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Survey finds banks loosened standards for business loans

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve said Monday that banks loosened their lending standards modestly for certain business loans over the past three months but kept tight standards on consumer loans.

The Fed said that 12 percent of the banks responding to its latest survey had somewhat eased their standards on commercial and industrial loans.

However, the survey found little change in the tight lending standards imposed on consumer loans since the housing market collapsed.

For the business loans, banks said the slight easing in standards reflected a less uncertain economic outlook and increased competition from other banks to make business loans.

The Fed's survey covered 57 domestic banks. That included all of the nation's largest institutions, which represent the bulk of lending activity in the country.


Chrysler cuts losses

DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler avoided collapse two years ago with the help of a government bailout. Now, lower costs and a fleet of new cars and trucks are moving it closer to profitability.

On Monday, the company posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $199 million, a vast improvement over the $2.7 billion loss a year earlier. Revenue rose 14 percent to $10.8 billion.

It also forecast a profit for 2011.

Chrysler Group LLC's fortunes began to improve in June when its refurbished Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV went on sale. It also has four other completely new models: the 300 big sedan, the Dodge Durango SUV, the Fiat 500 minicar and the Dodge Charger muscle car.


Honda's profits take a hit

TOKYO (AP) -- Honda reported a nearly 40 percent drop in quarterly profit, hit by a strong yen and fading sales in Japan but raised its full-year earnings forecast, crediting cost cuts.

Honda's October-December profit totaled $989 million, down from $1.6 billion the year before, it said Monday.

Quarterly sales slipped nearly 6 percent to $25.7 billion.

A strong yen hurt Tokyo-based Honda's overseas earnings and the end of green car incentives crimped vehicle sales in Japan, offsetting the perk from strong motorcycle sales in Asia.

Honda said vehicle sales fell in Japan, because of the end of government incentives for green models last year, but improved in North America.

Honda's vehicle sales also fell in Europe.


Intel to replace flawed chip

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Intel Corp. on Monday said it has found a design flaw in a recently released chip, and is working with laptop makers to replace affected computers.

Sales lost while the company rushes out a replacement chip, and the cost of replacing computers with the flawed chip, will cost the company $1 billion, it said.

Intel said it's shipped 8 million of the defective chips, but complete PCs with those chips have only been on sale since Jan. 9, so "relatively few" of them have reached consumers. The main processing chips in these computers are branded "Core i5" and "Core i7."

The affected chips aren't the main processors, but a support chip. The flaw means it may degrade with use over a period of months or years, slowing down the transfer of data to and from the computer's hard drives and DVD drives.


Gannett's revenue stays flat

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gannett Co., the country's biggest newspaper publisher, said fourth-quarter earnings grew by 30 percent because of aggressive cost-cutting and a boost from political advertising. But investors focused Monday on the company's stagnant revenue and pushed Gannett shares 3 percent lower.

The publisher of USA Today and 80 other newspapers cut staff, closed plants and got a timely bump from its TV division, which benefited from advertising tied to the November elections.

Gannett earned $174 million, or 72 cents per share, up from $134 million, or 56 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2009. Revenue came in essentially flat at $1.46 billion, roughly in line with average forecast of $1.47 billion.

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