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Briefs

GM recalls Saturns for shifter flaw

General Motors is recalling nearly 60,000 Saturn Aura midsize cars because the automatic transmission shift levers can show the wrong gear. It says it has known about the problem for more than two years.

The problem, caused by failure of the transmission shift cable, has led to 28 crashes and four injuries but no deaths during the past seven years, GM said in a statement issued Tuesday. The Auras can roll away unexpectedly because the driver may think the car is in park when it’s in gear.

In November 2011, GM covered the cars with an extended 10-year, 120,000-mile warranty because of the problem. But drivers had to experience trouble with their shifters for the coverage to kick in. At that time, GM thought the extended warranty was sufficient to handle the problem, spokesman Alan Adler said.

GM is already dealing with the delayed recall of 2.6 million small cars over a deadly ignition switch problem. Two congressional committees, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating how GM handled that problem, which it knew about for at least a decade before deciding to recall the cars in February.

GM says at least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the switch problem, but at least 53 wrongful-death lawsuits are pending against the company.

Trade deficit drops 3.6 percent in March

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in March as exports rebounded to the second-highest level on record, led by strong gains in sales of aircraft, autos and farm goods.

The deficit declined to $40.4 billion, down 3.6 percent from a revised February imbalance of $41.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The February deficit had been the biggest trade gap in five months.

U.S. exports rose 2.1 percent to $193.9 billion, with exports to Canada and South Korea hitting all-time highs. Imports also rose but by a slower 1.1 percent to $234.3 billion, reflecting increased shipments of cellphones, clothing and other consumer goods and increased demand for heavy machinery and other capital goods.

Weaker sales slow home price gains

U.S. home prices rose at a slightly slower pace in the 12 months that ended in March, a sign that weak sales have begun to restrain the housing market’s sharp price gains.

Data provider CoreLogic says prices rose 11.1 percent in March compared with March 2013, down from February’s 12.2 percent year-over-year increase.

On a month-to-month basis, prices in March rose 1.4 percent from February. But CoreLogic’s month-to-month figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as warmer spring weather.

France says GE offer for Alstom inadequate

French President Francois Hollande says that an offer by General Electric Co. for troubled French engineering company Alstom is not good enough and wants the U.S. company to come up with a better deal.

The $17 billion bid for Alstom’s energy activities has prompted resistance within the French government, which is struggling to revive the country’s industrial base and stay globally competitive.

Alstom calls GE’s offer “practically perfect” and is ready to accept, but the company bowed to government pressure to wait amid discussion of other options.

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