Jeep Cherokee, Ram drive up Chrysler Group sales

Chrysler Group’s first-quarter sales jumped thanks to the new Jeep Cherokee and Ram pickup, but it lost money because of charges related to its merger with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

Chrysler posted a loss of $690 million for the quarter. Without one-time costs of $1.2 billion, the company’s net income more than doubled to $486 million.

In January, Fiat paid $3.65 billion to acquire Chrysler’s remaining shares. The two companies are in the process of combining to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The combined company expects to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in the fourth quarter of this year.

Pfizer seeks to allay fears over AstraZeneca takeover

Pfizer Inc. wants to allay concerns over its proposed $106 billion takeover offer of pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, insisting that its promises will be legally binding.

In a memo Monday to two U.K. parliamentary committees studying the proposed deal, the U.S. drugmaker laid out its vision ahead of its testimony before the science and business committees. The company sought to ease worries that British jobs will be lost and that the nation’s science base eroded by the potential merger.

Bigger smartphones soaring in popularity

When it comes to smartphones, these days bigger seems to be better.

Worldwide shipments of smartphones with screens measuring 5 inches or more soared 369 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, a growth rate substantially faster than that of the overall market. Worldwide big-screen devices represented 34 percent of smartphone shipments, according to market research firm Canalys.

All told, worldwide shipments of smartphones totaled 279.4 million in the first quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier. Android devices accounted for 81 percent of the total, followed by iOS (16 percent) and Windows Phone (3 percent).

China’s leader tells nation to expect slower growth

China’s president has told the country to get used to slower growth, damping expectations of a new stimulus.

President Xi Jinping’s weekend comments come amid weakening trade and manufacturing. Economic growth slowed in the latest quarter to 7.4 percent after last year’s full-year expansion of 7.7 percent tied 2012 for the weakest performance since 1999.

The ruling Communist Party is trying to steer the economy to self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment.

– From news service reports