U.S. factory production up, more claims in General Motors (GM) ignition switch recall and Apache (APA) selling stake in two natural gas projects.

Markets were heading lower on Monday morning after it was reported that U.S. factory production jumped higher in November. The Federal Reserve announced that production grew 1.1% last month and upwardly revised October’s growth by an additional 0.4%. This data surpassed economists’ expectations of a 0.5% rise for the month. Throughout the last 12 months, there has been a 4.8% gain in manufacturing output. The data has now surpassed the pre-recession high’s set in December 2007. There was a strong boost in domestic sales that was partially attributed to auto production, which gained 5.1% last month. There was also growth in food and wood, plastics and rubber-based products in November. Paul Dales, a senior economist with Capital Economist, said, “The strengthening in domestic demand is offsetting the effects of the weakening global backdrop and the stronger dollar.”

Shares of General Motors Company (GM) were sinking down over 1% after the company reported a rise in claims for their ignition switch defect recall. The company received 64 claims in the last week, which has brought the total amount of claims to 2,326. There have been a total of 251 death claims, 156 for catastrophic injuries and 1,919 for other injuries, which still required hospitalization. As of now, the company has accepted 42 death claims, 7 severe injuries and 51 other injuries that have been eligible to payment. Kenneth Feinberg is the lawyer handling the claims. He has worked on such cases as the compensation funds for the Sept. 11 attacks and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The company has turned down 306 claims so far and said 445 are still under review. There are 568 that have lacked the correct paperwork and 907 claims received that have no paper work.

Shares of Apache Corp. (APA) were on the rise after the company announced that they would be selling their stake in two natural gas projects for $2.75 billion. The two projects they will be exiting are Wheatstone LNG and Kitimat LNG. They have also noted they are considering either a sale or spinoff of their international operations so they can refocus their energy on North American shale wells. Analysts with Simmons & CO said, “This is a big win for Apache. Given the steep fall in oil prices, we were worried that it might take longer to close this deal.”

That’s all for today,

Warren Gates, Normandy Research

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