American Apparel beefs up behavior rules

American Apparel Inc., which fired controversial founder Dov Charney as chief executive last month for alleged misconduct, has strengthened rules to prevent sexual harassment among its employees. Managers and subordinates are now prohibited from having romantic relationships, including dating casually, according to the new ethics code on the Los Angeles-based company's website. At about 6,200 words, the new code is more than four times as long as its predecessor. American Apparel is working to get a fresh start after officially firing Charney, ending a six-month saga that began when the board suspended him in June for misconduct. In removing Charney, the directors said he violated the chain's sexual harassment policies and improperly bought travel for family members with company funds.

Factory orders declined again in November

Orders to U.S. factories fell for a fourth straight month in November, with demand in a key category that signals business investment plans down for a third month. The Commerce Department said factory orders dropped 0.7 percent in November after a similar 0.7 percent fall in October. The November weakness came from decreases in demand for primary metals, industrial machinery and military aircraft. A closely watched category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending dropped 0.5 percent in November, marking the longest stretch of weakness in this category since 2012. Economists, however, remain optimistic that the drop in orders is a temporary soft patch.

Service sector expansion slowed last month

U.S. services firms expanded at a solid but much slower pace in December compared with the previous month, a sign growth may have cooled at the end of last year. The Institute for Supply Management said that its services index fell to 56.2 last month, down from 59.3 in November. Yet the drop comes from a very high level: November's reading was near an eight-year high of 59.6 reached in August. Any reading over 50 indicates expansion. The decline echoes a similar drop in the ISM's manufacturing index, released last Friday. Both indexes fell from strong readings in November, but are still showing steady levels of expansion.

Boeing sets commercial delivery record

Boeing Co. set a record in 2014 for commercial airplane deliveries and orders, the Chicago aerospace giant said. Boeing delivered 723 commercial airplanes last year, breaking a company record for the second consecutive year. It also booked 1,432 orders worth $232.7 billion at list prices, breaking a record high set in 2007. Airlines rarely pay list prices, however. Boeing's delivery total reportedly is enough to surpass rival Airbus, based in France. Airbus also set a company record but fell short of Boeing's total, Reuters reported, quoting an anonymous source. Airbus is not scheduled to officially report deliveries until next week.

Obama's Fed board nominee is from Hawaii

President Obama has selected the former head of a community bank in Hawaii to fill a vacancy on the Federal Reserve Board. The White House said Obama will nominate Allan Landon, the former chief executive of the Bank of Hawaii, to fill one of two vacancies on the seven-member board. The nomination will require Senate confirmation. The decision comes after a lobbying campaign by community bankers who argued that the Fed, which regulates banks, should have at least one community banker on its board. The White House said Landon had compiled a strong record in leading the Bank of Hawaii through the 2008 financial crisis. Landon served as chairman and chief executive of the bank from 2004 to 2010.

Coach to buy Stuart Weitzman for $530M

Coach is expanding its footwear collection. The luxury handbag and accessories company is buying Stuart Weitzman Holdings from private equity firm Sycamore Partners for about $530 million. Coach Inc. will also make up to $44 million in contingent payments to Sycamore Partners if certain revenue targets are hit over the three years after the deal closes. The deal is expected to bolster Coach's image while creating growth opportunities as it struggles to turn around its brand under new CEO Victor Luis, who took the post in January 2014. For Stuart Weitzman, the deal will expand its business overseas.

Mercedes-Benz moving U.S. HQ to Atlanta

German luxury automobile maker Mercedes-Benz said it's moving its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Atlanta, in part to be closer to its manufacturing facility in Alabama. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said the state offered an incentive package but said he couldn't discuss the details. The Fulton County Development Authority met briefly Tuesday to discuss its own incentive package for Mercedes' estimated $93 million facility but provided no details. The decision comes after weeks of lobbying by New Jersey officials who sought to keep the company in Montvale. About 1,000 jobs are to be moved starting in July.

Petco pulls Chinese pet treats from shelves

Petco, one of the country's largest pet retailers, announced has pulled all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its shelves, citing concerns that the foreign-made pet foods could be linked to a series of unexplained sicknesses and deaths among pet dogs in the United States. The move, the first by a national pet store, comes despite the Food and Drug Administration's inability to tie the illnesses specifically to Chinese-made pet foods.

FROM NEWS SERVICES