Toyota bests General Motors as top of the heap for ’08

THURSDAY, JAN. 22, 2009

Toyota Motor Corp. sold more cars and trucks worldwide than any other automaker last year, seizing the crown General Motors Corp. held for 77 years. But with its overall sales having fallen for the first time in 10 years and the entire industry mired in a slump, there’s little for the Japanese company to celebrate.

GM said Wednesday it sold 8,355,947 cars and trucks around the world in 2008, falling about 616,000 vehicles short of the 8.972 million Toyota announced Tuesday. GM said the shortfall was mainly caused by the economic downturns in the U.S. and Europe that slashed vehicle demand in those major markets, where Toyota doesn’t have as large of a presence.

Toyota’s overall global sales fell 4 percent for 2008, marking that automaker’s first decline in a decade. The Japanese automaker has cut production in both North America and Japan to align its product offerings with slowing consumer demand.

GM posted an 11 percent drop in global sales, including a 21 percent drop in North America.

Sacramento, Calif.

Washington official to take over California’s public pension fund

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, named a new chief investment officer on Wednesday.

Joseph Dear will start in March, when he leaves his job as executive director of the Washington State Investment Board. Dear, 57, worked in the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton administration and was chief of staff to former Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

CalPERS provides guaranteed retirement benefits to 1.6 million state and local government employees and health benefits to about 1.3 million.

As chief investment officer, Dear will direct the $178 billion fund’s investment strategy. The fund has seen dramatic losses as the stock market has plummeted. CalPERS said in December that its portfolio had dropped 31 percent, or about $81.4 billion, since its peak in October 2007.

San Francisco

Intel slashing 6,000 jobs, closing some facilities

Intel Corp. plans to cut up to 6,000 manufacturing jobs as the company struggles with souring personal computer demand that has left its factories operating at less than their full capacity.

Intel said Wednesday that it plans to close three so-called “assembly test” facilities in Malaysia and the Philippines and will halt production at plants in Hillsboro, Ore., and Santa Clara, Calif., where older-style wafers were being produced.

The wafers made at the Oregon and California plants targeted by Intel are smaller than the wafers on which the most cutting-edge chips are built.

From wire reports

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