The final large section of the second Boeing 787 Dreamliner — the mid-fuselage section assembled in Charleston...

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The final large section of the second Boeing 787 Dreamliner — the mid-fuselage section assembled in Charleston, S.C. — arrived in Everett aboard one of the special 747 Dreamlifter cargo planes Monday afternoon.

Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Leach described the state of completion of the second airplane as “very significant progress” compared with the first Dreamliner.

The failure of supplier partners to complete installation work on the first jet caused an embarrassing program slide of about nine months.

“We are very pleased things are improving,” Leach said.

A 787 worker, who cannot be identified because Boeing bars employees from talking freely to the media, confirmed the relative completeness of the arriving airframe sections of this second airplane to fly. “It’s a lot better than the first,” he said.


Refueling tanker ready for Japan

Boeing completed certification Wednesday of its 767 military refueling tanker for the Japanese Air Force. The plane maker expects to deliver the first tanker to Japan within days.

That’s a year late because of performance issues that emerged in flight test. Still, finally delivering it is a boost for Boeing’s contention that it has an edge in the U.S. Air Force tanker competition.

“This clearly demonstrates our ability to work through challenging issues and deliver to a customer,” said Boeing tanker spokesman Bill Barksdale “We just need our Japan customer to give us final approval and we’re ready to deliver the tanker.”


Sales fall, costs rise and net loss posted

Nautilus, the maker of Bowflex and StairMaster exercise machines, posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $47.7 million as sales fell and administrative and general costs more than tripled.

The loss of $1.51 a share compared with a profit of $12.9 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier, the Vancouver, Wash. company said Wednesday.

The loss from continuing operations, which excludes the apparel unit Nautilus is offering for sale, was $31.4 million, or 99 cents a share.

Sales from continuing operations were $147.3 million, down 20 percent from $185.1 million a year earlier. General and administrative costs more than tripled to $37.6 million, Nautilus said.

The company took charges totaling $45.1 million in the fourth quarter, including $19.4 million related to the suspended acquisition of a Chinese factory and $16.9 million in inventory-related costs.


House panel rejects request for probe

A congressional committee decided not to investigate whether U.S. advisers reviewing Dendreon’s prostate-cancer treatment Provenge had conflicts of interest.

Wednesday’s news pushed the Seattle-based biotech company’s stock down 15 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $5.68.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a letter Wednesday that the reviewers disclosed potential conflicts and received waivers before they served on a panel advising the Food and Drug Administration.

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Democrats Michael Michaud of Maine and Tim Ryan of Ohio wrote to Dingell in December seeking an inquiry into potential conflicts of interest for two members of an advisory panel who argued against approval of Provenge.

The FDA turned down the drug in May. It wants to see results from a larger study designed to answer whether Provenge extends lives, Dendreon has said.


Number of changes at the exec level

Microsoft will appoint Andrew Lees to head its mobile-communications business, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Under the plan, which includes promotions for more than 10 executives and the departure of others, the software maker will today name Lees, a corporate vice president in the server and tools group, as a senior vice president, the newspaper reported Wednesday night.

The head of the mobile unit, Pieter Knook, will retire, the paper said.

The changes include expanded duties for Vice Presidents Bill Veghte and Satya Nadella, the paper said. A vice president in charge of Windows marketing, Michael Sievert, is expected to leave.


7 tech companies in online venture

NEC, Japan’s largest maker of personal computers, said it teamed up with Redmond-based Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and four other U.S. tech companies to develop and sell Internet systems to distribute high-definition programming.

The other partners are Sun Microsystems, EMC, Oracle and BEA Systems, Tokyo-based NEC said.

NEC will sell the system to broadcast operators and telecommunication companies worldwide. It expects the partnership to yield 50 billion yen ($462 million) in sales over the next three years.

Nation and World

Commerce Department

High gas prices raise retail results

Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December, although much of the strength reflected rising gasoline prices. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month after having fallen 0.4 percent in December as retailers suffered through their worst Christmas shopping season in five years.

The increase was led by higher demand for new cars and a big jump in sales at service stations that primarily reflected rising gas prices.

The January sales came as a surprise after reports from the nation’s big retailers that January had been a disappointing month. Wal-Mart had said strapped consumers were using their holiday gift cards to purchase basic items such as diapers and laundry detergent rather than iPods and the latest DVDs.

Morgan Stanley

1,000 jobs to vanish due to mortgage ills

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said it will cut 1,000 jobs as the nation’s second-largest investment bank trims its residential mortgage operations amid the continued deterioration of the mortgage markets.

The New York-based company said it will shutter its U.K. business that issues home loans and significantly scale back its mortgage business in the United States.

Morgan Stanley last month said it was cutting 1,000 jobs in operations, technology and other areas because of the market downturn.

It had about a total 48,000 employees as of November.


Slowing economy not denting thirst

Coca-Cola reported Wednesday a 79 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit and maintained its growth targets despite a slowing U.S. economy.

The results posted by the world’s largest beverage maker beat Wall Street expectations, but company shares slipped 53 cents to $59.39 in Wednesday trading.

Excluding one-time items, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said it earned $1.36 billion in the quarter, or 58 cents a share, ahead of the 55 cents a share analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected.

For 2007, Coca-Cola earned $5.98 billion, or $2.57 a share, compared with $5.08 billion, or $2.16 a share, for 2006.

Treasury Department

Rule revamp ahead for packaging loans

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said financial regulators will propose changes in the rules for packaging loans into bonds in the aftermath of the subprime-credit collapse.

Paulson said it will be “a number of months” before the Presidential Working Group on Financial Markets announces its recommendations and that easing credit strains is the first “priority.”

Paulson said the panel has yet to reach conclusions on the overhaul of the process known as securitization.


Mortgage insurer loses $1.5 billion

The nation’s largest mortgage insurer, MGIC Investment, said it’s looking for ways to boost capital after announcing it lost almost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter as more homeowners struggled to make payments.

The news sent the company’s shares down more than 11 percent Wednesday.

Sears Holdings

Headquarters losing 200 job

Sears Holdings is cutting about 200 headquarters jobs as it tries to bring its overhead costs in line with falling sales and stem profit declines.

The retailer notified employees of the pending cuts in a memo late Tuesday from interim Chief Executive W. Bruce Johnson.

The jobs, in support functions, represent about 4 percent of Sears’ 5,000 employees at its Chicago headquarters.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News