Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:
Jobless Claims: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits surged last week.
“Economists view the recent numbers with skepticism. They note that the government struggles to adjust the data to reflect temporary summertime layoffs in the auto industry,” the Associated Press reasons.
“And this year, many automakers are foregoing the typical shutdowns because stronger sales have kept plants busier. That has made the process even more difficult,” the report adds.
Really? Something tell us that if these numbers were low, the AP report wouldn’t be so skeptical of the data.
The Labor Department says applications rose by 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. The increase reversed a big drop the previous week.
Ford: Ford is telling some buyers of 2013 Escape small SUVs not to drive them because the engines can catch fire.
The company is recalling 11,500 Escapes in the U.S. and Canada because the fuel lines can crack and leak. The recall affects only models with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines that were built from early April through July 11 this year.
Ford is taking the unusual step of picking up the SUVs and leaving loaner cars with customers. The company says it has three reports of fires, two at the factory and one while a customer was driving an Escape. No one was injured.
About 4,800 defective Escapes were sold. The rest are on dealer lots and will be repaired.
Ford says customers should call dealers to get the problem fixed.
Oil: Oil prices rose above $91 a barrel for the first time since May after the U.S. government said oil demand is on the rise and amid rising tensions in the Middle East.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude was up $1.18 at $91.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 65 cents to settle at $89.87 per barrel in New York on Wednesday.
In London, Brent crude was up 76 cents at $105.92 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
U.S. Futures: U.S. stock futures are following global markets higher as earnings from major corporations dispel fears of a sharp downturn in the economy.
While some financial companies are still struggling, including Morgan Stanley which posted a sizeable decline in revenue for its second quarter, airlines and tech companies are faring well given the slow economic rebound.
Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 55 points to 12,915. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures are up 5.6 points to 1,372.90 and Nasdaq futures have tacked on 14 points to 2,634.
IBM posted a 6 percent jump in profit Wednesday. Southwest Airlines said Thursday that its profit soared 42 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.