Facing new competition from low-cost countries, the sector faces a tough future.
The upgrades include more modern interiors and some dealers might also open cafes or salons.
Apple has temporarily blocked Motorola's attempt to have it withdraw iPhone and iPad models from its Internet store in Germany.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish appliance maker Electrolux AB saw its profits plunge in the fourth quarter in an increasingly competitive market as the pressure on prices increased and the sector was hit by higher raw-material costs and weaker demand. Electrolux reported Thursday a net profit of just 6 million kronor ($885,000) in the fourth quarter, far below the 860 million posted in the same three-month period a year ago.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The steel wire company Bekaert has announced it is shedding 1,250 jobs in China and 600 in its Belgian home base to face market uncertainty and bad economic times. The company said Thursday it is downsizing its operations and 11,000-strong staff in China following low demand for sawing wire, overcapacity and a drop in prices.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Apple Inc. says it has withdrawn several iPhone and iPad models from its Internet store in Germany because of a legal dispute with Motorola Mobility. The move is in response to a ruling Motorola won against Ireland-based Apple Sales International Inc., from a court in Mannheim, Germany.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories rose in December, supported by a rebound in business investment in capital goods such as heavy machinery. The results cap off another strong year for U.S. manufacturing. Combined with strong figures released Thursday on job growth in January, they signal the economic recovery is gathering strength.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — A central Kentucky Toyota manufacturing plant will get a moment in the Super Bowl spotlight when it is featured in a 60-second ad scheduled to run during the pregame show. The commercial opens with scenes of the state's bluegrass countryside covered by an early morning fog.
TORONTO (AP) — Caterpillar Inc. said Friday it will close its locomotive plant in Canada, where workers have been locked out since the start of the year. Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services said in a statement that the cost structure of the Electro-Motive plant was not sustainable and efforts to negotiate a new labor agreement failed.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish truck maker AB Volvo recorded a 46 percent rise in fourth-quarter profits after a surge in sales it described as the best it has seen in more than two decades. The company said Friday that its net profit shot up to 4.7 billion ($700 million) in the three-month period, up drastically from 3.
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil may end a decade-old automotive trade pact with Mexico and start charging tariffs on cars imported from that country as it battles a growing trade deficit in the sector, the government and local media said Thursday. The 2002 agreement for the import and export of cars and parts with Mexico "is being reviewed," said trade secretary Tatiana Prazeres, according to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade's press office.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to a level that signaled a steadily improving job market. The figures came one day before the government is expected to report that January marked another solid month for hiring. Unemployment applications fell 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
BELVIDERE, Ill. (AP) — Chrysler said Thursday that it is hiring 1,800 new workers and increasing production at its plant in Belvidere, a once-dominant manufacturing area that now has the state's highest unemployment rate and has been battered by the economic downturn. The news, some said, should provide both financial and psychological boosts to a region — including nearby Rockford — more accustomed to headlines about layoffs and closures.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The union representing locked-out employees at American Crystal Sugar. Co. plans to lobby against the federal sugar program in Congress, breaking a tradition of fighting for the program alongside farmers and the company. John Riskey, president of the local affiliated with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, said it is a necessary response to Crystal's strategy since Aug.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — New safety rules will not be approved any time soon even though they could prevent accidents like the ones last year at a Tennessee metal powders plant, where fireballs fueled by iron dust contributed to five deaths. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is developing rules that would require many industries to better control combustible dust hazards.
The Dow Chemical Co. is feeling the impact of the slowing European economy, and seeing some weakness in North America as well. And the nation's largest chemical maker doesn't expect to see much improvement in overall demand until the second quarter. That's when it believes stronger economies in the United States and emerging countries will offset continued weakness in Europe, which is embroiled in a crippling debt crisis.
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue says Caterpillar Inc. will expand its manufacturing plant in Clayton, adding almost 200 jobs over five years and investing $33 million. Perdue said Wednesday that two state grants are partially responsible for Caterpillar's decision to expand in Johnston County.
DETROIT (AP) — Factory workers at Chrysler will get profit-sharing checks of about $1,500 next month as they share in the automaker's improbable turnaround. About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments under Chrysler's contract with the United Auto Workers union that was signed last fall.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Figuring out how to pack a processor and other electronics into a machine gun bullet has been a challenge for engineers at Sandia National Laboratories, so weapons experts say the miniature guidance system the lab has developed is a breakthrough. Three years in the making, the bullet prototype represents another step toward a next-generation battlefield that scientists and experts expect to be saturated with technology and information.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Workers were more efficient in the final three months of last year, although their gains in productivity slowed from the previous quarter. Slower productivity growth can be a good sign for hiring if economic growth picks up. The Labor Department said Thursday that worker productivity rose at a 0.