Toyota issues a recall, and Apple apologizes for service outages on Wednesday. There is more business news here for March 12, 2015.
Airline Travel Flying High
The industry group Airlines for America reports that the spring travel season could see United States airlines post their highest passenger numbers in seven years. The group said almost 135 million passengers are expected to fly in March and April. That figure comes out to 2.2 million people a day. If the report pans out, that would be the most airlines travelers in a two-month period since numbers peaked in 2007, just before the financial crisis. The 2015 projections are a 2 percent boost from the 132 million people who flew on U.S. airlines during the same period last year. The boost in the dollar’s viability in foreign exchange markets is one of the key factors spurring the travel boost.
Another Toyota Recall
Toyota Motors is recalling more than 110,000 Camrys, Highlanders and RAV4s, the automaker announced Wednesday. It will conduct a safety recall of approximately 2,500 RAV4s, and approximately 110,000 Camrys and Highlanders. The RAV4 vehicles have an Electric Vehicle Traction Motor Assembly which “may cause the vehicle to shift to neutral due to a software issue,’’ the company said. The other vehicles have a “circuit board for the electric power steering (which) may have been damaged during its manufacturing process.” The damage could result in the loss of power steering assist, the notice said. Toyota said it is not aware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities from either of the vehicle problems. Toyota will send out a letter to car owners who need to have their cars serviced.
Apple product owners suffered an unusual downtime Wednesday morning and afternoon when iTunes and the App Store, among other functions, went through a service outage. Some users reported seeing connection errors throughout the early morning when attempting to either access apps or download new data. Bloomberg said the outages were discovered in the United States, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Apple said the cause was an internal DNS error. Through the day, there were outages reported with iCloud as well.
DirecTV Gets Noticed
U.S. regulators Wednesday filed a complaint against DirecTV for deceptive advertising related to a 12-month discounted service fee that did not include information that the costs would rise after the one-year period. The Federal Trade Commission said the nation’s largest satellite television provider did not clearly disclose to customers that the discounted program required a two-year contract and that prices for eth second year could spike as much as $45 per month. "DirecTV sought to lock customers into longer and more expensive contracts and premium packages that were not adequately disclosed,'' FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. “It’s a bedrock principle that the key terms of an offer to a consumer must be clear and conspicuous, not hidden in fine print.''
Jobless Claims Fall Again
The Labor Department Thursday said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits feel more than expected last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended March 7. The drop recovered some of the job numbers from the prior two week’s increases, which had pushed claims above the 300,000 mark. The four-week moving average of claims fell 3,750 to 302,250 last week. The government last week reported the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent.
Retail Sales Drop
The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly for a third straight month in February, and the harsh weather across the country is believed to have kept consumers out of automobile showrooms and shopping malls. The report said retail sales dropped 0.6 percent after declining 0.8 percent in January. The decline in sales was broad-based and not specific to one spending decision. It marked the first time since 2012 that sales dropped in three consecutive months. Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services were unchanged after a 0.1 percent decline in January.