent over the past month to 104.7. Higher prices and weak wage growth has limited buying, as the index is 2.2 percent below its level from a year ago.

Price increases going back to 2013 have led to fewer homebuyers, while many families have lacked income to save for down payments. August contracts fell in all four geographical regions compared to the prior month.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans boosted spending by a healthy amount in August, with about half of the increase coming from auto sales. Income rose by a modest amount.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.5 percent in August after showing no gain in July. It was the best result since spending also expanded 0.5 percent in June. Helped by strength in wages and salaries, income rose 0.3 percent in August, slightly faster than a 0.2 percent July increase.

The spending gain was welcome evidence that the economy is maintaining strength in the current July-September quarter. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity, and the slowdown in July had raised concerns about whether the economy would retain the momentum it showed in the spring after a harsh winter.


DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. safety regulators are looking into a consumer's petition alleging that older Toyota Corollas can accelerate unexpectedly at low speeds and cause crashes.

The inquiry covers about 1.69 million of the compact cars from the 2006 to 2010 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will decide whether to open a formal investigation.

An unidentified consumer said in a letter to the agency that a Corolla surged at low speeds several times, and the brakes failed to stop the car. The consumer said the problem caused one collision with a parked vehicle on June 8.

Investigators said they found 141 consumer complaints about the problem. No other crashes or injuries were reported.

The consumer filed the petition on Sept. 11.

Messages were left seeking comment from Toyota have not been answered.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Macy's plans to hire about 86,000 seasonal holiday workers nationwide to bolster its stores, call centers and distribution hubs. That number represents a 3.6 percent increase from a year ago.

The department store chain, which also operates Bloomingdale's, said today that the growth is fueled by its expanding online business. This year, about 10,000 of the total 86,000 seasonal workers will be based in eight distribution centers.

A store's hiring plans can indicate its expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

Shares of Macy's Inc., based in Cincinnati, were down slightly in premarket trading.


WASHINGTON (AP) --Vice President Joe Biden has announced almost a half-billion dollars of grants for community colleges working with employers on job training.

Linking training to industry demand is key to the Obama administration's strategy for improving wages and reducing unemployment.

Massasoit Community College in Massachusetts and Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley Technical College received the largest grants of about $20 million each.

A Maryland program will receive $15 million to partner with companies like Raytheon and IBM to train workers with little education for jobs in cybersecurity or information technology. Schools in Kentucky will get $10 million to expand online learning for degrees in computer and medical fields.


BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's incoming trade chief is vowing to pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the United States but cautions the negotiations have to be more transparent to avoid a public backlash.

Sweden's Cecilia Malmstroem told lawmakers during a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament we must not negotiate "a secret deal behind people's backs."

Malmstroem, the 28-nation bloc's current home affairs commissioner, vows to continuously publish details about her meetings and grant EU lawmakers access to all documents underpinning the negotiations.

Malmstroem says she will carefully assess the negotiations with the U.S., which include sensitive issues like investor protection clauses, and warns that "substance must prevail over timing."

The incoming EU Commission, the bloc's executive arm, needs the EU Parliament's approval. Lawmakers, however, cannot veto specific commissioners.


WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- U.S. Secretary for Commerce Penny Pritzker has identified six areas in which Poland and the U.S. should intensify their commercial ties, even before a major trans-Atlantic agreement is reached.

Pritzker told a meeting of Polish and U.S. businessmen on today that bilateral business is below its potential. U.S. companies have invested some $30 billion in Poland since the early 1990s.

She named infrastructure, building, technology, defense, energy and IT as "areas of opportunity."

Poland is keen to boost its developing economy. As a member of the European Union, it is part of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the U.S.

Pritzker arrived from Ukraine, where she discussed steps that the government should take in order to develop business with the U.S.


BANGKOK (AP) -- The chairman of Lenovo Group says the company has received U.S. government approval to complete its acquisition of IBM Corp.'s low-end server business and plans to use it to grow faster outside its personal computer business.

Yang Yuanqing said Monday the $2.1 billion acquisition is due to close Wednesday following a successful review by a U.S. government security panel.

Yang said the IBM assets will add a "growth engine" to a growing array of businesses that include computers, mobile devices and services.

Also this year, Lenovo bought the Motorola Mobility smartphone business from Google Inc. for $2.9 billion, in an effort to expand its mobile technology offerings.

Yang said Lenovo expects "our mobile business and our enterprise business will be growing even faster than our PC business."