U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in March as households cut back on purchases of automobiles and other items, further evidence that economic growth stumbled in the first quarter. Other data on Wednesday showed a surprise drop in producer prices last month as rising energy prices were offset by a decline in the cost of services.
The big three U.S. automakers - General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and the U.S. operations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV - reported a jump in September sales on Thursday as cheap gasoline and ultra-low interest rates drove demand for sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
General Motors Co agreed to pay $900 million and admit to misleading the government and the public about the safety of its vehicles to end a U.S. criminal investigation into its handling of defective ignition switches linked to 124 deaths.
Ford Motor Co reported a first-quarter profit that was less than analysts expected, selling fewer vehicles in North America as it worked to increase production of the redesigned F-150 pickup truck, and losing money in South America.