Retail sales rose an estimated 1.1 percent in February from January and were up 4.6 percent from February 2012, the Census Bureau says.
Kathy Bostjancic director of macroeconomic analysis at the The Conference Board research group, says in an analysis sent to reporters that the report's a sign that "consumer spending remains relatively robust." And since consumers buy about 70 percent of all goods and services, their willingness to spend is a key economic driver.
One American airport already has that wow factor, which brings us to today's last word in business, which is: First Class.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The Indianapolis International Airport was named the Best Airport in North America by the Airports Council International. They're right. It's nice. The annual Airport Service Quality awards are determined by year-round passenger satisfaction surveys.
In China, property prices continue to spiral upwards, despite government efforts to cool off the hot real estate market there. In recent weeks, there have been warnings that the Chinese housing bubble will burst, with dire effects on the broader economy and the entire world. Some don't see that happening, and one skeptic is Leta Hong Fincher. She is a sociology researcher who studies real estate in China. We reached her in Beijing.
Thank you for joining us.
LETA HONG FINCHER: Thank you for having me, Renee.
Now let's come back to the United States for this next story, because over the past few years, more than a dozen American airports - big and small - have renovated or added new terminals. The latest in Birmingham, Alabama opens today.
NPR's Russell Lewis reports on why so many airports are sprucing up.
RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: With just hours before the new $200 million terminal was to open, it was a mad dash...
(SOUNDBITE OF DRILLING)
LEWIS: ...as workers drilled signs above the restaurants,
The Chinese solar company Suntech announced yesterday it will shut down its only factory here in the U.S.
As Peter O'Dowd reports from member station KJZZ, recent U.S. tariffs played a role in the plant's failure.
PETER O'DOWD, BYLINE: Suntech had been making solar panels in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear for two years. But in that time, GTM Research analyst Shyam Mehta says the global price of solar panels had fallen by more than 60 percent.
Dunkin' Donuts plans to go green by committing to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainable sources.
Credit Romeo Gacad / AFP/Getty Images
This palm oil mill uses energy produced by palm oil waste. It sits in one of the concession areas run by palm oil giant PT SMART (Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology) in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo.
Dunkin' Donuts is changing its recipes — though you may not notice much difference the next time you bite into a cruller. In response to pressure from one of New York's top elected officials, the company recently announced that it will set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil in making its donuts.
If the cruise industry is smarting from some recent PR disasters, it's not letting on. Executives are gathered in Florida this week for Cruise Shipping Miami, a big conference. It's been a month since an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph knocked out the ship's power, leaving it stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Cable networks seem to carry every moment of the drama, as the ship and more than 3,000 passengers were towed slowly to port.
He's the richest man you've never heard of: Amancio Ortega, founder of the Spanish clothing chain Zara. He's a notorious recluse who is rumored to wear the same plain shirt every day, but his Zara empire has come to define the concept of fast fashion.
Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 12:37 pm
Google has agreed to pay a $7 million fine to settle claims from 37 states and the District of Columbia that the search giant improperly collected data from unsecured wireless networks across the United States using its "Street View" vehicles.
Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 3:06 pm
People willingly drive across town to save 50 cents on a carton of milk. But when it comes to health care, they don't want to think about how much it costs, and they don't want their doctors to think about it either, according to a recent study in the journal Health Affairs.
That's not good news for those who hope to nudge people into being more cost-conscious health care consumers.
For only the second time ever, the Securities and Exchange Commission is charging a state with fraud, for allegedly misleading investors about the health of its pension funds. The SEC says the state of Illinois did not properly inform investors that its pension funds were significantly underfunded when selling bonds from 2005 to 2009. This is the latest fiscal black eye for a state with a pension shortfall approaching a whopping $100 billion. The state has agreed to settle the charges.
Leaders of several cruise lines are meeting in Miami on Tuesday to discuss the state of the industry. The conference comes after a series of setbacks, including a cruise ship losing power for days in the Gulf of Mexico.
Technology has made it easier than ever to track your activity levels, your sleep cycles, how you spend your time, and more. The self-trackers who near-obsessively capture and analyze their own data are part of a growing "Quantified Self" movement.
Mayor Mike and his public health edicts are having a rough ride.
On Monday, a state judge in Manhattan struck down New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's rule capping soda sizes. And lawmakers in Mississippi are taking the backlash against government regulation on food marketing one step further.
Estate planning may seem like a pain, but imagine the mess you leave to those managing your affairs if you don't draw up a will or get life insurance.
"It takes really just a few hours now, rather than a pile of hours and thousands of dollars to do it later when you really need it done," says Chanel Reynolds, who created a website geared to help people get their affairs in order.
The online betting market Intrade has shut down. Intrade allowed customers to wager on the outcome of events such as presidential elections. The company says all betting is on hold until it can investigate possible financial irregularities.
When she got out of college and moved to New York, Elizabeth Cline liked to shop at vintage-clothing stores. They were the kinds of places tucked away on side streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn, where a lot of hunting and a little luck might reward you with a great, inexpensive cocktail dress that no one else had.
Then she discovered the world of "fast fashion" — chains like Forever 21, H&M and Zara — and it redefined her whole notion of bargain shopping.
The housing market is recovering. Prices are rising, the number of foreclosures is falling, and construction crews are finally starting to build again. But in one key way, housing remains in crisis mode: The U.S. housing market is still a ward of the state.
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 6:40 pm
Everywhere you walk in downtown Austin, Texas, new names compete for the attention of the tens of thousands wandering the SXSW Interactive festival. Which of this year's emerging ideas and brands — MakerBot, Leap Motion, Geomagic — will break into mainstream consciousness? Here's a quick rundown of the conversation topics in coffee lines, and some notes on appearances and panels that caught our attention:
It's not unusual for states to offer up tax breaks and other incentives to lure industry. Now, Alabama is adding a new enticement for European airplane maker Airbus and its suppliers: protection from legal liability.
If you've had wrist and shoulder pain from clicking a mouse, relief may be in sight. This spring, a new motion sensing device will go on sale that will make it possible for the average computer user to browse the Web and open documents with a wave of a finger.
The Leap Motion Controller is on display at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, for the first time. It's one of the most talked about startups at the conference, where some 26,000 people have gathered to see emerging tech companies.
Of all the posters plastered around Facebook's Silicon Valley headquarters — "Move Fast and Break Things," "Done Is Better Than Perfect" and "Fail Harder" — Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has a favorite: "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"
"[It's] something that I think is really important and I think very motivating," Sandberg tells NPR's Renee Montagne. " ... I wrote in my book, what I would do if I wasn't afraid is, I would speak out more on behalf of women."
Trader Warren Meyers works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Stocks opened higher after the government reported a burst of hiring last month that sent the unemployment rate to a four-year low. But both the White House and congressional Republicans reacted to the news in less than celebratory fashion.
The February jobs report was just the latest proof that the economy doesn't really care how much it confounds the messaging strategies of Washington's political class.
News that the economy created 236,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years, caught nearly everyone by surprise after economists forecast perhaps 171,000 new jobs.