- - Sunday, May 15, 2011


GDP prognosticators foresee slower growth

NEW YORK — Economists are dialing back their expectations for U.S. economic growth this year.

A survey from the National Association for Business Economics predicts that gross domestic product will grow 2.8 percent this year - down from the group’s February prediction that it would grow 3.3 percent. The outlook for consumer spending and the housing market also weakened, in part because economists expect oil prices to remain above $100 a barrel through 2012.

In a survey that the NABE to be released Monday, a panel of 41 economists also said they “remain highly concerned” about the growing federal deficit and that growth in the first three months of the year had been weaker than expected.

The predictions of the economists reflect the jitteriness of a public that is still recovering from the financial crisis and now getting squeezed by rising prices for gas, groceries and other household items. Retailers of all stripes are paying more for the raw materials they need to make and transport their products, such as fuel, cotton and wood pulp, and saying they have no choice but to pass along the price increases to customers.


Northrop Grumman cuts to hit Baltimore area

BALTIMORE — Defense contractor Northrop Grumman says it plans to lay off about 200 employees, mostly in the Baltimore region.

Company spokesman Jack Martin Jr. said Friday that most layoffs will be at four Baltimore-area locations: the Electronic Systems division’s Linthicum headquarters and facilities in Annapolis, Sykesville and Elkridge. Locations in Virginia, Connecticut and Florida will also be affected.

Mr. Martin said about 600 employees were approved for buyouts, mostly in Maryland, but there weren’t enough to avoid layoffs. Employees whose jobs are being eliminated will be notified on Tuesday, and their last workday will be May 31.


Price rises on 10-year note as inflation fears wane

NEW YORK — Treasury prices rose Friday after a government report showed that inflation remains tame.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note rose 43 cents per $100 invested late Friday. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 3.17 percent from 3.23 percent late Thursday.

The Labor Department said consumer prices rose 0.4 percent last month, largely because of higher food and energy prices. That fell in line with economists’ expectations. Excluding food and energy, prices rose a mere 0.2 percent and stayed below the rate of inflation that the Federal Reserve considers normal.


Google sends local news to users of smartphones

SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Friday began letting U.S. smartphone users stay abreast of local news wherever they happen to be.

“News near you” lets iPhones or Android-powered smartphones display stories relevant to locations at any given moment, said product manager Navneet Singh.

Google News made location-based services available about three years ago.

The new feature enables people to tap into location-sensing capabilities of smartphones to customize what headlines are displayed on home pages of devices.


Man who made Nathan’s nationally famous dies

MIAMI — The man who helped turn his father’s Coney Island, N.Y, hot dog stand into a nationally recognized chain has died in Florida. Murray Handwerker, the former head of Nathan’s Famous, was 89.

Bill Handwerker said his father died Saturday at his home in Palm Beach Gardens.

Murray Handwerker was just a child when his father, Nathan, opened his frankfurter business. He went on to work in all aspects of the business and eventually led its transformation into a hot dog powerhouse by opening new locations, offering franchises, putting products in supermarkets and leading the company to go public.

He sold the business in 1987, but his son said he enjoyed hot dogs to the very end of his life.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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