Last updated: July 15. 2013 11:42PM - 679 Views

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A mixed sign for economic growth

Americans spent more at retail businesses in June, buying more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes. But consumers cut back on many other purchases, a mixed sign for economic growth.

The Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales rose 0.4 percent in June from May, after a 0.5 percent increase the previous month.

Sales rose in June largely because of a 1.8 percent increase in auto purchases, the biggest since November. Higher gas prices also pushed service station sales up 0.7 percent.

Still, excluding the volatile categories of autos, gas and building supplies, so-called core retail sales rose just 0.15 percent. That’s the weakest since January.

Americans spent less at department stores and restaurants in June. They bought fewer computers and electronics. And sales at home improvement stores, such as Home Depot, dropped 2.2 percent — although those sales are up nearly 10 percent over the past year.

Gas deal means lower cost for airlines

Airlines are paying a little less to operate out of Pittsburgh International Airport these days, thanks to the potentially lucrative contract awarded last winter to mine the land for shale gas.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority cut the airlines’ cost per enplanement by 55 cents, from $14.66 to $14.11 on July 1, the first fruit from a $46.3 million lease bonus payment received as part of a 20-year deal with Consol Energy for drilling on airport land.

The authority expects to use a portion of the bonus payment each year to cut costs to the airlines. Based on the 55-cent reduction this year, the carriers could see the cost per enplanement slashed by nearly $3 over five years.

In addition, the authority will receive annual royalties of 18 percent on all proceeds from oil, gas and hydrocarbon production on the land. The county estimates that could generate $500 million to $700 million over the life of the lease.

Honeywell joins 787 investigation

The maker of an emergency transmitter for Boeing’s 787 says it has joined the U.K. investigation into last week’s fire on one of the planes.

Honeywell International Inc. spokesman Steve Brecken declined to confirm why authorities asked Honeywell to participate. But the disclosure follows several media reports that investigators are looking at the emergency transmitter locater, which is supplied by Honeywell.

Brecken says the transmitters have been used on many planes since 2005, and have not had any issues.

U.K. authorities investigating the fire say it took place in a part of the plane away from the 787’s large lithium-ion batteries. Those battery systems had to be redesigned after two incidents in January, including one that involved a fire.

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