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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 1:00 am

Briefs

Small firms are feeling optimistic

News services

Small-business owners are more upbeat about where their companies and the economy are headed.

That's one of the findings of a survey released Monday by the advocacy group National Small Business Association and ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace. Nearly 60 percent of the 1,633 owners the survey questioned in December and January anticipate that the economy will grow in the next 12 months. That compares to 45 percent in a survey taken in July by the NSBA.

Their optimism is likely fed by a good performance for their companies. Fifty-three percent said their revenue rose over the last 12 months, the first time in a decade that a majority of owners surveyed by the NSBA reported increases. Two-thirds expect their revenue to grow in the coming 12 months.

Ford ready to boost production of SUVs

Ford Motor Co. says demand for the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition is so strong that it expects to make 25 percent more of them than planned.

The SUVs went on sale last fall. Last month, Ford said U.S. sales of the Navigator to individual buyers were well over double from January 2017, while Expedition sales were up 57 percent.

Ford is investing $25 million in the Louisville, Kentucky, plant that makes the SUVs. The upgrade includes 400 new robots to increase manufacturing speed.

Ford says buyers are paying an average of $77,400 for a Navigator, or $21,300 more than the outgoing model.

Amazon cutting jobs at Seattle office

After a ramp-up of hiring last year, Amazon says it will cut a “small” number of positions at its Seattle headquarters.

The company did not give an exact number, but the Seattle Times, citing a person familiar with the cuts, says they affect a few hundred people. That would be a small percentage of the 40,000 people Amazon employs at its headquarters, and an even smaller proportion of its 566,000 employees worldwide.

In a statement, Amazon.com Inc. says it is still hiring aggressively in some areas.

Defense contractor to buy tech firm

Defense contractor General Dynamics will spend almost $7 billion to acquire CSRA with the Trump administration pushing defense spending aggressively higher.

Shares of CSRA Inc., an internet technology company, soared 31 percent in midday trading.

As part of a $4.4 trillion budget for next year unveiled Monday, President Donald Trump requested a record $686 billion for the Pentagon, a 13 percent increase from the 2017 budget enacted last May.

Ford, Mazda pickups have air-bag issues

Ford and Mazda are adding more than 35,000 trucks in North America to a list of vehicles that should not be driven because of Takata air bag inflators.

The warning includes 33,428 Ranger and 1,955 Mazda B-Series small pickups from 2006 model year, according to both companies. Ford, which made the B-Series for Mazda, found test results showing the trucks had inflators that ruptured or recorded high internal pressure readings, spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said Monday.

The companies and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said dealers will tow the pickups to service bays to replace the faulty inflators.