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Business in brief: Nissan, Chrysler to share vehicles

Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it will make a new small car designed by Chrysler LLC and Chrysler will make a full-size pickup designed by Nissan.

The agreement is part of a growing relationship between Chrysler and the No. 3 Japanese automaker as they attempt to adapt to a U.S. market buffeted by a slowing economy and rising gas prices.

Both products will be sold in North America, and the new Chrysler subcompact also will be sold overseas starting in 2010. No financial details were disclosed.

The new Chrysler small car will be made at Nissan’s Oppama plant in Japan. Chrysler will make the pickup at its plant in Saltillo, Mexico, and it will go on sale in 2011, the companies said.

The Nissan Titan, Nissan’s full-size pickup, will remain on the market until the new pickup goes on sale, said Dominique Thormann, senior vice president for administration and finance at Nissan North America. The Canton, Miss., plant that makes the Titan will start producing commercial vehicles for Nissan, and no jobs will be lost, Thormann said.

Associated Press

New York

Online banking gets good ratings

Banks have been disappointing customers many ways lately – tightening mortgage lending standards, paring home-equity and credit-card lines, and lowering savings interest rates – but they’re getting higher marks for one thing: Web sites.

Customer satisfaction with online banking sites has risen significantly over the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by ForeSee Results. The survey uses the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, and this year the index registered a score of 82 out of 100 for online banking, up 12 percent from a score of 73 in 2003.

The ranking was higher than customers gave banks overall – 78 in 2007 – suggesting they are more pleased with banks’ online operations than with branches and call centers. The score is also strong compared to other arenas: Online retailers, the highest-scoring category measured by the ACSI, recently scored 83.

Associated Press

Prices push up retail spending

Retail sales rose in March, but economists aren’t cheering. Most of the gain came at gas stations, not the malls.

The Commerce Department said Monday retail sales rose 0.2 percent last month, to $381.4 billion. Excluding gas sales, which were pushed up 1.1 percent by rising prices, retail sales were flat.

Soaring grain and dairy prices pushed up the value of sales at food and beverage stores by 0.4 percent.

“Higher gas prices and higher food prices played a big role in giving us a higher (retail sales) number,” says Paul Kasriel, economic research chief at Northern Trust.

On a quarterly basis, retail sales for the first three months of 2008 are the weakest in nearly six years.

Biggest losers: Sales at building materials and supply stores fell 1.6 percent. Sales at furniture stores marked their ninth consecutive monthly decline.

USA Today


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