Auto sales fall a bit due to snowstorm

U.S. auto sales fell slightly in January because of the East Coast snowstorm, but analysts said demand remained strong and buyers will likely head back into dealerships this month. Sales fell less than 1 percent to 1.1 million, according to Autodata Corp. The mid-January storm, which buried New York and Washington D.C. under more than 2 feet of snow, cost automakers around 15,000 vehicle sales, said John Humphrey, J.D. Power's senior vice president of automotive. But automakers said sales volumes returned to normal levels in the last weekend of the month. Ford, Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen all saw sales decline from last January. General Motors' sales were flat. Fiat Chrysler, Nissan and Hyundai posted sales increases.

Solid sales for bourbon, whiskey producers

Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are toasting another year of strong sales and revenue growth, led by consumers increasingly ordering high-priced, super-premium brands. Combined U.S. revenue for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015, up $210 million from the prior year, the Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday. Domestic volume rose 5.2 percent last year to 20.4 million cases, the distilled spirits trade group said. Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey revenue and volumes outpaced the overall distilled spirits sector, the council said in its annual report.

Quicken is expanding into personal loans

Quicken Loans has expanded into the business of personal loans with its first lending product that is not a home mortgage. Detroit-based Quicken this week launched RocketLoans, an online service offering cash loans of $2,000 to $35,000 to prospective borrowers with good credit scores and financial histories. The loans have fixed terms of three to five years and carry interest rates ranging from just over 5 percent to the low or midteens, depending on a borrower's financial history. There also is a loan origination fee. RocketLoans are generally aimed at consumers who wish to consolidate high-interest credit card debt, do home improvements, pay medical expenses, finance weddings or help with a small business.

Microsoft recalling 2.44M power cords

Microsoft is recalling about 2.44 million of its Surface tablet power cords because of the risk of fire or electrical shocks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday. Seattle-based Microsoft has received 56 reports of AC cords overheating and emitting flames, and five reports of electric shock, the commission said. The recall applies to AC power cords sold before March 15, 2015, that accompanied Microsoft's Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 tablets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more details on the recall on its website. Microsoft said in a blog post that the cords can overheat if wound too tightly, pinched or twisted over an extended period of time.

Toyota recalling 320,000 trucks, SUVs

Toyota is recalling about 320,000 trucks and SUVs because the roof-mounted air bags can inflate without a crash. The recall covers the 2005 and 2006 Toyota Tundra and Sequoia, the 2003 through 2006 Land Cruiser, and the 2004 through 2006 4-Runner. Also included are the 2003 through 2006 Lexus LX 470 and the 2004 through 2006 GX 470. The company says improper programming in the air bag control computer caused the problem.

Dow's CEO will leave following merger

Dow Chemical Co. Chief Executive Andrew Liveris will leave the company after the completion of its merger with DuPont Co., marking a victory for activist investor Dan Loeb, who had called for his removal. Liveris, 61, is a Dow lifer, having spent four decades at the U.S. company. He will depart once the newly created DowDuPont is ready for a planned three-way split, no later than the second quarter of 2017, he said Tuesday on Dow's fourth-quarter earnings call. Dow and DuPont announced Dec. 11 a merger of equals, to be followed by the separation of a trio of businesses focused on plastics, agricultural products and specialty materials.

Chipotle criminal investigation widens

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said the scope of a previously disclosed federal criminal investigation has widened beyond a single restaurant in California. The Denver company said it has been served with another subpoena requiring it produce documents related to companywide food safety dating back to the start of 2013. Previously, it had said it was served a subpoena in relation to a California restaurant, where there was a norovirus outbreak over the summer. Chipotle also confirmed its sales sank 14.6 percent at established locations for the fourth quarter after an E. coli outbreak and a separate norovirus incident sickened dozens of people. That's the first sales drop since the company went public a decade ago.

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