By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose more than expected in March and a measure of business capital spending plans surged, bolstering views of an acceleration in growth in the second quarter. The Commerce Department said on Thursday durable goods orders increased 2.6 percent as demand rose across all categories. Durable goods, which range from toasters to aircraft and are meant to last three years and more, increased 2.1 percent in February. The end of long-term unemployment benefits and cuts to food stamps have also robbed the economy of momentum.
By Natalie Huet and Benjamin Mallet PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in Alstom jumped more than 14 percent on Thursday after a report that U.S. conglomerate General Electric was in talks to buy the struggling French turbine and train maker for about $13 billion. If confirmed, a takeover offer from a foreign company would raise concern among politicians and unions in France, where Alstom employs around 18,000 staff, or 20 percent of its global workforce. A deal could hand GE control of Alstom's high-speed TGV trains and rail-signal technology, and has the support of Bouygues , Alstom's biggest shareholder with a 29 percent stake, the report said. However, one person familiar with the industry said GE's ultimate aim might be to buy Alstom's power business rather than its power arm - a deal that would leave its transport business as a separate publicly listed company in Paris.
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose in a volatile session on Thursday as Apple and Caterpillar were the latest high-profile names to post bullish results, though gains were limited by a resurgence of concerns related to Ukraine. Markets had opened sharply higher, with the Nasdaq initially climbing more than 1 percent before turning negative in the first half-hour of trading. While Wall Street subsequently recovered, with gains again concentrated in the Nasdaq, it remained well off its early highs. "All those geopolitical concerns warrant instability and higher commodity prices, and both of those are things Wall Street hates." Apple Inc , the most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization, rose 8.1 percent to $567.07 a day after posting revenue that far outpaced expectations, helped by strong iPhone sales.
By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co's first-quarter profit tumbled 88 percent on Thursday due to the massive recall for defective ignition switches, and shares fell 1.3 percent after the company said expectations for the rest of the year must be trimmed. While the company's results topped expectations on strong pricing for its redesigned pickup trucks in North America, it did not raise its full-year outlook by a corresponding amount. GM said in January its 2014 earnings would finish slightly higher. While leaving the outlook for the full year unchanged on Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said the stronger first quarter means the outlook for the rest of the year will have to come down.