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BUSINESS BRIEFS

February 13, 2011
Salem News

Area auto sales see strong start

WARREN - Area auto dealers in January started the new year with a bang, exceeding the 2,000-sale mark for new vehicles for only the second time in nearly 1 1/2 years, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Aided by another strong sales month by the Chevrolet Cruze, dealers in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties were credited with 2,009 title registrations of new cars and trucks, the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio said.

The total was the most since 2,038 registrations last August. The recession's high-water mark of 2,246 was reached in August 2009 during the Cash-for-Clunkers government incentive program.

January's total was 61.9 percent better than January 2010, when 1,241 new-vehicle titles were registered in county offices.

Used-vehicle sales rose 8.1 percent to 2,743 from 2,537 last year.

Many dealers posted triple-digit percentage gains, led by Columbiana Buick Cadillac Chevrolet's 247.1 percent gain to 118 new sales from 34 a year ago.

Diane Sauer Chevrolet recorded the second largest percentage gain, 211.1 percent to 112 new sales, good for fourth best in the association.

Sweeney Chevrolet led all dealers in sales with 146, a rise of 114.7 percent.

The Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze posted 163 sales, by far its best month locally since its official launch Sept. 8. Only the Chevrolet Malibu sold more at 204.

The Chevrolet Equinox was third with 91 sales, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup truck with 80. The Ford Focus was fifth with 74 sales.

Chevrolet bagged the sales crown with a whopping margin of 717 sales to 256 for runner-up Ford. Honda was third with 159, with Toyota fourth at 82.

Report: GM to pay $3,000 in bonuses

DETROIT - Hourly workers at General Motors Co. could get $3,000 or more in profit-sharing this year, their biggest checks ever, according to a newspaper report.

The Detroit company, just a year and a half out of bankruptcy protection, made $4.2 billion in the first three quarters of this year and is expected to post a fourth-quarter profit in the coming weeks.

GM is scheduled to tell the United Auto Workers union this week how much each of its 45,000 hourly workers will get, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the plan that it did not identify.

About 4,800 UAW members build Chevrolet Cruze small cars at the General Motors Co. Lordstown Complex.

GM spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter told The Associated Press that the profit sharing figure has not been finalized. Messages were left with a UAW spokeswoman.

Previously, the largest payment GM made was $1,775 in 1999 when the company made just over $6 billion during the pickup truck and sport utility vehicle boom.

The UAW will begin contract negotiations with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC this summer, and the master contracts with all three companies expire in September. Union President Bob King has said the UAW will seek a share of the company's profits after giving concessions since 2005.

In January, Ford Motor Co. announced its U.S. hourly workers would get $5,000 profit-sharing checks, above what the company was required to pay under a formula in the UAW contract. Ford posted a $2.7 billion annual profit last year.

Chrysler paid its hourly workers $750 to recognize their work, even though the company lost $652 million in 2010.

GM needed a $49.5 billion federal bailout to survive its 2009 bankruptcy filing.

Reopening of Egypt Exchange put off

CAIRO (AP) - The regulator of Egypt's stock market says the resumption of trading has been put off by three more days.

The regulator says the market will reopen Wednesday, instead of Sunday, as initially anticipated. Saturday's statement said more consultations with brokers and companies are needed.

The exchange was closed Jan. 28, three days the outbreak of an uprising that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

In the two days before the closure, the market's benchmark EGX30 index had dropped almost 17 percent.

The crisis has rattled international investors, prompting an exodus of foreign funds and raising worries about sharp fluctuations when the market reopens. Communications and banking services have largely been restored.

MBA grads start social site ''shizzlr.com''

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Nick Jaensch and Keith Bessette know that 500 million online friends and $1.5 billion raised from investors are for that other online social network.

The two University of Connecticut MBAs have instead received $350,000 in private and state money to develop shizzlr.com, a corner of the Internet dedicated to college students and 20-somethings.

''Facebook is for every person you've met or have come across,'' Jaensch said. ''Shizzlr is for your actual 20 friends and the people you hang out with.''

Jaensch, who is 24, and Bessette, 31, raised $200,000 from friends and family and $150,000 from Connecticut Innovations, the state's venture investment agency.

Shizzlr is intended to informally bring together friends who text message social plans. Users opt in those they want to include and see what they are doing.

''Everybody is involved in a group message, everyone is up-to-date and everyone can give their input,'' Jaensch said. ''We're changing the norm about how people make plans.''

A few thousand users already have signed up and Jaensch hopes that will grow to 50,000 by May. He said the business model for the site could be the review site, yelp.com, where businesses pay to highlight their market.

Or shizzlr could sell to merchants user data such as trends about who is visiting a business and why, he said. Such data would help merchants tailor product sales.

Jaensch said he and Bessette will market the website in campus newspapers to student groups, athletic clubs and other organizations.

Obama likens budget to family pocketbook choices

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he is making difficult cuts in the nation's budget to allow needed spending increases in education, technology and public works projects.

In a broad preview of his administration's blueprint for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, Obama says the combination of cuts and new spending will result in an overall freeze in annual domestic spending for the next five years.

''This budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future,'' the president said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. The White House plans to release his budget on Monday.

With public opinion turning against increased spending, Obama is making a concerted sales pitch to cast his initiatives as fiscally prudent.

But efforts to tame deficits while adding dollars to selected projects come as the government faces a projected $1.5 trillion deficit this budget year. Republicans are demanding greater deficit reduction efforts and members of the House GOP say they want to cut the current 2011 budget year by $61 billion.

Obama, in his address, recounted the struggles of a Missouri family - David and Brenda Breece - who have faced difficult financial times by living frugally so they can continue to pay for their daughter's college tuition.

''So Brenda and her husband know what they can do without,'' Obama said. ''But they also know what investments are too important to sacrifice.''

The White House projects that the five-year freeze will save $400 billion over 10 years. Cost-saving measures include a two-year freeze on wages for civilian federal workers. The budget also would make cuts in some cherished programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which could be trimmed in half - by about $2.5 billion. The Energy Department plans to propose cutting the Office of Fossil Energy by 45 percent, or $418 million.

The Pentagon's budget would see reductions of $78 billion.

 
 

 

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