Economy Briefs

RECALL

Chrysler recalls 286,000 pickup trucks

DETROIT | Chrysler Group LLC will recall about 286,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks because of potential problems with tie rod assemblies that may increase the risk of a crash, the automaker and U.S. safety regulators said Wednesday.

To be recalled are 2008 to 2011 Ram 2500 and 3500 4x4 models; 2008 to 2011 Ram 3500 Cab Chassis 4x2 models; 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4x4 models; and 2003 to 2008 Ram 2500 and 3500 models, according to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

About 243,000 of the recalled trucks are in the United States. Of those, about 74,000 already have received service on the tie rod assembly, the NHTSA filing said.

Also, about 35,000 pickups in Canada will be recalled as well as some 2,750 in Mexico and 5,700 in other countries.

A Chrysler spokesman said there have been a few crashes and at least one minor injury as a result of the issue.

MINNESOTA

Brewing giant is casualty of state government shutdown

MINNEAPOLIS | Miller, Coors and other popular beers may disappear from Minnesota stores and bars within days because brewing giant MillerCoors lacks the proper licenses because of the state’s government shutdown.

MillerCoors has 39 “brand label registrations” with the state that expired last month, and the employees who process renewals were laid off when state government shut down July 1 in a budget dispute, Doug Neville, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safetys said Wednesday.

State alcohol enforcement officials - who remain on the job recently - told officials with Chicago-based MillerCoors LLC that they need to come up with a plan soon for pulling their products, Mr. Neville said.

MillerCoors spokesman Julian Green said the brewer still hopes to resolve the dispute through discussions with state alcohol regulators, but it didn’t rule out legal action.

NEW YORK

Newspaper to pay off Carlos Slim debt early

NEW YORK | The New York Times Co. will repay a $250 million, high-interest loan from Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim earlier than expected, allowing the company to reduce interest payments.

Companies affiliated with Mr. Slim, a shareholder of the Times Co., lent the money at a hefty 14 percent interest rate at the height of the recession in January 2009. It came at a time when credit markets were tight and revenue prospects were bleak because of declines in print advertising.

Since then, the Times Co. has found other sources of cash, including the sale of $225 million in notes late last year at a lower rate of about 6.6 percent. The company also sold most of its midtown Manhattan headquarters for $225 million and is leasing the offices instead. Print advertising revenue remains weak, but the company’s flagship newspaper has begun charging for full access to its website.

GREECE

Country downgraded to one step above default

ATHENS | Greece suffered another sovereign downgrade on Wednesday, when the Fitch Ratings agency slashed its credit worthiness by three notches further into junk status and only one grade above default.

The agency cut Greece’s rating from “B+” to “CCC,” bringing it broadly in line with the other two major agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, which had downgraded the country’s bonds to a similar level last month.

Greece relies on loans from a $155 billion international bailout from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, and discussions are under way for a second bailout to keep the country’s crisis from destabilizing larger European economies.

However, no decisions have been made on how much more help Greece will get or in what way private holders of Greek bonds could contribute toward easing repayments. Credit ratings agencies have warned they could consider a voluntary rollover of Greek debt as a form of default.

ITALY

Country to bolster austerity plan

MILAN | Italy will strengthen its package of austerity measures and fast-track its approval by parliament, Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti pledged Wednesday as he sought to calm market fears that the eurozone’s third-largest economy would be swept into the European debt crisis.

Italy’s move to intensify its austerity drive received a much-needed boost from Fitch Ratings agency, which said the measures will help stabilize the government’s finances and its credit rating. Fitch is the last ratings agency to weigh in on Italy’s finances, after Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s both warned of possible downgrades.

Italian lawmakers were working to bolster the $67 billion in austerity measures that begin to take effect this year and aim to balance the budget by 2014.

The Senate is set to vote Thursday before passing off to the lower house Friday in votes that will measure confidence in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

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