Salt mining still idle at N.Y. Cargill site
Mining operations remain suspended at a central New York salt mine nearly a month after 17 workers were rescued from an elevator stuck 900 feet underground. Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. said work continues on the elevator system at the mine in the Finger Lakes town of Lansing, 40 miles southwest of Syracuse. The mine at the southern end of Cayuga Lake is the deepest salt mine in the nation, employing about 200 people. There's no estimate on when mining will resume. The elevator malfunctioned late on the night of Jan. 6 as the workers where descending to the mine's 2,300-foot-deep floor to start their shift. They were trapped for up to nine hours before a crew from a crane company used a basket to haul the men to the surface.
After the holidays, jobless claims rise
The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits rose last week as employers continued to adjust staffing levels following the holidays. Jobless claims climbed by 8,000 to 285,000 in the week ended Jan. 30, from a revised 277,000 in the prior period, a report from the Labor Department showed on Thursday. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 278,000. The four-week average exceeded 280,000 for a third consecutive week, indicating the pace of firings has sped up a bit from historically low levels. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly claims numbers, increased to 284,750 last week from 282,750. The last time the average exceeding 280,000 for at least three consecutive weeks was in April.
Long-term mortgage rates fall again
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for the fifth straight week amid volatility in world financial markets. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slid to 3.72 percent this week, down from 3.79 percent last week and the lowest since it averaged 3.68 percent in April 2015. The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage slid to 3.01 percent from 3.07 percent last week.
Air bag problems bring about recall
Another problem has developed with automotive air bags, and this one will bring recalls of up to 5 million vehicles worldwide. Continental Automotive Systems said in documents filed with the U.S. government that moisture can get inside its air bag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail. If that happens, air bags may not inflate in a crash or they could deploy without a crash. The documents, posted Thursday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, said Continental will notify automakers, who will recall cars dating as far back as 2006. Already Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes have issued recalls, and some unidentified Mazda and Volvo Truck vehicles are included. Continental said fewer than 2 million of the affected vehicles are in the U.S.
Redstone replaced as Viacom chairman
Media mogul Sumner Redstone stepped down as executive chairman of Viacom on Thursday and was replaced by CEO Philippe Dauman, a move that immediately disappointed investors. Although the decision mimicked a similar move at sister company CBS, the action had the potential to set off a future board fight. Redstone's daughter, Shari, said Wednesday she was against Dauman's promotion to the role because of his deep involvement in Redstone family affairs. Investment adviser SpringOwl, which holds a stake of undisclosed size in Viacom, had also opposed Dauman's bid for the chairmanship, calling instead for an independent director. Dauman is one of seven trustees who will control nearly 80 percent of the voting stakes at both CBS and Viacom after 92-year-old Redstone dies. That fortune is worth around $4 billion.