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Briefs

Firms vow quicker pay to suppliers

Dozens of companies, including Apple, Honda and Coca-Cola, have agreed to pay their suppliers more quickly in a bid to boost small businesses, the White House announced Friday.

President Barack Obama was to launch an initiative called SupplierPay during a White House meeting with businesses, suppliers and the head of the Small Business Administration. Under the program, 26 companies have committed to pay small businesses they contract with for parts and services faster, or to help them access capital at lower costs, the White House said.

The program mirrors the existing QuickPay initiative that requires the federal government to pay small contractors quickly, ideally within 15 days. The White House said that program has accelerated more than $220 billion worth of payments to federal contractors, making it easier for those businesses to grow.

Walgreens, FedEx and IBM are among the other companies with household names that have agreed to participate.

Amazon asks FAA for OK to fly drones

Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

The news sent shares of the nation’s largest e-commerce company up nearly 6 percent.

The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deliver packages with self-guided aircrafts that seemed straight out of science fiction.

Economists lower forecasts for growth

U.S. business economists have sharply cut their growth forecasts for the April-June quarter and 2014, though they remain optimistic the economy will rebound from a dismal first quarter.

The average forecast for growth in the second quarter has fallen to 3 percent, according to a survey released Friday by the National Association for Business Economics. That’s down from 3.5 percent in a June survey. Growth in 2014 as a whole will be just 1.6 percent, they project, sharply below a previous forecast of 2.5 percent. If accurate, this year’s growth would be the weakest since the recent recession.

Jeep, Dodge SUVs recalled for fire risk

Chrysler says it is recalling 651,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs in the U.S. because vanity mirror lights that have undergone repairs can short circuit and start a fire if not reassembled correctly.

The recall is for certain 2011 to 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango models. Chrysler says it has seen the problem only in lighted sun visor mirrors that have been repaired. But as a precaution, it says the recall applies to all of the vehicles.

The automaker says it knows of three injuries caused by the lighted mirror.

500,000 Fords probed for steering problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it is investigating steering problems in about 500,000 Ford cars.

The investigation covers 2004-07 Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Marauder models.

NHTSA says a heat shield in the car can rust, dislodge and cause the steering shaft to jam. It has received five complaints about the issue and knows of one injury. In that case, the steering froze as a driver entered a highway entrance ramp, causing the car to roll over and cause injuries.

Ford Motor Co. says it will cooperate with the NHTSA.

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