CHRYSLER OFFERS HELP AT PUMP IN EFFORT TO BOOST SALES: As gasoline tops $4 per gallon in some areas and crude oil spikes to new records, no major automaker has been hit harder than Chrysler LLC. The No. 4 U.S. auto seller still relies on trucks and sport utility vehicles for 70 percent of its sales, and buyers are shunning the more fuel-efficient models it has introduced in the past few years. With sales down 23 percent in April and nearly 18 percent for the first four months of the year, the Auburn Hills, Mich., company Monday night tried to pull some buyers back. The maker of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles announced an offer that caps the price of gasoline at $2.99 a gallon for three years for people who buy or lease new vehicles from today through June 2. The offer covers most models and is based on 12,000 miles of driving per year and the vehicle's government fuel economy rating. Customers will get a card for buying gas that is linked to their own charge account, Chrysler said. The customer will be billed $2.99 a gallon, and Chrysler will pay the rest. Chrysler's major competitors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. all said they would not follow with their own subsidies, but Suzuki Motor Corp. has made a similar offer in the United States with free gas for the summer.
ACCOUNTANTS TO FOCUS ON BOTTOM LINE: What signs determine whether a business will meet its bottom line will be the topic at the Thursday meeting of the Central California Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants in Modesto. CPA Tom Vermeulen will be the keynote speaker at the 6:30 p.m. meeting. Dinner is at 7. The meeting will be at Appetez Restaurant, 825 W. Roseburg Ave. To reserve a space, call 481-6329.
DEAL NEAR FOR NEW WIMAX NETWORK: Sprint Nextel Corp. is close to finalizing a deal to get financing for its new wireless broadband network from a group that includes Comcast Corp. and Google Inc., according to a person close to the talks. The group, which also includes Time Warner Cable Inc., Bright House Networks, Intel Corp. and Clearwire Corp., is expected to announce as early as this morning a $12 billion deal to create a national network that uses the WiMax technology, said the person, who asked not to be named because public release of details hasn't been authorized. Sprint will merge its WiMax division, worth billions of dollars, with Clearwire, which has been building its own WiMax network. Sprint will be the majority owner of the new company, to be called Clearwire. WiMax promises faster download speeds than the latest networks run by cell-phone operators, and it's even seen as a potential competitor to fixed-line broadband such as DSL. The combined venture will get more than $3 billion in funding for the project from the investor group.
BEE NEWS SERVICES
79: Percentage of small-business owners/managers who say they still look for help with their taxes, according to a survey conducted by American Express Small Business Monitor.
17: Percentage who say they do their taxes themselves.
6: Percentage who do them by hand with a pen and paper.
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