SC business notebook, May 7

May 7, 2014 

BMW plans rollouts for its new vehicles

BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said Tuesday the company plans to roll out the updated X3 sports activity vehicle this month, followed by the new X4 sports activity coupe in July. Both are under production at BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer, the German automaker’s only assembly plant in the United States, and the rollout dates had not been previously announced, according to Kenn Sparks, spokesman for BMW of North America. Reithofer made the announcement as BMW released first-quarter financials, a rosy report that showed an earnings rise of 11 percent that beat analysts’ expectations. The Munich company said its earnings climbed to 1.46 billion euros ($2.03 billion) for the January-through-March period, compared with earnings of 1.31 billion euros for the same quarter in 2013. The consensus forecast by analysts covering BMW was 1.35 billion euros, according to FactSet, a financial information provider. BMW said its profits rose from “increasingly friendly market conditions in the first quarter of 2014, particularly in Europe.” The company said sales were robust for its bread-and-butter models — the 3 Series and 5 Series sedans — as well as the third generation of the X5 sports activity vehicle made in the Upstate, which hit dealer showrooms last fall.

Companies report weaker earnings; stocks react

Stocks closed lower following weaker earnings from U.S. companies. Home builders fell after data provider CoreLogic reported that housing prices rose in March at a slower pace than a month earlier, the latest sign of weakness in the housing market. Twitter plunged 18 percent after insiders were allowed to sell stock for first time since the company’s initial public offering in November. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 129 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 16,401 Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 16 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,867. The Nasdaq composite fell 57 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,080.

Senate nearing showdown on pipeline

The Senate moved closer to a showdown over the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline Tuesday, as a related energy bill cleared an early procedural hurdle. Senators voted 79-20 to take up an energy efficiency bill that Keystone supporters want to amend with language authorizing immediate construction of the proposed pipeline from Canada to the United States. Despite the vote, the two parties were still arguing over whether to allow amendments to the measure, including one by Keystone supporters that would end years of delay by the Obama administration on whether to approve the pipeline.

The Greenville News and The Associated Press contributed.

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