- - Monday, October 1, 2012

U.S. manufacturing grew for the first time in four months, buoyed by a jump in new orders and more jobs. The increase is a hopeful sign that the economy may be improving after a weak stretch.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its index of factory activity rose to 51.5. That’s up from 49.6 in August.

A reading above 50 signals growth and below indicates contraction. The index had been below that threshold from June through August.

Most economists were encouraged by the report after weak consumer spending and fewer exports slowed factory production in the spring. Still, they cautioned that economic growth is likely to stay modest until hiring accelerates and consumers spend more.

RETAIL

Ikea plans to sell only energy-efficient lighting

PHILADELPHIA — Two years after it began phasing out incandescent bulbs, Swedish retailer Ikea announced Monday it is taking another step and planning to sell only energy-efficient LED lighting by 2016.

Ikea said the shift to the longer-lasting bulbs will help set an environmentally friendly example in the industry and also save the company about $10 million to $20 million a year, or 10 percent, in lighting costs at its 300 stores around the globe.

EUROPE

Unemployment stuck at record 11.4 percent

BRUSSELS — Unemployment across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at its record high rate of 11.4 percent in August, official data showed Monday, renewing concerns that efforts to slash debts have sacrificed jobs.

While European leaders have managed to calm financial markets in recent months with promises to cut spending and build a tighter union, they have been unable to solve the eurozone’s deep-rooted economic problems and the rising tide of joblessness.

Europe’s problems are dragging down the entire global economy. The region is the U.S.’s largest export customer and any fall-off in demand will hit American companies — as well as President Obama’s election prospects.

FOOD

Peanut butter recall grows to include major retailers

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