Tesla and other electric car makers are reshaping the global market for lithium, with lithium carbonate prices rising 47% in the first quarter alone compared with last year. The technological and logistical challenges of mining "white petroleum," however, have made meeting the growing demand for the metal difficult.
General Motors confirmed this week that four of its North American plants shut down due to the Japan earthquakes would resume production on May 9. The company said it is working to minimize the impact of both the current parts shortage and the potential effects of future supply disruptions.
The wildfires raging in Alberta have curtailed production in the Canadian oil sands, an engine that even slumping oil prices could not stop. If the fire continues to burn considerably longer, analysts warn the disaster could have a significant effect on Canada's economy.
And finally, the April employment numbers came in at a just 160,000 new jobs, below analyst estimates of 200,000. While the results were generally viewed as disappointing, wages showed small signs of growth.