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Thursday PM February 3rd, 2011

Mexico says it can’t provide electricity to help Texas weather the cold…Small businesses expect to boost hiring in 2011…U.S. productivity hits 8-year high…Factory orders, service sector activity and retail sales all rising


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Mexico now says it cannot provide electricity to Texas to help the state weather an ice storm that forced rolling blackouts. Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission said yesterday it had agreed to transmit 280 megawatts of electricity to Texas. But today, the commission said it was temporarily suspending the transfer because below-freezing temperatures in northern Mexico had affected the generating capacity of some its own plants. Mexico’s says the cold weather caused a reduction of about 1,000 megawatts in generation. Rolling blackouts have been implemented across Texas, including in Super Bowl host city Dallas, due to high demand during the rare ice storm.

Small business managers are expecting hiring activity within their organizations to improve in 2011, but say it will likely be hindered by continued challenges related to accessing credit. That’s according to a nationwide survey from online job site CareerBuilder. The survey finds 21% of small businesses plan to add full-time employees in 2011. Fourteen percent say they won’t be able to maintain current productivity levels without new hiring, stating workers are already burned out. Eighteen percent say they were unable to access the credit needed to support their businesses in 2010. Eight percent say it’s unlikely they can stay in business if they can’t access credit needed this year.

CareerBuilder’s findings come as the Labor Department announces productivity rose last year at the fastest pace in eight years. Economists say the two-year surge in productivity is coming to an end as companies exhaust their ability to squeeze more output out of depleted work forces.

The Commerce Department says factory orders increased 0.2% in December pushed up by stronger demand from businesses for machinery and communications equipment. The Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group, says its index of service sector activity rose for the 14th straight month. Retailers are reporting surprisingly solid January revenue gains despite snowstorms that many feared would chill spending.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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