Chambers to step down as CEO of Cisco

Veteran tech executive John Chambers plans to step down after more than 20 years as CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., a major supplier of computer networking gear that makes the Internet work. Cisco said its board has selected longtime company executive Chuck Robbins to succeed Chambers in July, bypassing some of Chambers' better-known lieutenants. Chambers, who was one of Silicon Valley's longest-serving CEOs, will move to the role of Cisco's executive board chairman. During his tenure, the company grew from $1.2 billion in annual revenue in 1995, the year he became CEO, to $48 billion in sales last year.

Rise in factory orders is first since July

Orders to U.S. factories rose in March for the first time since last July, breaking a long stretch of weakness in manufacturing. Orders increased 2.1 percent after seven monthly declines, the Commerce Department reported. And in further good news, orders in a key category that tracks business investment plans eked out a 0.1 percent rise. It was the first advance in this category since last August. Economists are hoping that U.S. manufacturing is beginning to emerge from a long soft patch, bolstered by stronger domestic demand that will offset ongoing weakness in exports. Orders for durable goods, which are items expected to last at least three years, rose 4.4 percent in March. Demand for nondurable goods such as chemicals and paper dropped 0.3 percent.

Airlines collected more fees again last year

U.S. airlines are earning billions, and they are collecting more in fees on checked bags and reservation changes. Whether airlines are making more or less profit than before depends on which figures you use. The Department of Transportation said airlines collected $3.5 billion in bag fees last year, a 5 percent increase over 2013, and $3 billion in reservation-change fees, a 6 percent hike. Fees began escalating in 2008, when airlines were losing money and facing a sharp rise in fuel prices. Today, they make up a growing share of airline revenue.

Las Vegas' Riviera closes doors for good

The aging Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip will age no more. As of noon Monday, the 60-year-old casino-hotel closed its doors as the last few gamblers tried their luck on slots. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the 2,075-room building and 26 acres it sits on in February. The publicly funded tourism agency plans to tear down the casino-hotel where Liberace and Frank Sinatra once were headliners and expand the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Strip.

GM to put $174M into Kansas City plant

General Motors Co. will invest $174 million in its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan., to pay for new equipment and technology to produce the 2016 Malibu, company officials announced Monday. Production of the midsize sedan, which was unveiled in early April in New York, is scheduled to begin at the plant later this year. The investment will not mean any new jobs at the plant, which now employs 3,230 hourly and 270 salaried workers building Malibu and Buick LaCrosse models.

Dow Chemical to cut 1,500 jobs worldwide

Dow Chemical Co. will cut about 3 percent of its global workforce as it prepares to break off a significant part of its chlorine operations in a deal announced earlier this year with Olin Corp. The company says the cuts will reduce its workforce by 1,500 to 1,750 positions. Dow Chemical employed about 53,000 people worldwide at the end of last year. The Midland, Mich., company said in March that it will receive about $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and an estimated $2.2 billion in Olin common stock as part of the chlorine business deal. Dow Chemical will take charges totaling about $330 million to $380 million in the second quarter for asset impairments, severance and other costs tied to the cuts announced Monday.