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    Grilled: Lexus seeks design edge over premium rivals
    File photo of Fukuichi, executive vice president of Lexus, posing next to a Lexus LF-NX mid-size crossover concept during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor ShowBy Norihiko Shirouzu BEIJING (Reuters) - Big may be beautiful, but Toyota Motor Corp's global design chief is betting that edgy is the way to go for the Japanese automaker's premium Lexus brand, specifically its signature 'spindle grille' design.     Tokuo Fukuichi, who is also Lexus' global chief, says the design shock-therapy gives the brand - and conservative Toyota more broadly - the stand-out face it previously lacked.     While some industry rivals and design experts say the jagged-edged, trapezoid grille is downright ugly, 63-year-old Fukuichi stands by the drastic makeover, saying it will give Lexus a "unique" edge over German rivals BMW , Audi and Mercedes-Benz particularly in competitive emerging markets such as China, where buyers will pay more for a car that stands out from the crowd. Fukuichi, who was brought back to Toyota from a subsidiary in 2011 and as he was recovering from cancer, says Toyota for too long designed cars by committee – often of several dozen people.
    Investors look to earnings for market direction
    A Wall Street sign is pictured in front of the New York Stock Exchange, open during Winter Storm Juno, in the Manhattan borough of New YorkInvestors attempting to determine whether U.S. equities will rebound from Friday's selloff or continue to sink will look to a deluge of earnings next week for a clearer picture of the economy. Equities lost ground after industrials Honeywell International and General Electric took hits from the strong dollar, while concerns over new trading regulations in China and Greece's place in the euro zone dented sentiment. Investors have grown concerned about the impact of a strong dollar on quarterly results, even as they remain leery of missing out on any rally. "Our markets will get kind of quiet again as we wait for some of those earnings and what is going to happen on the 24th with Greece," said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
    Investors look to earnings for market direction
    A Wall Street sign is pictured in front of the New York Stock Exchange, open during Winter Storm Juno, in the Manhattan borough of New YorkInvestors attempting to determine whether U.S. equities will rebound from Friday's selloff or continue to sink will look to a deluge of earnings next week for a clearer picture of the economy. Equities lost ground after industrials Honeywell International and General Electric took hits from the strong dollar, while concerns over new trading regulations in China and Greece's place in the euro zone dented sentiment. Investors have grown concerned about the impact of a strong dollar on quarterly results, even as they remain leery of missing out on any rally. "Our markets will get kind of quiet again as we wait for some of those earnings and what is going to happen on the 24th with Greece," said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
    Wal-Mart shuffles U.S. store management to improve sales
    A Wal-Mart store shows off the company's logo in LovelandThere are about five zone managers in each of Wal-Mart's 3,407 supercenters, and those employees will be reassigned to department manager or assistant manager positions, spokesman Kory Lundberg said. In addition, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, plans to add 7,000 to 8,000 department manager positions, Lundberg said. "Putting in new departmental managers will make a significant difference," Judith McKenna, chief operating officer of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, said at a briefing for analysts and investors earlier this month.
    Wal-Mart cutting layer of management in stores: Bloomberg
    A Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, is cutting the role of zone manager from its stores as part of efforts to simplify its operations, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The duties of zone manager, of which there are generally about six per store, will be transferred to other managers, Bloomberg said. Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
    Ford to spend $2.5 billion on new Mexico engine, transmission operations
    The Ford logo is pictured at the Ford Motor Co plant in GenkFord Motor Co said on Friday will spend $2.5 billion to build a new generation of fuel-efficient engines and transmissions in Mexico, creating 3,800 jobs. Ford said it will build a new engine facility within its engine plant in the northern state of Chihuahua. The facility will build a new gasoline engine that will be exported to the United States, Canada, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Production of Ford's I-4 and diesel engines at the Chihuahua plant will also be expanded, making it the biggest engine plant in Mexico.
    GM counting on high-speed Internet services in car to drive profits
    File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in DetroitNow, as the company prepares to expand the technology to most of its 2016 U.S. models, GM is lifting the curtain on its digital business strategy.    During a recent investor presentation, company executives put a number on their 4G expectations for the first time, saying they expect to reap at least $350 million in improved profits over the next three years from adding the OnStar 4G systems to its cars.     GM is the first automaker to reveal its projections, but it is not alone in chasing digital profits. As in-car broadband usage grows, GM's estimates could turn out to be conservative, some analysts say, since the potential for revenues from in-car broadband connections are still being developed. Taking a cut of e-commerce transactions conducted on in-car systems is one obvious revenue generator, but automakers also expect that software upgrades pushed through a broadband connection will one day save them hundreds of dollars per car in repair costs.
    Strong dollar hit to GE, Honeywell may bode poorly for other industrials
    The logo of US conglomerate General Electric is pictured at the company's site in BelfortGeneral Electric Co and Honeywell International Inc said on Friday they will take steps to cushion the impact of a stronger dollar, which hurt first-quarter results at both companies. Indeed, the impact of currency shifts on U.S. companies will be highlighted further next week with quarterly reports from United Technologies Corp , which already slashed its 2015 financial forecast in January over currency worries, as well as from 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works Inc . GE said foreign currency effects shaved $950 million, or 4 percentage points, off its sales in the first quarter. Honeywell also reported a 4-percentage-point quarterly drag from a stronger dollar, and projected that exchange fluctuations would weigh down sales by $1.7 billion this year.
    Antitrust lawyers against Comcast-Time Warner deal: Bloomberg
    Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Cable headquarters in New York(Reuters) - Staff attorneys at the Justice Department's antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc , Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Time Warner and Comcast did not immediately respond to request for comments.
    Obama says new trade deal with Asia will help U.S. workers
    U.S. President Obama addresses joint news conference at the White House in WashingtonWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday a new trade agreement with Asia that is being negotiated would benefit not just U.S. businesses, but also American workers.
    EU telecoms reform to address competition from WhatsApp, Skype
    Picture illustration shows Whatsapp's logo reflected in a person's eye, in central Bosnian town of ZenicaThe European Commission will take into account increased competition from cable operators and alternative services such as WhatsApp when it overhauls Europe's telecoms rules next year, a move that will be cheered by the telecoms industry. A draft seen by Reuters of the Commission's strategy for creating a digital single market says telecom operators compete with "over-the-top" services "without being subject to the same regulatory regime". The bloc's telecom firms such as Orange and Deutsche Telekom have long called for lighter-touch regulation, after years of declining revenues and competition from new entrants, to enable them to invest in network upgrades. Telecom companies point to increased competition from services such as Skype (owned by Microsoft ) and online messaging as a reason for easing the regulatory burden.
    G20 strikes hopeful tone, but officials fret over Greece
    Finance Ministers discuss catastrophe and relief efforts during IMF World Bank meetings in WashingtonThe Group of 20 leading economies struck a hopeful tone on the outlook for global growth on Friday even as officials fretted that Athen's inability to strike a deal with its lenders could upset Europe's tentative recovery. In a draft of a communique to be released later in the day, G20 finance ministers and central bankers welcomed brighter economic signs in rich economies, but lamented over weakness in some emerging nations. "Risks to the global economy are more balanced since we last met," the draft said. Still, the group of developed and emerging market nations, which represent around 80 percent of global economic output, warned of risks.

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