MARKETS

Money-market fund assets rose by $2.38 billion to $404.48 billion in the week ended Wednesday, the Investment Company Institute reported. Average seven-day simple yields were unchanged at 7.50 percent, but 30-day yields eased to 7.54 percent from the previous week's 7.58 percent, the Donoghue Organization reported.

ECONOMY

Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner warned that the airline industry would be "severely challenged" in coming months if fuel costs remain high.

COMPANIES

Cetus Corp., a biotechnology pioneer hurt by a regulatory delay involving its anti-cancer drug interleukin-2, said it will lay off 100 workers and has accepted the resignation of its chief executive, Robert Fildes, over "differing views regarding the company's priorities."

Versar of Springfield said it formed a committee of its board to seek candidates for the position of president, a position now held by Chairman Michael Markels Jr., 64.

Hewlett-Packard said it will switch the headquarters of its Personal Computer Group from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Grenoble, France. The company said the move was prompted by the fact that international markets represent more than half of Hewlett-Packard's sales of PCs and terminals and have great potential for expansion.

ACQUISITIONS

Empire Federal Savings of Buffalo sold its $900 million auto loan portfolio to a General Electric subsidiary as part of the federal government's restructuring of the seized thrift. It is the unit's first major push into the business of holding and servicing auto loans.

INTERNATIONAL

The Bank of Canada triggered a cut to 14.25 percent in prime interest rates at the country's major banks after lowering its key measure by more than a quarter of a percentage point. Besides high interest rates and inflationary pressures, Canada's economy has been battered by a strong Canadian dollar.

Germany gave approval for the sale of sporting goods maker Adidas AG to French financier Bernard Tapie.

REGULATION

The Pentagon said it will look into whether it or Ford should get about $100 million in pension fund money from the automaker's sale this summer of its Ford Aerospace unit to Loral Corp.

Federal regulators may file a lawsuit as early as today to force failed savings and loan executive Charles Keating Jr. to turn over a list of his remaining assets, a spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision said.

Florida sought to strip operating licenses from Meyer and Larry Blinder, the two top executives of the penny-stock brokerage Blinder, Robinson & Co.

CONTRACTS

Texas Instruments said its Defense Systems & Electronics Group received a $58 million government contract for 350 high-speed anti-radar missiles.

EARNINGS

Hewlett-Packard reported a 5 percent drop in third-quarter earnings and said U.S. sales were flat.

Navistar said third-quarter earnings fell 79 percent.

Reader's Digest said its fourth-quarter earnings nearly doubled from a year ago and its full-year profit rose 15.8 percent as its revenue surpassed $2 billion for the first time. The company's profit for the year reached a record despite a wider operating loss in its special interest magazine business.

The Gap posted a 36 percent increase in second-quarter net income.

The Farm Credit System said net income dropped slightly in the second quarter as an increase in net interest income failed to offset shrinkage in the system's negative provision for loan losses.

ODD LOTS

Motorists protested rising gasoline prices by refusing to purchase fuel and driving with their headlights on. The actions were in response to pleas from about 40 radio stations nationwide urging motorists to show their displeasure about price increases since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Buyers of residential and commercial fuel oil have been rushing to fill their tanks to beat the higher prices they're sure are coming, oil vendors say. This in turn has lead several major wholesale suppliers to put limits on sales at their truck-loading terminals.

The New York Fed temporarily moved its "Fedwire" electronic funds transfer system out of the city because of a power problem, averting what could have been an unexpected bank holiday. That Fedwire branch is the nation's busiest, shuttling $900 billion worth of securities and funds among banks daily.

North Carolina has the best manufacturing climate among the nation's industrial states, a survey of business costs by the Chicago-based accounting firm Grant Thornton said. The survey cited low wages, few unions and modest unemployment benefits as contributing factors.