Business briefs: Justice Department said to be looking at GM

  • Updated: March 11, 2014 - 7:31 PM

Justice Department said to be looking at GM

The Justice Department started a preliminary investigation into how General Motors Co. handled the recall of 1.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths, Bloomberg News reported. The inquiry is focusing on whether GM, the largest U.S. automaker, violated criminal or civil laws by failing to notify regulators in a timely fashion about the switch failures, Bloomberg said, citing an anonymous source said to be familiar with the investigation. GM shares fell the most in two years. Lawyers in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York are leading the investigation, Bloomberg said. Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Checks find flaws in Bangladesh factories

Inspections of Bangladesh garment factories under a new safety initiative have found cracked support beams, extra floors apparently built without permits and exposed electrical cables chewed by rats. Overly heavy structures on roofs, substandard building materials and even an unauthorized helicopter pad were also among the problems revealed in the first round of inspection reports released Tuesday. The inspections are being funded by a group of mostly European fashion brands in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in April last year. They plan to check some 1,500 garment factories in Bangladesh this year. The country’s garment industry, its biggest export earner, has more than 5,000 factories overall.

SAC Capital gets a new name: Point72

SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund that pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges, is getting a new name that makes no reference to its founder, billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen: Point72 Asset Management. In settling on the new name for the firm’s flagship operation, Cohen appeared to find inspiration in the address for SAC’s roughly 98,900-square-foot office at 72 Cummings Point Road. The name was announced Tuesday in a letter to employees. “It reminds us of a sense of continuity: Our headquarters has been at 72 Cummings Point Road for more than a decade, and we anticipate it will be our home for many years to come,” Tom Conheeney, SAC’s president, said in the letter. “Perhaps more important, the name emphasizes we point to a successful future.”

China could uncap interest rates next year

The head of China’s central bank and other top financial regulators offered new details on the country’s steps toward a more market-driven economy, including plans to liberalize interest rates as early as next year and to allow the establishment of the first privately owned official banks. China’s leadership under President Xi Jinping laid out a program of bold, market-driven overhauls in November, but details on how and when these measures would be put into effect have been slow in coming. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, said he expected the country to remove its ceiling on bank deposit rates — the last and most significant government restriction on interest rates — as early as next year.

U.S. job openings stayed cool in January

Job openings increased less than expected in January, a sign labor market cooling from late 2013 persisted as severe winter weather hammered the eastern and Midwestern United States. The number of positions waiting to be filled increased by 60,000 to 3.97 million, from a revised 3.91 million the prior month, the Labor Department said. The pace of hiring fell and fewer Americans quit their jobs. The report follows data last week showing that February payrolls beat estimates after hiring in January was depressed by the weather. Faster hiring would help spur wage growth needed to boost consumer spending.

FDA shuts down Delaware cheese plant

The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations at a Delaware cheese plant after an outbreak of listeria linked to the company’s cheese killed one person and sickened seven others. This is only the second time the FDA has used its authority to shut down a plant after gaining that authority in a 2011 food safety law. The agency said Tuesday that its inspectors found unsanitary conditions at Roos Foods in Kenton, Del., including a badly leaking roof, rusting and deteriorating equipment and food residues on equipment even after it had been cleaned. The FDA said the agency took the action because food manufactured by the company could cause “serious adverse health consequences or death to humans.”

OECD finds economic growth accelerating

Economic growth is gaining momentum in the United States, Europe and other advanced countries despite temporary setbacks, a leading international organization said. Smaller government spending cuts and fewer tax increases this year should boost growth in most developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Households and businesses are also in better financial shape and can capitalize on still-low interest rates, it said. Yet growth will likely slow in developing countries, which now account for more than half of global growth.

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