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Business

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    WASHINGTON – U.S. sales of new homes were nearly flat in September, after the government sharply revised downward what was initially an August surge in buying.New-home sales edged up 0.
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    NEW YORK – The stock market closed out its best week in nearly two years on a positive note Friday, helped by strong quarterly earnings from Microsoft and other big U.S. companies.
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    DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford’s new aluminum-sided F-150 will be a lot lighter and more efficient when it goes on sale this year. But for now, it’s a serious drag on profits.
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Briefs

Jos A. Bank inks deal on outerwear

After months of flirting with the idea of combining with a rival, Jos. A. Bank has decided it is better suited for another men’s clothing brand.

Or has it?

The chain that’s known for its men’s suits and 2-for-1 sales said Friday that it struck a deal to buy the parent company of Eddie Bauer, which sells rugged outerwear. The deal was reached with Everest Topco LLC to buy Everest Holdings LLC in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million.

But the acquisition, which comes as Jos. A. Bank is being pursued by Men’s Wearhouse Inc., isn’t written in stone: Jos. A. Bank said Friday that it may end the Eddie Bauer deal if it receives an acquisition offer that is superior. It would have to pay a termination fee if it accepted another offer.

The deal comes in the middle of an extended courtship between Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse Inc.

Harsh winter snaps factory output boom

Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January. Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production

The Federal Reserve said factory production plunged 0.8 percent in January, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November. Automakers lost days of production because of snowstorms, as their production plummeted 5.1 percent, the report said.

Factory output rose a modest 1.3 percent over the past 12 months.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell 0.3 percent in January.

US closes probe of Chrysler V-8 engines

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed an investigation into engine stalling in some Chrysler cars after the company extended the fuel tank warranty.

The probe covered nearly 154,000 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum cars from 2006. The cars have 5.7-liter or 6.1-liter V-8 engines.

Investigators checked more than 1,200 complaints and found 299 in which the fuel system allowed gas tanks to be over-filled. That caused the cars to stall when stopped or at low speeds.

The problem was traced to a fuel shut-off device that can stick open when exposed to high-ethanol gasoline. Chrysler updated the part in new cars and guaranteed it for life in cars now on the road.

The agency said Friday that the problem is a low risk to safety.

Chinese group lifts bid to win Fisker asset sale

Participants in a bankruptcy auction for failed electric-vehicle maker Fisker Automotive say Chinese auto-parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group quadrupled the cash portion of its bid to $149 million to win the auction.

Two people who took part in the auction said Friday that Wanxiang beat out Hybrid Technology, led by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li. The auction participants spoke on condition of anonymity because an official statement has not yet been released.

Going into the auction, which began Wednesday, Hybrid offered $30 million in cash and cancellation of $25 million in debt it says it is owed as Fisker’s senior secured lender.

Wanxiang had offered $35.7 million in cash and an equity stake for creditors in a reorganized Fisker, with the possibility of additional recoveries for creditors through lawsuits.

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