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Business

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Briefs

Feds praise Boeing 787 as safe jet

The government stepped in Friday to assure the public that Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is safe to fly, even as it launched a comprehensive review to find out what caused a fire, a fuel leak and other worrisome events this week.

Despite the reports, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared, “I believe this plane is safe, and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight.” Administrator Michael Huerta of the Federal Aviation Administration said his agency has seen no data suggesting that the plane is unsafe but wanted the review to find out why safety-related incidents were occurring.

The 787 is the aircraft maker’s newest and most technologically advanced airliner.

Warner Bros. seizes control of Superman

Superman belongs to Warner Bros., according to the latest legal victory granting the film and TV studio complete commercial control of the lucrative Superman franchise.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Thursday that the heirs of Superman’s co-creator Jerome Siegel must abide by a 2001 letter written by the family’s attorney accepting Warner Bros.’ offer for their 50 percent share of Superman. Though the five-page letter was never formalized into a contract, the appeals court said it was still binding.

The ruling Thursday undoes a 2008 trial court decision ordering Warner Bros. to share an undetermined amount of money earned since 1999 with the heirs, and to give the family control of key components of the Superman story, including his costume. If that decision were to stand, the studio would have had to negotiate a new costly royalty agreement with the family.

Ford to hire 2,200 salaried workers

Ford plans to hire 2,200 salaried employees in the United States this year, the most in more than a decade, in an expansion that shows the strength of the recovery in the second-largest U.S. automaker’s home market.

The plan follows the addition of more than 8,100 hourly and salaried jobs last year, the Dearborn, Mich., automaker said Friday in an emailed statement. The company’s target for salaried employee hiring would be the biggest increase since Ford added 3,300 such workers in 2001.

Ford is expanding after U.S. light-vehicle sales gained 13 percent last year.

Trade gap widens as imports surge

The U.S. trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced only modest growth in exports.

A wider trade gap slows growth because it means Americans spent more on foreign products while U.S. businesses earned less in overseas sales.

Wells Fargo reports record fourth quarter

Wells Fargo reported fourth-quarter earnings Friday, the first of the U.S. megabanks to do so. Profits shot to a record, up 25 percent from a year ago. Revenue climbed 7 percent.

Wells Fargo is the country’s biggest mortgage lender, and its results are a bellwether for the entire housing market.

Mortgage originations were up slightly over the year, but they slowed compared to the record third quarter.

Nearly three-quarters of the mortgage applications were from borrowers who want to refinance.

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