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Caterpillar posts higher first-quarter profit, raises outlook

By James B. Kelleher (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc <CAT.N> on Thursday posted a quarterly profit that topped analysts' estimates and raised its full-year outlook on a stronger-than-expected rebound in sales to the construction industry. The news sent shares of the world's largest maker of earth-moving machinery up 4.0 percent to $107.20 in trading before the market opened.

S. Korea's labor productivity improves in 2013

SEJONG, April 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's labor productivity improved from a year earlier in 2013, marking the first on-year gain in three years, the government said Thursday. The labor productivity index came to 99.5 last year, up 1.1 percent from 2012, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Labor productivity is measured by dividing total industrial output by total labor input with that of 2010 currently serving as a baseline of 100.

Switzerland's Holcim, France's Lafarge to form new cement-making giant

GENEVA - Two of the world's largest suppliers of building materials announced plans for a "merger of equals" Monday that would create an industry giant with a combined 32 billion euros ($44 billion) in annual revenues from around the world, including their cement and concrete businesses in Canada. Swiss-based Holcim and its French counterpart, Lafarge, said the new company would be named LafargeHolcim and be headquartered in Switzerland.

Switzerland's Holcim, France's Lafarge to form new cement-making giant

GENEVA - Two of the world's largest suppliers of building materials announced plans for a "merger of equals" Monday that would create an industry giant with a combined 32 billion euros ($44 billion) in annual revenues from around the world, including their cement and concrete businesses in Canada. Swiss-based Holcim and its French counterpart, Lafarge, said the new company would be named LafargeHolcim and be headquartered in Switzerland.

Caterpillar to face U.S. Senate panel on offshore taxes

By Patrick Temple-West WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc's offshore tax strategies will come under scrutiny on Tuesday at a U.S. Senate hearing expected to examine dealings by the world's largest mining and construction equipment maker in Switzerland, Bermuda and Luxembourg. With many multinationals being criticized for tax avoidance, veteran tax sleuth Senator Carl Levin will chair another session of his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, with three current and former Caterpillar executives slated to testify.

Panasonic sees spending $2.9 billion on restructuring this fiscal year and next

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp said on Thursday that it would spend a total of more than 300 billion yen ($2.93 billion) on restructuring this fiscal year ending March 31 and in the following year. The company also said it aims for an operating profit of 310 billion yen for the next financial year, compared with a forecast of 270 billion yen for the current fiscal year. (Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Dominic Lau)

U.S. fourth-quarter productivity slashed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Thursday sharply revised down nonfarm productivity for the fourth quarter, mirroring the economy's slow growth pace in the same period. Productivity rose at a 1.8 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 3.2 percent pace, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Productivity, which measures hourly output per worker increased at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter.

Caterpillar dealer push may drive some out, Levenick says

By James B. Kelleher LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc's <CAT.N> bid to lift the financial performance of its dealer network isn't designed to thin the ranks of the 178 independent distributors that sell and service its earth-moving products around the globe, a company executive said. But Stuart Levenick, who is charged with overseeing the financial turnaround, said an unknown number of dealers including some family-run businesses, could be casualties of the push unveiled last month.

Panasonic fined $4.7M for conspiring against Toyota Canada in bid-rigging scheme

OTTAWA - Panasonic Corp. has been fined $4.7 million by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice after pleading guilty to two counts of bid-rigging involving motor vehicle parts. The federal Competition Bureaus said Thursday that Panasonic conspired with another Japanese motor vehicle components manufacturer when responding to requests for bids from Toyota Canada. The two companies both co-ordinated their responses and agreed on which party would win bids to supply components such as turn switches, wiper switches, steering wheel switches and steering angle sensors, it said.

Panasonic fined $4.7M for conspiring against Toyota Canada in bid-rigging scheme

OTTAWA - Panasonic Corp. has been fined $4.7 million by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice after pleading guilty to two counts of bid-rigging involving motor vehicle parts. The federal Competition Bureaus said Thursday that Panasonic conspired with another Japanese motor vehicle components manufacturer when responding to requests for bids from Toyota Canada. The two companies both co-ordinated their responses and agreed on which party would win bids to supply components such as turn switches, wiper switches, steering wheel switches and steering angle sensors, it said.
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