Monday Moneybeat

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, May 28th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

Here are a couple of signs the economy is still in good shape: First one, American consumers spent more money on long-lasting manufactured goods in April than they did in March. That’s according to data the U.S. Commerce Department released on Friday in its durable-goods report. An asterisk on that is you have to factor out sales of aircraft to come to that conclusion. But economists are willing to do that because all the other numbers represent improvements.

The second sign is that factory production increased in April after not growing the previous month. That’s based on a report by the Federal Reserve. A broader measure of industrial production, a measure that includes mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent in April.

REICHARD: The durable-goods report tracks items meant to last for at least three years. And in the report, there was a single volatile category that dragged the big number down, and that was a 30 percent drop in civilian aircraft sales. So if you take aircraft into account, durable-goods orders fell just shy of 2 percent. If you factor them out, orders rose about a percentage point. Orders for computers, appliances, and other electrical equipment, as well as motor vehicles all went up.

EICHER: Here’s the reason Fiat Chrysler decided last week to recall 5.3 million vehicles. The driver of a 2017 Dodge Journey SUV was doing 70 with the cruise control on.

When the driver noticed the windshield wipers came on by themselves, that was about the point when the throttle also locked up. The driver tapped the brakes and that was not enough stop the cruise control. Nor did pressing the button to disengage it. So the driver slammed on the brakes, managed to get the SUV to the side of the road, and only by putting the vehicle in park did the engine stop trying to accelerate. The engine was working so hard, the brakes smoked.

REICHARD: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned drivers not to use cruise until getting the necessary repairs. Fiat Chrysler recalled 15 models of Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Ram over six model years. The company as early as next week will be in touch with specific owners of the recalled vehicles.

EICHER: Amazon is not recalling its Echo Dot voice-controlled systems, but the company is trying to find a way to avoid repeating an embarrassing problem that surfaced last week.

The owner of five Echo Dot devices was having a conversation at her home with her husband. One of the devices perceived a vocal cue that sounded like the wake word “Alexa.”

Then what followed was something the company says is an unlikely sequence of events: After waking up, the system perceived the command “send message.” It asked “to whom?” and perceived a name in the customer’s contact list. It repeated the name and confirmed by asking, “right?” Then it perceived a vocal confirmation and sent the message.

Amazon apologized and offered to take back the devices for a full refund.

REICHARD: On Wall Street, a winning week for all the major market indexes, and they all remain positive for the year.

The markets would’ve done better but for a rough closing day on Friday following reports that OPEC countries plan more oil production. That will drive oil prices down, and that’s potentially good for consumers but not so great for energy companies. The news prompted a small selloff on Friday, and energy company stocks suffered their worst losses in months.

EICHER: And that’s today’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) In this May 10, 2018, file photo, stock screens are shown at the New York Stock Exchange.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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