Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices hold steady


FUEL

Austin-area gas prices hold steady

Austin-area gas prices continued to hold mostly steady this week, according to auto club AAA Texas.

The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped 1 cent to $2.07, according to auto club AAA Texas. The price this week is 29 cents more than the same week last year, when the average price per gallon was $1.78, according to AAA Texas data.

Gasoline prices have remained little changed over the past few weeks, AAA said, due to lower driving demand and “an oversupplied market as a result of increased U.S. production.”

For Texas as a whole, the average price dropped 2 cents to $2.09 per gallon this week, according to AAA Texas. The national average dropped 1 cent to $2.29 per gallon, according to AAA data.

ECONOMY

U.S. factory production jumps in February

WASHINGTON — U.S. factories cranked out more autos, steel and computers in February, the sixth straight monthly increase in manufacturing output.

Factory production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent last month from January, the Federal Reserve said Friday . That followed another 0.5 percent gain the previous month.

Factories are benefiting from greater consumer and business optimism since last fall’s presidential election. Companies are spending more on big-ticket items such as industrial machinery, and Americans are buying cars at near-record levels. Overseas growth has spurred more exports.

Factories are emerging from a rough patch that lasted from late 2015 through most of 2016. Sharply lower oil prices hammered demand for drilling equipment, such as steel pipe, and many businesses sold off excess stockpiles, reducing new orders for factory goods.

A strong dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive overseas, also weighed on exports and factory output for roughly the past two years. The currency’s value has leveled off more recently.

WALL STREET

U.S. indexes have slow close to winning week

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks limped to the finish line in another winning week, with indexes turning in a mixed performance on Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 3.13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,378.25 on Friday. Gains a couple days earlier fueled by the Federal Reserve meant the index rose 0.2 percent for the week. It’s the seventh weekly gain for the S&P 500 in the last eight, and the index is within 1 percent of its record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,914.62. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.24 points, or 0.004 percent, to 5,901.00. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 5.49, or 0.4 percent, to 1,391.52. Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The midweek rally came after the Federal Reserve gave a more measured forecast for interest-rate increases than some investors expected. While raising rates by a quarter of a percentage point, the central bank said that it’s still planning a total of three increases this year.

AUTOMAKERS

Volkswagen sales dip as demand weakens

BERLIN — Volkswagen says its global deliveries were down 0.9 percent in February compared with a year earlier as lower sales in China and western Europe outweighed improved performances in the continent’s east and the United States.

The Volkswagen Group, which includes brands such as Audi and Skoda, said Friday it delivered 686,900 vehicles last month.

Sales in western Europe were down 4 percent to 251,700, while sales in China dropped 1.9 percent to 223,000.

In central and Eastern Europe, however, deliveries rose 11.6 percent to 55,500. The picture also was brighter in the Americas — U.S. sales rose 13.3 percent to 42,800 and South American sales climbed 4.1 percent to 35,400.

In the year’s first two months, the Volkswagen Group delivered 1.5 million vehicles, 2.6 percent fewer than a year earlier.



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