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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Ford CEO Mulally says he won’t leave for Microsoft

From Wire Reports

DEARBORN, Mich. – Alan Mulally, who was rumored to be in the running to become Microsoft’s next leader, said Tuesday that he won’t leave Ford Motor Co. before the end of 2014.

Mulally is credited with returning Ford to profitability and changing the company’s culture, putting an end to widespread executive infighting.

Mulally was reportedly on the short list of candidates to replace Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft announced in August that Ballmer plans to step down as CEO.

Mulally, 68, was trained as an aeronautical engineer. He spent 36 years at Boeing Co. – and was president of the company’s commercial airplane division – before Ford Chairman Bill Ford lured him to the struggling automaker in 2006.

Short rebound forecast for mining industry

BILLINGS – The U.S. coal mining industry is projected to see a modest and short-lived rebound in 2014, driven by more production in Western states after two successive years of declines.

The Energy Information Administration on Tuesday forecast a 36-million-ton increase in coal production for the year, to 1.04 billion tons. That’s a 3.6 percent increase.

Mining output is projected to fall by more than 25 million tons in 2015. Agency analyst Elias Johnson said that’s because new rules for mercury pollution will kick in, prompting utilities to shutter some coal-burning power plants rather than make costly upgrades.

The mining impacts are expected to be most acute in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, which produces more than 40 percent of U.S. coal.

Consumer confidence goes up in December

WASHINGTON – Americans’ confidence in the economy has jumped since the end of the partial federal government shutdown in October, according to data released Tuesday by Gallup.

The public opinion firm’s economic confidence index rose to minus-19 in December from minus-25 in November.

The monthly average, based on Gallup’s daily tracking interviews, had plunged to minus-35 in October as a partisan standoff in Washington caused many federal agencies to shut down for 16 days.

The December index was back to its September level, Gallup said.

Kraft Foods warns of Velveeta shortage

NEW YORK – Kraft Foods says some customers may not be able to find Velveeta products over the next few weeks but didn’t give any reasons for the shortage.

Kraft spokeswoman only said such shortages happen from time to time. She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of the seasonal demand.

Kraft hasn’t heard from any customers having problems finding the products. The company expects the shortage to be a short-term situation.

Airbus chief to leave over plane crash injuries

HERNDON, Va. – The head of the Airbus unit that handles business in North America is stepping down because of injuries he received in the 2010 Alaska plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens.

Sean O’Keefe, 57, has run the North America unit since 2009, during a time when Europe-based Airbus expanded its U.S. presence. O’Keefe’s tenure included Airbus’ decision to build a new factory in Alabama and its competition to build a new U.S. Air Force tanker, which Airbus ultimately lost to Boeing.

He will be replaced by Allan McArtor, 71, the current chairman of Airbus Americas.

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