- - Monday, June 4, 2012

BERLIN — Germany’s powerful industry lobby group said it will independently monitor the country’s ambitious switchover from nuclear power to renewable energies over the next decade.

Hans-Peter Keitel, head of the BDI lobby group, on Monday criticized the government’s lack of resolve in following up on last year’s decision to speed up phasing out all nuclear power by 2022.

Mr. Keitel said the energy switchover in Europe’s biggest economy amounts to “open heart surgery” and requires “intense monitoring and professional management.”

He said the BDI group, which supports the switchover decision, is now launching a monitoring initiative enlisting two research institutes and a consultant to ensure a more timely and professional oversight of the mammoth project.

COMMERCE

Factory orders fell 0.6 percent in April

Companies placed fewer orders to U.S. factories for the second straight month and a key measure that tracks business investment plans fell, adding to evidence that the economy is weakening.

The Commerce Department said Monday that orders for factory goods fell 0.6 percent in April from March.

Demand for so-called core capital goods, such as heavy machinery and computers, dropped 2.1 percent in April. That followed a 2.3 percent decline in March.

Core capital goods are a good proxy for business investment plans. The declines suggest companies may be worried about a weaker U.S. job market, which could crimp consumer spending. They may also fear the worsening European debt crisis and slower growth in China that could slow demand for U.S. exports.

Even with the declines, factory orders are well above their recession lows. Orders in April totaled $465.98 billion, up 38.7 percent from the recession low reached in March 2009. Orders are still 3.1 percent below the peak reached in December 2007, the month the recession began.

On Friday, the government said U.S. employers added only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and the third straight of subpar hiring. The unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent last month.

OHIO

Court: Reinstate Ohio suit alleging Duke kickbacks

CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court on Monday ordered reinstatement of a lawsuit that accuses Duke Energy Corp. of paying kickbacks to big Cincinnati-area companies to win their support for a 2004 electricity rate increase.

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