Wholesale prices in July edged down 0.1 percent, the government said in a report seen by analysts as the last respite from inflation before the Mideast crisis sent oil prices soaring. The slight, seasonally adjusted decline in the Labor Department's Producer Price Index for finished goods, one stop short of retail, followed moderate gains of 0.2 percent in June and 0.3 percent in May.

Mortgage rates rose this week. Fixed-rate mortgages averaged 10.08 percent, up from 9.84 percent last week, while one-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged an initial rate of 8.39 percent, up from 8.38 percent last week, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said.

A local law firm's Tysons Corner office will break away from the firm to avoid conflicts of interest. The Virginia branch of Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman, which merged with the 200-lawyer firm in 1985, handles real estate, banking and commercial trial cases, mostly for lender clients. The clients of the firm's Maryland practice are mostly developers.

Eastern Air Lines announced it was raising fares by 5.3 percent because of increased jet fuel prices, while two other air carriers, Midway and Northwest, reduced their previously announced increases from 10 percent to 5.3 percent to more closely match their competitors.

Japan's trade surplus shrank 10.3 percent in July from a year earlier, largely due to increased imports, the Finance Ministry said.

General Motors said a strike by parts plant workers would halt several assembly lines in Flint and Orion Township, Mich., and Shreveport, La., idling nearly 15,000 workers.

Helmsley-Spear Inc., the commercial real estate business now headed by Leona Helmsley, is closing branches in New Jersey, Manhattan and Miami. It attributed the action to "the dramatic downturn in the economy and the real estate industry."

Kellogg sued Nabisco Brands, contending that Nabisco is trying to crush Kellogg's plans to introduce a more nutritious shredded wheat cereal.

Federal judges in Cleveland and Texas consolidated thousands of asbestos liability lawsuits in a first step toward resolving claims against manufacturers for worker deaths and illnesses. The joint class-action ruling followed a meeting of judges to consider ways of clearing a burgeoning asbestos case backlog.

Nordstrom said second-quarter earnings were down 6 percent from last year.

Northwest Airlines said second-quarter earnings fell 32.6 percent from a year earlier.

Trans World Airlines reported second-quarter earnings of $103.4 million.

Lufthansa applied to resume regular flights to Berlin for the first time since World War II.