GM predicts modest growth in profits
General Motors says it expects only a modest increase in pretax profits this year as it rolls out many new cars and trucks worldwide.
The company also expects global auto sales to grow modestly this year, driven by the U.S. and China.
The company told investors at a Deutsche Bank industry conference in Detroit that its pretax profit margin in North America should rise from 8 percent to 10 percent in the next three or four years. Profit margin is a measure of how much the company earned after costs of doing business.
GM posted nearly $4 billion in net income during the first nine months of last year, including almost $1.5 billion in the third quarter. The company will announce fourth-quarter and full-year earnings in a few weeks.
US retail sales rose 0.5% in December
U.S. consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture and clothing. Steady job growth and lower gas prices kept consumers shopping for the holidays, despite worries about potential tax increases.
Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in December from November, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That’s slightly better than November’s 0.4 percent increase and the best showing since September.
Sales of autos and auto parts rose 1.6 percent to lead all categories. Car companies closed out their best sales year since 2007.
Total retail spending was even stronger when factoring out a steep drop in gas prices.
US taps pension fund to avoid limit
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the government has begun borrowing from the federal employee pension fund to keep operating without surpassing its debt limit.
Geithner says in a letter to congressional leaders that the move will free up $156 billion in borrowing authority while Congress debates increasing the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
The government reached its borrowing limit Dec. 31, but began using bookkeeping maneuvers to keep from surpassing it. Geithner has told congressional leaders that Treasury expects to exhaust those measures by mid-February to early March.
Chipotle adding catering service
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is adding catering service.
The Denver-based chain says its catering service will be available in Colorado starting Monday and will roll out to all of its markets in coming months.
Chipotle already has been selling mix-and-match “burritos by the box” for smaller catering orders. But the catering service is designed to feed 20 to 200 people, with each person able to customize their meals, much as they would at a Chipotle restaurant.
From wire reports