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Chrysler plans to close all 30 production plants for month

Chrysler plans to close all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month starting Friday and ending Jan. 19. The company said it needs to match production to slowing demand and conserve cash. Tighter credit markets are keeping would-be buyers away from its showrooms, Chrysler said. Dealers are unable to close sales for buyers because of a lack of financing, and they estimate that 20 percent to 25 percent of their volume has been lost as a result of the credit situation. Meanwhile, Ford, which has two plants in Louisville, said it would shut down 10 of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January. Spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said the normal two-week holiday shutdown will be extended to Jan. 12 at all operating assembly plants except those in Claycomo, Mo., near Kansas City, and the Dearborn, Mich., truck plant.

GM delays engine plant for Volt, Cruze

General Motors Corp., which is trying to conserve cash while it awaits a government bailout, will delay construction of a Flint, Mich., factory that will build engines for the Chevrolet Cruze small car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car. A spokeswoman said the company still plans to bring the vehicles to showrooms in 2010.

Morgan Stanley loses $2.37 billion

Morgan Stanley said Wednesday it lost $2.37 billion during its fiscal fourth quarter as it took a range of losses on assets. The firm lost $2.34 a share for the quarter that ended Nov. 30. It lost $3.61 billion, or $3.61 a share, during the year-ago period when it took a $9.4 billion write-down on mortgage-related assets as the housing crisis began to spiral. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, had forecast a loss of 34 cents a share. Among the charges and losses were its fixed-income division, which reported losses of $1.2 billion. Morgan Stanley took an additional $1.1 billion in other sales and trading losses tied to acquisition financing and write-downs on securities held by subsidiary banks. An additional $1.8 billion was lost on investments in real estate funds, principal investments and those tied to benefits for employee deferred compensation.

Aetna to eliminate 1,000 jobs

Health insurer Aetna Inc. says it will eliminate 1,000 jobs, or 2.8 percent of its work force, to reduce costs. The company says it will take a charge of $35 million in the fourth quarter along with the moves. It says the job cuts will allow it to reduce administrative expenses and focus on areas with greater potential growth, but it did not specify what business areas or regions will be involved. Aetna — the third-largest U.S. health insurer — employs 36,208 people. It has 37.2 million members.

Western Digital plans cuts, closures

Hard-drive maker Western Digital Corp. said Tuesday it plans to cut 2,500 jobs, or 5 percent of its global work force, and will reduce executive pay. Western Digital said demand for the current quarter is "significantly below" what it expected. The company plans to reduce compensation by an unspecified amount for its executive officers, board of directors and senior management. It will also stop its manufacturing operations from Dec. 20 through Jan. 1, reduce manufacturing hours by 20 percent through employee attrition, and trim its use of temporary workers and overtime shifts. It is closing one of its three hard-drive factories in Thailand and will close or sell one of two facilities in Malaysia. The measures, to be completed by the end of March, are expected to save $150 million a year.

Motorola freezing pension, more

Blaming the economy, cell-phone maker Motorola Inc. said Wednesday it will permanently freeze its U.S. pension plans, temporarily suspend matching 401(k) contributions and reduce the base salary of its two co-executives by 25 percent. It will also freeze the salaries of an unspecified number of other employees in many of its markets.

Nike profit grows on overseas sales

Shoe and apparel company Nike Inc. said Wednesday that despite weak domestic sales, its profit grew 9 percent during the second quarter on strong sales overseas. The company reported its net income rose to $391 million, or 80 cents a share, compared with net income of $359.4 million, or 71 cents a share, for the same quarter last year. Total revenue grew 6 percent to $4.6 billion, from $4.3 billion last year.

General Mills' profit beats expectations

Cereal maker General Mills Inc. said Wednesday its second-quarter profit slipped 3 percent, but adjusted results beat expectations as more shoppers reached for its Yoplait Yogurt, Cheerios and Progresso Soup brands. The company said earnings for the quarter that ended Nov. 23 fell to $378.2 million, or $1.09 a share, from $390.5 million, or $1.14 a share, last year. But excluding charges on commodity positions and a gain on the sale of its Pop Secret microwave popcorn business, profit totaled $1.36 a share. Revenue rose 8 percent to $4.01 billion. The results beat estimates of analysts, who on average had predicted profit of $1.23 a share on revenue of $4 billion.

International

Woolworths closure is set for Jan. 5

Woolworths could be closed down for good by Jan. 5 at a cost of 27,000 jobs if no one comes forward before that date to buy the collapsed British retailer's stores, its administrators said Wednesday. Deloitte, which was appointed to run Woolworths after it filed for bankruptcy protection last month, said talks were going on with potential buyers for parts of the group's 800-plus chain of stores. Neville Kahn, joint administrator of Woolworths, said talks about a potential sale had never been close to a deal.

Compiled from Staff, wire reports

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