Business site - Financial industry, Earnings & Economic

Toyota to recall all 2,800 Mirai fuel cell cars on the road


TOKYO Toyota Motor Corp (7203. T) said on Wednesday it was recalling all of the roughly 2,800 zero-emission Mirai cars on the road due to problems with the output voltage generated by their fuel cell system. Toyota said that under unique driving conditions, such as if the accelerator pedal is depressed to the wide open throttle position after driving on a long descent while using cruise control, there was a possibility the output voltage generated by the fuel cell boost converter could exceed the maximum voltage. To date, Toyota has sold about 2,840 Mirai cars in Japan, the United States and some markets in Europe, as well as the United Arab Emirates.

Toyota dealers will update the fuel cell system software at no cost to the customer, it said. The process will take about half an hour, it said.

Toyota first began selling the hydrogen-fueled Mirai in December 2014 in Japan, its home market, in a bid to lead the industry in the nascent technology. Toyota has promoted fuel cell vehicles as the most sensible next-generation option to hybrids, although a lack of hydrogen fuelling stations remains a major hurdle for mass consumption.

U.S. data points to strengthening domestic demand and inflation


U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in January as households bought electronics and a range of other goods, pointing to sustained domestic demand that should bolster economic growth in the first quarter. The economy's improving prospects were also underscored by other data on Wednesday showing consumer prices last month recording their biggest increase in nearly four years and manufacturing output rising steadily. The reports came a day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appeared to put an interest rate hike next month on the table."The U.S. economy has quite a bit of momentum as the year began," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. "This morning's reports add a little more impetus for the Fed to move this quarter. Still not our call but it is becoming very interesting."The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month. December's retail sales were revised up to show a 1.0 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent advance. Sales rose despite motor vehicle purchases posting their biggest drop in 10 months. Compared to January last year retail sales were up 5.6 percent. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.4 percent after a similar gain in December. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Economists had forecast retail sales ticking up 0.1 percent and core sales gaining 0.3 percent last month. The dollar rose to a one-month high versus a basket of currencies on the data, while prices for U.S. government bonds fell. U.S. stocks were little changed. January's fairly strong retail sales supported views that economic growth will accelerate in the first quarter. The economy grew at a 1.9 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter. The Atlanta Fed is currently forecasting the economy growing at a 2.7 percent annualized rate in this quarter.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index jumped 0.6 percent last month, the largest increase since February 2013, after gaining 0.3 percent in December. The surge in the CPI reflected increases in gasoline, apparel and motor vehicle prices among others. In the 12 months through January, the CPI increased 2.5 percent, the biggest year-on-year gain since March 2012. The CPI rose 2.1 percent in the year to December. Inflation is trending higher as prices for energy goods and other commodities rebound as global demand picks up. INFLATION CLIMBING

The so-called core CPI, which strips out food and energy costs, rose 0.3 percent last month after increasing 0.2 percent in December. That lifted the year-on-year core CPI increase to 2.3 percent in January from December's 2.2 percent increase. The Fed has a 2 percent inflation target and tracks an inflation measure which is currently at 1.7 percent. Strengthening domestic demand together with firming inflation and a tightening labor market could allow the Fed to raise interest rates at least twice this year. Yellen told lawmakers on Tuesday that "waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise." The U.S. central bank has forecast three rate increases this year. The Fed hiked its overnight interest rate last December by 25 basis points to a range of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent. A third report from the Fed showed manufacturing production increased 0.2 percent in January after a similar increase in December. Output at mines shot up 2.8 percent, with oil and gas well drilling increasing further.

Retail sales last month were buoyed by a 1.6 percent jump in sales at electronics and appliances stores. That was the biggest rise since June 2015 and followed a 1.1 percent drop in December. Receipts at building material stores increased 0.3 percent. Sales at clothing stores jumped 1.0 percent, the largest rise in nearly a year. Department store sales climbed 1.2 percent, the biggest increase since December 2015. Department store sales have been undercut by online retailers, led by Amazon.com