Business Briefs – February 17, 2016

As Deaths Rise, So Do Chances Of Total Takata Air Bag Recall

DETROIT (AP) – As the Takata air bag saga drags on, concerns are growing that tens of millions of U.S. drivers with cars that haven’t been recalled could be at risk of death or injury from the potentially defective devices.

Federal safety regulators last month confirmed that a South Carolina man’s death in December was caused by a driver’s air bag inflator that wasn’t under recall. It was the ninth Takata-related fatality in the U.S.

Critics say the government’s current approach of issuing recalls piecemeal, “appears to be confusing many consumers” who wonder if their cars have an unsafe air bag that hasn’t been recalled.

Toyota Recalls Over 1.1M SUVs For Possible Seat Belt Failure

DETROIT (AP) – Toyota is recalling more than 1.1 million small SUVs in the U.S. because the seat belts might fail in a crash.

The recall covers RAV4 SUVS from the 2006 through 2012 model years, as well as the RAV4 electric vehicle from 2012 through 2014.

Toyota says it’s possible that the belts in both second-row outside seats could come in contact with the metal seat cushion frame in a severe frontal crash. If that happens, the belts could become cut and would not restrain passengers.

Iran Snubs Doha Proposal, Won’t Freeze Oil Output

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran appeared Wednesday to back a plan laid out by four influential oil producers to cap their crude output if others do the same, though it offered no indication that it has any plans to follow suit itself.

The agreement reached in Doha the day before by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela is aimed at stabilizing global oil prices, which recently plunged to less than $30 a barrel, a 13-year low. But Iran is keen to ramp up exports to regain market share now that sanctions related to its nuclear program have been lifted under a landmark agreement.

U.S. Housing Starts Fall in Notably Cold and Snowy January

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cold winter weather appears to have cut into homebuilding in the Midwest and Northeast, causing the pace of construction to tumble in January.

Housing starts slipped 3.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million homes, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

The setback occurs after months of improvement for the real estate market. For all of 2015, builders broke ground on 1.1 million properties, the most since 2007 when the housing bubble was beginning to burst into a broader recession.

U.S. Producer Prices Up 0.1 Percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. producer prices edged up slightly in January as the biggest rise in food costs in eight months offset a further decline in energy prices. The tiny overall increase indicated that inflation pressures remain modest.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that its Producer Price Index rose 0.1 percent in January after having fallen 0.2 percent in December. Over the past year, the PPI, which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, is down 0.2 percent.

Minutes Show Fed Worried By Global Turmoil

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve policymakers expressed growing concerns at their meeting last month about potential threats to the U.S. economy, including turbulence in financial markets, plunging oil prices and slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.

Minutes of their discussions released Wednesday showed Fed officials acknowledging that the developments made it difficult to forecast growth and inflation.

The officials said their outlook had grown more uncertain, and they stressed that the pace of any interest-rate increases would hinge on the latest economic data. The Fed raised rates from record lows in December, the first hike in nearly a decade.

Bombardier to Cut About 7,000 Jobs, Hire for Growth Areas

NEW YORK (AP) – Bombardier says it plans to cut approximately 7,000 jobs — or about 10 percent of its global workforce — over two years, even as it adds jobs in growing areas of its business.

The company said Wednesday that the job cuts will include production and non-production employees, with 2,000 of the positions being contractors. It had 70,900 employees worldwide at 2015’s end, according to Bombardier.

The positions to be eliminated are mostly in Canada and Europe.