AUTO SAFETY

Ford faces probe on tailgate problem

U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that a Ford pickup truck tailgate recall didn’t fix the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 11 complaints that a recall of power tailgates on 300,000 Super Duty pickups failed to fix the issue. The agency says it also has received reports from Ford about unintended tailgate openings after the recall repairs were made.

Ford recalled the F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks in 2019 because the power tailgates could open while being driven. The defect could result in unrestrained cargo tumbling from vehicles. The trucks are from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

The agency says it will investigate how often the problem happens and what the safety consequences are.

On Tuesday, the NHSTA rejected a request from Ford and Mazda to avoid recalling about 3 million vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflaters. The regulator said the ammonium nitrate propellant used to inflate the driver’s air bags is showing signs of decay and poses a safety risk.

Associated Press

FOOD INDUSTRY

Tyson Foods to pay $221.5 million settlement

Tyson Foods, the United States’ biggest meat company, is paying $221.5 million to settle complaints over price-fixing allegations.

The Springdale, Ark.-based company said it reached an agreement to settle all class claims related to broiler chicken litigation, without admitting liability, according to a Wednesday regulatory filing. It follows Pilgrim’s Pride’s settlement of $75 million announced earlier this month.

The U.S. chicken industry, a $95 billion retail market, has been embroiled in litigation for years. Chicken buyers claim that many of America’s top producers illegally propped up prices and constricted poultry production for years.

Tyson disclosed in June that it was cooperating in a U.S. criminal probe that stemmed from the initial civil allegations.

Bloomberg News

EARNINGS

Morgan Stanley reports soaring profits

Morgan Stanley saw its fourth-quarter profits surge 48 percent from a year earlier, as the Wall Street bank benefited from the market’s upward swing and investors’ jubilation for tech stocks and IPOs late last year.

The New York-based firm posted a profit of $3.39 billion, or $1.81 a share, up from $2.31 billion, or $1.30 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results were significantly better than the $1.30-per-share profit that analysts had expected, according to FactSet.

Like its primary competitor Goldman Sachs, which also had a massive profit increase, Morgan Stanley saw a surge of revenue in its core investment banking and trading operations.

Bloomberg News

Also in Business

U.S. home builder confidence slipped to a four-month low in January as firms became slightly less optimistic about sales against a backdrop of higher house prices and construction costs. A gauge of builder sentiment fell to 83 from December’s reading of 86, National Association of Home Builders data showed Wednesday. The second-straight decline in confidence shows the extent to which higher building materials costs, particularly lumber, and rising home prices tied to lean inventory are slowing momentum.
U.S. hotels
recorded the lowest occupancy rates on record in 2020, as the covid-19 pandemic kept travelers at home and ate up lodging industry profits. Hotel occupancy was just 44 percent for the year, down from 66 percent in 2019 and the lowest number on record, according to data provider STR. The industry passed 1 billion unsold rooms for the first time in history, topping the previous record of 786 million in 2009. The industry will probably show nearly zero profit for the year, STR said.

From news reports

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases housing starts for December.

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases weekly report on unemployment benefits.

10 a.m.: Mortgage company Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.

Earnings: CSX, Union Pacific.