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Ford takes top spot for quality, says report

DETROIT - Ford supplanted Toyota as the leader of the pack in initial quality rankings, taking the top spot in five of 19 segments in the 2007 survey by J.D. Power and Associates, released Wednesday.

Porsche again dominated the overall ranking of brands, averaging 91 problems per 100 vehicles as it had last year. That compared with a 2007 industry average of 125 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year it was 124.

Ford Motor Co. earned segment awards for the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Mazda is 33.4 percent owned by Ford.

Ford's Lincoln brand took third in overall nameplate rankings, averaging 100 problems per 100 vehicles. It was behind Porsche and Toyota's Lexus luxury brand, which averaged 94 problems per vehicles.

ECONOMY

Bernanke: Rebound hinges on home sales

WASHINGTON - The White House on Wednesday lowered its forecast for economic growth this year even as it slightly upgraded its outlook for unemployment.

Under the administration's new forecast, gross domestic product, or GDP, will grow by 2.3 percent as measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the fourth quarter of this year. That's down from a previous projection of 2.9 percent.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the administration and private economists expect the economy will rebound in the months ahead. The one wild card, though, is whether the nearly year-long housing slump gets worse.

EMPLOYMENT

Worker productivity, wage pressures slow

WASHINGTON - The productivity of U.S. workers slowed sharply in the first three months of this year but wage pressures eased as well, providing evidence that inflation is being restrained.

The Labor Department reported that the amount of output per hour of work for nonfarm businesses rose at annual rate of 1 percent in the January-March quarter. That was the slowest advance since the third quarter of last year and was below the government's initial estimate that productivity rose at a 1.7 percent rate in the first quarter.

RESOURCES

Price for gasoline continues to decline

NEW YORK - Gasoline futures fell Wednesday after the government reported an unexpectedly large increase in gas inventories and a surprising decline in refinery utilization.

Oil futures jumped when news broke that several thousand Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to chase Kurdish guerrillas. Light, sweet crude for July delivery recovered from early losses and rose 35 cents to settle at $65.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline futures for July dropped 1.69 cents to settle at $2.1904 a gallon on the Nymex.

Olympian news services

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