View Count: 152 |  Publish Date: April 03, 2014
U.S. factory orders rise in February
ECONOMYFactory orders up in February
Orders to U.S. factories rose in February after two months of declines, but a critical category that signals business investment plans fell.
Factory orders rose 1.6 percent in February, the most in five months, following declines of 1 percent in January and 2 percent in December, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The February gain reflected a rebound in orders for commercial aircraft and autos. Orders in both categories had fallen for two consecutive months.
But demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide to business investment plans, fell 1.4 percent in February, the second decline in three months.
Many economists say that was due in part to the severe winter, which caused businesses to postpone plans to expand or modernize their operations.LABORGermany to set minimum wage
Chancellor Angela Merkels Cabinet approved a national minimum wage for Germany on Wednesday, guaranteeing workers at least $11.75 per hour starting next year.
Merkels conservative bloc had been in favor of preserving this tradition, but agreed to go ahead with a national minimum wage as a concession to Social Democrats to seal a deal on forming a government together.
In the proposal adopted by the Cabinet, which is expected to get parliamentary approval easily, the Social Democrats agreed to exempt the regulations from applying to long-term unemployed people for their first six months on the job. It also does not cover minors, interns or trainees.
Certain employers, like temp-worker companies and those using seasonal workers, will have two years to phase in the new minimum wage; otherwise the regulations go into effect Jan. 1.
Federal Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said the minimum wage will provide greater fairness in Germany and result in better earnings for 4 million people.MEDICINEFDA approves Intuitive device
Intuitive Surgical Inc., the maker of the da Vinci robotic surgery system, saw its stock climb after regulators cleared the first major upgrade of its product in five years.
The newest system, called the da Vinci Xi, was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
Shares of the Sunnyvale company gained 5 percent Wednesday, closing at $518.50, after a 13 percent jump Tuesday, the biggest one-day advance since July 2009.
The Xi is a more flexible system that will enable doctors to do more complex surgeries, Chief Executive Officer Gary Guthart said. It features thinner arms, and doesnt require repositioning to reach multiple surgical sites. Intuitive, which received approval of the previous robot system in 2009, had $2.27 billion in revenue last year, including sales of robots and instruments.
The new Xi launch is a positive for Intuitive, despite the fact that this was widely expected by investors, Vijay Kumar, an analyst at ISI Group LLC, said in a note to clients.
Intuitives revenue grew 4 percent last year after a 24 percent gain in 2012.
The last time Intuitive brought a new system to market, there was an increase in sales as hospitals upgraded their systems, and the company may eventually sell 1,000 new units, Kumar said in an e-mail.CHIPMAKERSIntel innovation fund in China
Intel Corp. is setting up a $100 million fund in China as part of an effort to get its processors into more devices.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich introduced the Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund at an event Wednesday in Shenzhen. Intels venture unit, Intel Capital, has invested more than $670 million in 110 companies in China since 1998, the semiconductor maker said.
Krzanich is trying to fire up the Santa Clara companys progress in areas outside of personal computers, focusing on tablets, smartphones and wearables. The area around Shenzhen in southern China is home to factories that produce many of the worlds phones, tablets and computers.
Through its regional design center, Intel will boost efforts to give local manufacturers resources such as reference designs and software to help them get Intel-based products to market. Krzanich will also show off a new mobile-phone chip that Intel is trying to get certified for use in handsets connected to China Mobile Ltd.s new high-speed data network.AUTOMAKERSChrysler recalls 870,000 SUVs
Chrysler is recalling nearly 870,000 SUVs because corrosion may make the vehicles brakes harder to use.
Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs from the 2011 through 2014 model years are involved.
Chrysler says crimp joints in the brake boosters can corrode if theyre exposed to water. If the water freezes, the boosters wont aid braking as they usually do.
Chrysler began investigating after some customers said their brakes felt too firm when pressed down. The company knows of one accident, but no injuries, due to the defect.
Dealers will install a shield to protect the boosters for free and replace boosters that arent working properly.
Chrysler has since changed the design to make the boosters more corrosion resistant.
Chrysler will notify owners of the recall, which involves 867,795 vehicles.

Time: 1:53  |  News Code: 392669  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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