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Top 3 Business Stories of the Day

Chrysler Group's fourth-quarter net income more than quadrupled to $1.62 billion, aided by $962 million in one-time tax benefits. Without the benefits, the company made $659 million, still 74 percent more than a year ago. Chrysler's performance helped to prop up Fiat, its Italian owner, which made $345 million excluding one-time items. Without earnings from Chrysler, Fiat would have lost $321 million. The industry hopes the latest figures suggest the decline in Europe - Fiat's traditional stronghold - has bottomed out. Steve Fowler, Editor of Auto Express, says Fiat needs Chrysler now, not the other way around: For the full year, Chrysler made $1.8 billion excluding tax benefits, its best performance since leaving bankruptcy in 2009. Swiss drug maker Novartis AG reported a 2% rise in fourth-quarter net income Wednesday that missed expectations as growing sales of its newest products failed to offset a slowdown in an older but still important drug. Net income rose to $2.06 billion from $2.02 billion a year earlier, but missed analyst forecasts of $2.4 billion. Basel-based Novartis forecast sales would grow in the low to mid-single digits. Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that it had agreed to sell for about $1 billion a minority interest in an offshore Brazilian oil project to Qatar Petroleum International, the emirate’s vehicle for oil and gas investments abroad. The Brazilian project, called Parque das Conchas, fits the pattern of assets that Shell and other large oil companies are looking to sell as investors demand better returns from capital spending that has soared in recent years. Shell is raising money while not giving up control by selling 23 percent of its stake and keeping the remaining 50 percent. It will also save capital on a possible third stage of the project, a midsize oil field that began producing in 2009 and now yields 50,000 barrels per day.

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