- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

JOBS

Businesses post most job openings in 3 years

Companies in July advertised the most jobs in three years, and layoffs declined - a bit of hope for a weak economy. Still, many employers are in no rush to fill openings.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that employers increased their postings to 3.23 million from 3.17 million in June. That is the largest number of openings since August 2008. Typically, it takes anywhere from one to three months to fill an opening.

More openings don’t guarantee more jobs. The government said last week that employers failed to add any net jobs in August, the worst month for hiring since September 2010. The unemployment rate stayed for the second straight month at 9.1 percent.

CALIFORNIA

Politics veteran Bowles joins Facebook board

PALO ALTO | Facebook says former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles has joined its board of directors.

Also a former president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina, Mr. Bowles was recently the co-chairman of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Mr. Bowles was chief of staff in the Clinton White House from 1996 to 1998. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004 on the Democratic ticket. He was president of UNC from 2006 to 2010.

His appointment expands Facebook’s board to seven members.

OIL

More reserve oil releases deemed unlikely

PARIS | The new chief of the International Energy Agency said she foresees no more oil stock releases, despite continuing uncertainty in Libya and other parts of the Arab world.

The U.S. and more than two dozen other countries that make up the IEA put 60 million barrels of oil into the market this summer in an effort to drive down skyrocketing oil prices. Supplies were particularly tight because Libyan exports had slowed to a trickle during the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi while demand generally rises in the warmer summer months.

Maria van der Hoeven said Wednesday that the release was a success but there would be no more.

It was the largest sale of crude ever from world strategic reserves.

SURVEY

Fed: 12 regions grew this summer

Despite the turmoil that shook the financial markets last month, the Federal Reserve says its 12 bank regions grew this summer because consumers spent more in many parts of the country.

The Fed said five of its regions reported modest or slight growth in late July and August. Those regions included St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco.

The seven other regions described growth as subdued, slow or sluggish.

The survey, released Wednesday, is known as the Beige Book and offers mostly anecdotal information on economic conditions across the country. Its findings were a slight improvement from the previous survey, which said growth had slowed in eight of the 12 regions in June and early July.

AUTO

Saab finally seeks bankruptcy protection

STOCKHOLM | The owner of cash-strapped car maker Saab filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a brand crippled by production stoppages, withheld salary payments and mounting debt.

Swedish Automobile, formerly known as Spyker Cars, said the move would buy it time to receive funding from Chinese investors, currently awaiting regulatory approval, and avoid bankruptcy.

The company, led by Dutch businessman Victor Muller, has so far failed to revive the loss-making Swedish brand since taking it over last year from General Motors, which was in the process of dismantling it.

The Saab factory in Trollhattan, southwestern Sweden, has been at a standstill for most of the year as the company struggles to pay suppliers. Since June it hasn’t been able to pay many of its 3,700 workers on time, testing the patience of labor unions that have threatened to put the company in bankruptcy.

CREDIT RATING

Sunoco Logistics put on negative credit watch

PHILADELPHIA | The corporate credit rating of Sunoco Logistics Partners was placed on credit watch with negative implications by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Wednesday, a day after Sunoco Inc. said it was getting out of the refining business.

The credit watch listing means S&P could either lower or affirm the company’s ratings after a review. Sunoco Logistics carries an investment-grade “BBB” corporate credit rating.

S&P analysts said the action follows Sunoco’s decision to exit refining and conduct a strategic review of its businesses. Sunoco Inc. owns about 34 percent of Sunoco Logistics through general partner and limited partner interests.