Two Portland-area Tim Hortons among 36 closed

The Tim Hortons chain of coffee shops has closed 36 money-losing restaurants in New England and will shut down 18 kiosks in the region in the next few days, a company spokesman said Thursday.

The Ontario-based company closed all its locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut on Wednesday, the day it released its third quarter earnings report. It also closed two of its stores in the Portland area, although more than two dozen other locations remain in Maine, now the only New England state where the company is operating.

Tim Hortons said it has lost $4.4 million this year the now-closed locations, and is focusing instead on other U.S. markets where it already operates, including Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

Walt Disney fourth quarter income short of prediction

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income fell 7 percent, hurt by the shift of some revenue for ESPN to the third quarter and one fewer week in the quarter than a year ago. The results were short of analysts’ expectations and shares fell.

Net income in the three months to Oct. 2 fell to $835 million, or 43 cents per share, from $895 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier. Factoring out one-time items, adjusted earnings came to 45 cents per share, down from 46 cents a year ago and a penny below the forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Mortgage rates drop to record lows

Mortgage rates have dropped to a record low, the first decline in a month, as the Federal Reserve began a program to buy Treasury bonds to support the economy.

The rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 4.17 percent in the week ended Thursday from 4.24 percent, Freddie Mac said in a statement. That was the lowest level in the McLean, Va.- based mortgage-finance company’s records dating to 1971. The average 15-year rate declined to 3.57 percent from 3.63 percent.

GE to buy 25,000 electric vehicles to trigger demand

GE said Thursday it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 in hopes of sparking demand for the emerging market for which it makes charging stations and other infrastructure.

General Electric Co. will initially purchase 12,000 GM vehicles, beginning with the Chevrolet Volt next year. It plans to add others as manufacturers expand their electric vehicle offerings. Chevrolet Volts will roll off production lines this month, and other automakers are working on their own versions.

Nissan recalling cars for steering, battery problems

Nissan Motor Co. is recalling more than 600,000 vehicles in North and South America and Africa due to steering or battery cable problems.

The Japanese automaker said Thursday that the steering recall affects 303,000 Frontier pickup trucks and 283,000 Xterra sport utility vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Nissan said a corrosion problem with the lower steering column joint and shaft can limit steering movement, making the vehicles difficult to steer. In some cases the corrosion can cause the joint to crack.

Nissan also is recalling 18,500 Sentra sedans because of a battery cable terminal connector problem that can make the cars difficult to start or stall at low speeds.

The company says no injuries or accidents have been reported because of either issue.

The automaker said it will notify owners in early December when parts are available, and dealers will fix the problem at no cost to the owners. Nissan said the steering problem was discovered from cases in Brazil and Canada, and there have been no field reports in the U.S.