Business briefs – June 30

Citing better-than-expected sales and traffic at dealerships, Ford Motor Co. said Monday it plans to increase third-quarter production by 25,000 units — marking the automaker’s second production hike in recent weeks.

Ford boosts Q3 production

DEARBORN, Mich. — Citing better-than-expected sales and traffic at dealerships, Ford Motor Co. said Monday it plans to increase third-quarter production by 25,000 units — marking the automaker’s second production hike in recent weeks.

Ford spokesman Mark Truby said that will bring total quarterly production to 485,000 units, a year-over-year increase of 16 per cent or 67,000 units. Last month the company said it would raise third-quarter production by 42,000 units.

The boost affects all models of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury vehicles, with more emphasis being placed on Mustangs, pickup trucks and the Ford Focus compact car, Truby said.

The increase comes as Ford’s top sales analyst, George Pipas, said the company’s June sales were “good” compared with the overall industry. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker could see a year-over-year decline of 10 to 20 per cent, which could be the lowest among major automakers, he said.

Exxon declines appeal

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has decided not to appeal hundreds of millions of dollars in interest on punitive damages resulting from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The Irving, Texas-based company will pay about US$470 million in interest on more than $507.5 million in punitive damages following the spill of crude in Prince William Sound, company spokesman Tony Cudmore said Monday.

The company expects to make payment on the interest in the next few days, said plaintiffs’ lawyer David Oesting. Exxon’s decision was first reported Monday by the Anchorage Daily News.

The decision is a turnaround for the company. Exxon Mobil since the mid-1990s has appealed rulings on punitive damages.

Reactor decision on hold

TORONTO — Ontario is delaying plans to build two new nuclear reactors, saying Monday that Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s bid would cost billions more than the province is willing to pay as it hinted federal aid could help seal the deal.

AECL was the only one of three candidates to build the Darlington nuclear station reactors to properly address requirements around assuming responsibility for cost overruns, but that bid was still too expensive, said Energy Minister George Smitherman.

Ottawa, which earlier this year announced plans to put AECL’s nuclear reactor business up for sale, may want to step in to allow AECL to make a more competitive bid, he added.

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