Business

US economy likely slowed last quarter, but rebound expected

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy likely slowed significantly in the first three months of the year, though economists foresee a sharp rebound in the current April-June quarter on the strength of solid job growth, higher consumer confidence and stock-market records. The government on Friday will release its first of three estimates of growth for the January-March quarter as measured by the gross domestic product.

UK economy slows as Brexit weighs on consumers

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's economy slowed in the first three months of the year as concerns about the U.K.'s exit from the European Union spurred inflation and forced consumers to rein in spending. The economy expanded 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, below the 0.4 percent that was expected and less half the 0.7 percent it grew at the end of 2016, the Office for National Statistics said Friday.

Eurozone inflation rises to target as economy improves

LONDON (AP) -- Inflation in the 19-country eurozone is back up at the European Central Bank's targeted level as a strengthening economy helps drive up prices, stoking speculation that the bank could start winding down its stimulus measures sooner than thought. Statistics agency Eurostat said Friday that its headline rate rose to 1.9 percent over the year to April from 1.5 percent the previous month.

Electrolux profits rise as sales grow across all businesses

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Electrolux, the world's second-largest maker of household appliances, says profit for the three months ending March 31 rose to 1.08 billion kronor ($120 million), up 24 percent from the same period a year earlier. The Swedish company says its sales in the first quarter increased slightly by 2.7 percent to 29 billion kronor ($3.29 billion) as it saw an improvement across all of its businesses.

International arm helps Barclays post solid first-quarter

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Barclays Bank says its international operations helped shore up the company during the first quarter. The London-based group said Friday net income from its core businesses rose to 1.18 billion pounds ($1.53 billion) from 950 million in the same period last year. Barclays International, which includes corporate and investment banking, was a key ingredient behind the increase -- its pretax profit jumped 32 percent to 1.36 billion pounds.

Alex Acosta sworn in as US labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Mike Pence swore in Alex Acosta as the nation's new labor secretary Friday, filling out President Donald Trump's Cabinet as he approaches his 100th day in office. The oath-taking came after the Senate's 60-38 confirmation vote Thursday, in which eight Democrats and one independent joined Republicans in voting yes. "It is about finding and helping and supporting jobs and job growth," Acosta said as his family looked on.

Robotic fruit pickers may help orchards with worker shortage

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Harvesting Washington state's vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. The robotic pickers don't get tired and can work 24 hours a day. "Human pickers are getting scarce," said Gad Kober, a co-founder of Israel-based FFRobotics.

AP FACT CHECK: Claims about Trump's tax plan don't hold up

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Getting to the bottom of President Donald Trump's tax plan is difficult because it exists so far as bullet points on a single page, with no detail. Still, there are reasons to be wary about some of the claims coming out of the White House about it. CLAIM: TAX CUT IS BIGGEST EVER Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in remarks Wednesday, channeled Trump's penchant for exaggeration.

Malaysia's leader: ASEAN seen growing to 4th-largest economy

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The 10-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, could form the world's fourth largest economy by 2030 though work is needed to help small companies and reduce trade barriers, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday. Najib told a business forum on the sidelines of a summit of ASEAN leaders meeting in Manila that the combined size of the group's economies will grow to $9.2 trillion by 2050.

Sony returns to black on healthy chip, game, battery sales

TOKYO (AP) -- Sony Corp. has reported a January-March profit of 27.7 billion yen ($250 million) on the back of healthy sales of image sensors, PlayStation 4 game software and batteries for mobile devices, marking a recovery from its red ink a year ago. Tokyo-based Sony had an 88 billion yen loss the same period last year. Sony reported Friday that its quarterly sales rose 4.4 percent to 1.9 trillion yen ($17 billion).

Honda posts quarterly profit on lower recall costs

TOKYO (AP) -- Honda Motor Co. reported Friday a 95.9 billion yen ($864 million) profit for January-March, a turnaround from the 93.4 billion yen loss it racked up a year earlier, as the Japanese automaker recovers from costs for a massive air-bag recall. Quarterly sales rose 2.9 percent to 3.76 trillion yen ($33.9 billion) from 3.66 trillion yen. The performance exceeded forecasts by analysts at FactSet.

Japan economy's vital signs dull in March, but views upbeat

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan reports that its manufacturing output and household spending fell in March, while the jobless rate remained at a 22-year low. The data released Friday generally were slightly weaker than analysts had forecast, though the outlook for the world's third-largest economy remained upbeat. Here are a few highlights from the data, and their implications: FACTORY OUTPUT: Industrial output fell 2.1 percent from February but was up 3.

Uber self-driving car exec steps aside during Google lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The executive running Uber's self-driving car division is stepping aside while the company defends itself against charges that he provided the project with technology stolen from a Google spinoff. Anthony Levandowski, an autonomous vehicle expert who defected from Google last year, notified Uber's staff of his decision in a Thursday email. The change was made in tandem with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, according to the email.

The Latest: Senate confirms Acosta as Trump's man at labor

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Alex Acosta's confirmation as President Donald Trump's secretary of labor (all times EDT): 6:40 p.m. The Senate has confirmed law school dean Alex Acosta as President Donald Trump's secretary of labor. The 60-38 vote Thursday fills out Trump's Cabinet just ahead of the president's 100th day in office.

Starbucks says Unicorn Frappuccino shows its digital savvy

NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks is pointing to the Unicorn Frappuccino as an example of its digital savvy, and ability to ride out of its sales slump. The coffee chain reported disappointing U.S. sales growth for the first three months of the year on Thursday as customer traffic stalled, and it tempered its profit forecast for the year. Its shares fell nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading.

5 reasons Amazon is experimenting with physical stores

NEW YORK (AP) -- Is the online giant of retail also looking to conquer physical stores? Amazon has been dabbling in physical retail since 2015, during which time it's opened a half-dozen bookstores that double as gadget emporia, a score of campus bookstores that don't sell books and a convenience store without cashiers. For now, its efforts seem largely experimental, though that may not be true for long.