Business news

Factory activity starts year strong


WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing activity grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders, and builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth consecutive month.

The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

Separately, the Commerce Department said spending on construction projects rose 1.5 percent in December. That pushed spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $816.4 billion, the highest level in 20 months.

Kodak wants its name off theater

LOS ANGELES — Eastman Kodak eased away from the Hollywood spotlight on Wednesday, asking to have its name removed from the theater that is the home of the Oscars.

The company has asked a U.S. bankruptcy court to void an estimated $4 million-a-year contract and remove its name on the Kodak Theatre as the company tries to preserve cash and restructure operations.

Kodak said that it was filing a motion to reject the contract and that the theater should take steps to remove Kodak’s naming rights and the signs.

– From wire reports