Stephen Brashear/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An increase in durable goods orders suggests economic growth may be holding steady this spring. U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods were up in April, led by demand for non-defense aircraft and parts, which increased by $1.9 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Following a 5.9 percent decrease in March, new orders were up two of the last three months. In April, orders increased 3.3 percent to $222.6 billion, a $7.2 billion jump.
Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.3 percent. Overall shipments decreased 0.6 percent and capital goods shipments fell 3.3 percent. Unfilled orders increased 0.3 percent, and inventories rose 0.4 percent in April, according to the report.
Factories had been seeing fewer orders at the start of the year, in part because slower global growth had reduced demand for U.S. exports. Many economists believe U.S. growth is slowing to around two percent and could stay near that level for the rest of the year.
Mike Simons/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- Procter & Gamble says its former chief executive A.G. Lafley is returning to his old job, replacing CEO Bob McDonald, effective immediately.
The change comes after investor complaints about P&G, and calls for an overhaul on how it markets new products in the U.S. and overseas.
"A.G.’s track record and his depth of experience at P&G make him uniquely qualified to lead the Company forward at this important time,” said Jim McNerney, director of P&G’s board. “The Board expects A.G. to further improve results, implement the current productivity plan, and facilitate an ongoing succession process. The Board is confident that he will continue improving P&G’s performance.”
McDonald is leaving the company after 33 years.
“We thank Bob for his service and note the Company’s improving business performance,” McNerney said.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images(CANNES, Paris) -- At a Cannes Film Festival charity auction as star-studded as one of the Great Gatsby’s parties, a pitch rang out that sounded like a sci-fi sequel to Catch Me If You Can.
“How would you like to go to space with Leonardo DiCaprio?” said an auctioneer, the actress Nicole Kidman. “I can’t believe he offered this, by the way,” she added.
The lot? A ticket on the maiden voyage of Virgin Galactic sitting right next to Gatsby, himself, Leonardo DiCaprio.
After three days of astronaut training, the winner would join a flight set to take off from the California desert this fall, detach from the mothership and launch all the way into orbit.
Virgin Galactic is a commercial successor to the space shuttle and one of several new ventures offering tourism in space.
“We have one million euro,” said another auctioneer, actress Sharon Stone. “We’re looking for one million two to go with Leonardo DiCaprio for three days’ training and into outer space!”
“Million-two here going once. … Million-two going twice. … We’re selling!” Stone said.
$1.5 million. The winner was a Russian billionaire, who’ll soon be getting a close-up look at the stars in more ways than one.
Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets head into the long holiday weekend with little change for the Friday session.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 8.60 points to close the session at 15,303.10. The blue chips index earlier Friday had dropped 95 points. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 both gave up a fraction of a point to close at 3,459.14 and 1,649.60, respectively.
Friday marked the end of the first losing week for the Dow and the S&P since the week of April 19.
The markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It seems like airlines these days are piling on more and more fees, while the flying experience is not always so pleasant. But there are some perks worth paying for, according to the findings of a new Harris Interactive survey that examines how fliers who take at least one trip a year feel about certain perks and annoyances when traveling.
Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed say it would be preferable to let a stranger fall asleep on their shoulder during a flight than to have to pay the airline a fee for carry-on bags.
Despite complaints about add-on charges, 58 percent of those surveyed claim they'd be willing to pay extra for more legroom on flights of three hours or more. That percentage falls to just 33 percent for flights of two hours or less.
As for those overly friendly passengers it seems more leg room is worth the trouble. Fifty percent of those surveyed said an annoying, talkative seatmate would be a worthwhile trade-off if it also came with more room to stretch out. But when asked to name the two “most important amenities” when flying, 53 percent say snagging a window or aisle seat was a priority while 35 percent mentioned “extra legroom.”
Fifty-five percent of respondents also said they'd rather have free WiFi than free TV or movies on a flight.
And just 37 percent of respondents say they'd be willing to pay more for flights on newer planes.
Somewhat comforting news for parents who have to cope with crying babies on airline flights. Your fellow passengers would rather hear your baby cry than sit next to an adult with bad body odor.
Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say a stinky adult would be a more off-putting seatmate than one holding a crying baby.