Business & Finance

A $5.45 billion annual loss, its first since 1992, was reported by Ford, the world's second-largest automaker. The company said most of the red ink flowed in the fourth quarter because of costs related to the restructuring plan whose details were announced last week. Ford said it sold 6 percent fewer vehicles last year than in 2000.

A wave of cancelled orders will cause Airbus Industrie, the chief commercial-jet rival of Boeing, to cut 6,000 jobs, a senior executive announced. But as much as possible, he said, the layoffs would come through attrition and the elimination of temporary and part-time positions. The Toulouse, France-based aerospace giant reported a 44 percent drop in orders last year and the cancellation of 101 others, almost all of them after Sept. 11.

Less than three years after paying $1.7 billion for the mail-order house Fingerhut Companies Inc., its parent announced the unit will be shut down. Federated Department Stores Inc. of Cincinnati, which operates more than 450 stores - among them Macy's and Bloomingdale's - said it saw no remaining strategic value in Fingerhut and expects to realize about $1 billion from the sale of its assets. Fingerhut, based in the Minneapolis suburbs, tailors its appeal to the lower-income market. It employs about 4,700 people in Minnesota and 1,300 in its telemarketing and distribution operations in Tennessee.

Still more layoffs and plant closures are probable and may be announced as soon as next month, leading jeans manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co. said. Despite issuing a better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings report, the San Francisco-based company reportedly is resigned to declining sales for a sixth straight year. It did not identify which of its eight remaining US plants would be closed, although negotiations with labor unions are under way to shut down two in Scotland. Between 400 and 500 Levi's workers were laid off in the US and Japan late last year.

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