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Midsize car crash tests show safety improving

Honda Motor Co.'s 2004 Acura TSX and TL sedans and Nissan Motor Co.'s 2004 Maxima were singled out for their safety in frontal crash tests conducted by an insurer-funded trade group.

The three cars earned the "best pick" designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which tests autos hitting a barrier at 40 m.p.h. General Motors Corp.'s 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2004 Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Galant received "good" ratings.

Receiving the Arlington, Va.-based insurer group's highest mark means a driver wearing a seat belt probably will walk away from a crash. The Maxima and the Galant have improved from an initial "poor" grade, the lowest of four grades, when the institute began the tests in 1995.

Overall, safety is on the rise. In 1995, 21 percent of the cars tested received the top mark. The past two years, the figure has been 88 percent. Forty-four of the 50 cars in the latest year received a "good" rating.

"These results show how automakers have improved the structural designs of vehicles to protect occupants better," said Adrian Lund, the insurance group's chief operating officer. Suzuki Motor Corp.'s 2004 Verona earned the second-highest grade on a second test after an initial test led to a recall.

The trade group said the air bag failed in the first test of the Verona because of a wiring defect, prompting the Japanese automaker to fix vehicles that had been sold and change production procedures.

By Bloomberg

AIRLINES
Carriers confirm getting subpoenas from U.S.
UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, US Airways Group Inc. and America West Holdings Corp. said they received subpoenas from the U.S. Treasury Department seeking their correspondence with airline loan board members and staff.

The subpoena seeks receipts for meals, airline tickets, gifts, loans or discounts for board staff members, the New York Times reported. The subpoena didn't say why investigators want the information; five U.S. carriers confirmed receiving them, the newspaper said, without naming them.

Anne Womack Kolton, a Treasury Department and loan board spokeswoman in Washington, declined to comment.

Congress set up the Air Transportation Stabilization Board after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to decide which airlines would receive as much as $10 billion in guarantees to help the carriers recover.

ECONOMY
Durable goods report expected to be positive
New orders for durable goods probably rose at U.S. factories last month, while consumers plunked down more money for homes and autos, bolstering expectations that economic growth accelerated this quarter, economists said in advance of reports this week.

A report Wednesday from the Commerce Department will show that bookings for machinery, electronic goods and other products made to last three or more years increased 1.5 percent in February, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

ENERGY
Royal Dutch/Shell to cut Nigerian workforce
Oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell plans to streamline its operations in Nigeria, cutting jobs in a bid to boost oil production by half a million barrels a day.

Shell will close some of its Nigerian offices and create "a single corporate center," running a leaner and more efficient organization in the country, the company is to announce today.

Shell Nigeria's managing director, Chris Finlayson, said the reorganization's aim was to raise Shell's oil production from about 1 million daily barrels to 1.5 million barrels a day by 2006.

Shell expects the move will help lower the cost of producing crude oil to $1.50 a barrel from about $2 a barrel.

Official says oil prices up due to terror fears
Oil prices rose to a 13-year high last week because of concern about terrorism's threat to crude supplies from the Middle East, and not because of an existing energy shortage, Algeria's oil minister said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut sales from April 1 as pledged to avoid an oil glut forming in the second quarter, Chakib Khelil said in an interview in Doha, Qatar, where he's attending a gas conference.

"Demand will go down 2.5 million barrels a day in the second quarter," Khelil said. "OPEC must still implement its quota cut of 1 million barrels a day in order for the oil price to stay within our range of $22 to $28 a barrel," he said.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Belgian firm has biggest IPO in Europe in 3 years
Belgacom SA, Belgium's dominant telephone company, said its share sale raised as much as 3.59 billion euros ($4.4 billion) for minority stockholders in Europe's biggest initial public offering in three years. Shareholders including SBC Communications Inc., Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and TDC A/S sold Belgacom shares at 24.50 euros each.

It allowed those shareholders to exit Belgacom and will also give Belgium's government the chance to sell some of its shares at a later date, while keeping its majority stake.

TOBACCO
Judge won't allow U.S. case to be tossed out
Cigarette makers face the U.S. government this fall in what is shaping up as the biggest civil racketeering trial in history.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the latest bid to have the case thrown out, and the government submitted a list of witnesses it intends to call.

Six years ago, 46 states settled their suit against the industry for $206 billion, payable over 25 years. Four states settled separately for a total of $40 billion. The states recovered costs for treating sick smokers.

Kessler ruled the federal government cannot do the same. Instead, she is letting the Justice Department sue the industry for allegedly conspiring to deceive the public about the dangers of tobacco and the addictive nature of nicotine. The government also claims the companies targeted children through advertising and then lied about it.

The defendants are Philip Morris USA Inc. and its owner, Altria Group Inc.; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.; British American Tobacco Ltd.; Lorillard Tobacco Co.; Liggett Group Inc.; Counsel for Tobacco Research-U.S.A. and the Tobacco Institute.

http://www.freep.com/money/business/irep22_20040322.htm
 

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tsxclub said:
.....frontal crash tests....
Great stuff! -- but just one thing about "frontal crash tests"......

Actually I think it was frontal offset crash tests, the same tests as in Whatchamacallit's posts over here:

http://www.tsxclub.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=11098#post11098

The thing is, I'm pretty sure there's a difference between "frontal" and "frontal offset." BTW I think the offset tests are regarded as more important because offset impacts are most common.

This can be pretty confusing. In fact I was confused (and I may still be.....)
Last night I could have sworn that on that other thread, there were the results of both frontal offset and straight frontal. But now I see it looks like it was just offset. And I think this here is just offset also.
 
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