Business Briefs – January 10, 2016

U.S. Consumer Borrowing Rose $14 Billion in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumers boosted their borrowing in November, as higher credit-card spending partially offset slower growth in auto and student loans.

Consumer borrowing rose $14 billion in November to a fresh record high of $3.53 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Friday. Economists believe that strong job gains in the labor market will boost consumer confidence and convince households to finance purchases by taking on more debt.

For November, the category that covers credit cards increased $5.7 billion after a much smaller $65 million gain in October. The category that covers auto loans and student loans rose by $8.3 billion.

U.S. Employers Hire at Robust Pace, Defying Global Trends

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy is motoring ahead despite slowing global growth that caused upheavals in financial markets around the world this week.

Employers added a robust 292,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate stayed low at 5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. Job gains in the October-December quarter averaged 284,000, the best three-month increase since last January.

The strong hiring underscores the resilience of the United States at a time of slow global growth and financial turmoil. Healthy consumer spending, modest gains in home construction and an uptick in government spending should offset drags from overseas and bolster growth this year, economists said.

ADB Head Optimistic China’s Economy to Grow 6.7 Percent

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Asian Development Bank president said Friday he is optimistic China’s economy will post healthy growth of 6.7 percent this year despite jitters over the yuan’s depreciation and a plunge in Chinese stocks.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao said that China’s growth “is still very high” compared with other countries. The development bank estimates the Chinese economy grew 6.9 percent last year.

China’s stock markets have little connection to the rest of its economy, but two sharp price declines this week have focused attention on the slowdown in Chinese growth.

Old Driver’s License? You Can Still Fly for 2 More Years

NEW YORK (AP) – Fliers who don’t have the latest driver’s licenses will have a two-year reprieve before their IDs are rejected at airport security checkpoints.

Many travelers had been worried that the Transportation Security Administration would penalize them because of a federal law requiring newer, more-stringent IDs at the start of this year. But late Friday afternoon, the Department of Homeland Security said passengers could continue using their current IDs until Jan. 22, 2018. Some would have until Oct. 1, 2020.

After those dates, passengers without the proper driver’s licenses would have to use other federally-approved forms of ID such as a passport.

Toys R Us Holds Its Own Against Online End-of-the-Year Competition

NEW YORK (AP) – Toys R Us reported stronger end-of-the-year sales despite intense competition from online retailers such as Amazon.

The company said Friday that sales at stores open at least a year rose 2 percent from Nov. 2 to Jan. 2, compared with the same period last year. From Nov. 29 and Jan. 2, sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.7 percent.

Industry analysts pay close attention to these comparable-store sales figures because they exclude the volatility of newly opened or closed stores, providing a better picture of a retailer’s health.

U.S. Coal Production Falls To Lowest Level in Nearly 30 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. coal production has fallen to its lowest level in nearly 30 years as cheaper sources of power and stricter environmental regulations reduce demand, according to preliminary government figures.

A report released Friday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates 900 million short tons of coal were produced last year, a drop from about 1 billion short tons in 2014. That’s the lowest volume since 1986.

The slump has led to bankruptcies and layoffs at mining companies, but the effects have rippled outward, stressing state budgets and forcing layoffs in other sector such as railroads, which are transporting less coal.