Regulator allows bitcoin futures trading; Black Friday boosted auto sales in November

December 1

CURRENCY

Regulator allows bitcoin futures trading

A federal regulator gave the go-ahead on Friday to the CME Group to start trading bitcoin futures later this month, the first time the digital currency will be traded on a Wall Street exchange and subject to federal oversight.

CME, which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, will start trading bitcoin futures Dec. 18, the company said. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the primary regulator for exchanges like the CME, gave approval for the exchange to create bitcoin futures after six weeks of talks.

CME is using a process known as “self-certification,” which is when an exchange pledges that the new instruments will not break any federal securities laws.

The price of bitcoin futures will be based on the price the digital currency is going for on its major exchanges — Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken. Due to volatility, the futures will have higher margin levels and intraday price limits, CME said.

— Associated Press

AUTO INDUSTRY

Black Friday boosted sales in November

Black Friday deals and strong consumer confidence pushed auto sales higher in November, according to data released Friday.

Market analysis firm Autodata reported U.S. sales of new cars and trucks rose 1 percent to nearly 1.4 million last month.

Some analysts had said November sales would drop as post-hurricane sales slowed in Texas and Florida. But Black Friday deals helped lure buyers.

Automakers were offering an average of $3,700 to $3,800 in incentives per vehicle last month. As prices creep up, deals creep up also, analysts say. The trend will probably continue in 2018, when U.S. sales are expected to drop and automakers will be keen to hold on to their market share.

Sales were buoyed by strong U.S. consumer confidence, which was at its highest level since November 2000, according to the Conference Board, an industry-backed research group.

Subaru sales rose 1 percent, and Honda saw an 8 percent jump. Ford sales rose 7 percent on demand for trucks and SUVs.

Hyundai sales fell 9 percent, with Toyota and GM seeing a 3-percent drop. Fiat Chrysler sales fell 4 percent, and Volkswagen sales were down 1.6 percent.

— Associated Press

ECONOMY

In Nov., manufacturing fell, construction rose

A measure of U.S. factory activity fell in November as a gauge of employment cooled, but the index continued to point to strengthening manufacturing conditions.

The Institute for Supply Management said Friday its index of national factory activity slipped to a reading of 58.2 last month from 58.7 in October. The index was only marginally below a September reading that was the highest since May 2004.

But the ISM’s employment index slipped to 59.7 from 59.8, which could point to less strength in manufacturing hiring this month.

Other data on Friday showed a jump in U.S. construction spending in October as public construction outlays surged and investment in private projects increased for the first time in four months. The Commerce Department said construction spending increased 1.4 percent to a record high of $1.24 trillion.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Prosecutors are seeking a seven-year prison sentence for a Volkswagen senior manager who pleaded guilty in the automaker’s U.S. diesel emissions scandal. Oliver Schmidt, 48, will be sentenced Wednesday in Detroit federal court. In a court filing this week, federal prosecutors said Schmidt followed a “script of deception” while VW used software to cheat emissions rules when he led VW’s engineering and environmental office in Michigan from 2012 to 2015.

Macy’s said Friday that it had a strong start to the holiday shopping season and would hire an additional 7,000 temporary workers in anticipation of the demand continuing through Christmas. The department store chain had said in September it would hire 80,000 temporary workers for the holidays, compared with last year’s 83,000.

Ford is recalling more than 202,000 pickup trucks and SUVs in North America because front-seat cushions can come loose and fail to properly hold people in a crash. The recall covers certain 2016 F-150 and Explorer vehicles equipped with front power seats. The automaker said a bolt in the power-seat adjuster can come loose or fall out. If that happens, the seat cushion can move too far. Ford said it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries from the problem.

— From news reports

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