Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:
GM: General Motors Co. and its local Chinese partners have launched a second plant to make cars for its local discount brand Baojun, ratcheting up the battle for customers at the fast-growing lower end of the world’s biggest auto market.
The SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture opened the factory on Sunday in southwestern Guangxi province. GM and its partners have invested ¥8 billion ($1.3 billion) in the facility, which will be capable of turning out up to 400,000 vehicles a year.
The joint venture is also building a powertrain factory at the plant that will be able to produce up to 400,000 engines annually. It’s scheduled to open in September 2013.
China surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest auto market by vehicles sold in 2009 but slowing sales growth has prompted global automakers to look for new ways to tap the faster-growing low end of the Chinese market in smaller cities and the countryside.
The SAIC-GM-Wuling is focused on making mini-trucks and microvans.
Lowes: Lowe’s Cos.’ said Monday that its third-quarter net income surged 76 percent, helped by lower costs and higher revenue, as the company’s efforts to revamp its merchandise and prices appeared to be gaining traction.
Its adjusted earnings without charges and its revenue both beat Wall Street forecasts. Its shares rose more than 4 percent in premarket trading Monday.
Lowe’s has been retooling its pricing strategy, and last summer returned to offering permanent low prices on many items across the store, instead of offering fleeting discounts. But the changes have been slow to catch on, and last quarter Lowe’s said it could take until the middle of next year to reap the benefits of the strategy.
Greece: A day before it hopes to secure release of a vital rescue loan payment, the Greek government has presented emergency legislation to tidy up the last loose ends in its austerity commitments to bailout creditors.
The two legislative acts published Monday must be approved by Parliament within 40 days.
They cover spending cuts and reforms, from increasing state spending accountability to reducing the pensions of Parliament employees – a pampered group of state employees that includes politicians’ relatives.
On Tuesday, finance ministers from Greece’s euro partners are expected to decide whether to release a €31.5 billion ($40.2 billion) loan installment.
Earlier this month, the government passed a new massive austerity program demanded to qualify for the loan.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras says Athens has now met all necessary requirements.
Credit Card Debt: Americans cranked up their use of credit cards in the third quarter, racking up more debt than a year ago, while also being less diligent about making payments on time, an analysis of consumer-credit data shows.
The average credit card debt per borrower in the U.S. grew 4.9 percent in the July-to-September period from a year earlier to $4,996, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Monday.
At the same time, the rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue hit 0.75 percent, up from 0.71 percent in the third quarter of last year, the firm said.
While higher, the late payment rate is rising from historically low levels. The lowest late payment rate on TransUnion records going back to the mid-1990s was 0.56 percent, set in the third quarter of 1994. More recently, it was at 0.60 percent in the second quarter of last year.
U.S. Futures: Stock futures are rising on strong quarterly earnings from U.S. corporations and optimism that a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff can be reached before Jan. 1.
Dow Jones industrial futures are up 57 points to 12,627. The broader S&P futures have added 7.2 points to 1,367. Nasdaq futures are up 15.5 points to 2,548.50.
Home improvement company Lowe’s said Monday that its third-quarter profit surged 76 percent. That follows a quarterly report from Home Depot last week, which raised its outlook for the year.
Tyson Foods, the country’s largest meat company, easily topped Wall Street expectations Monday for its fourth quarter earnings.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said over the weekend that she’s hopeful lawmakers can reach a deal on the budget and avoid crippling tax hikes and budget cuts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.