Owners of small businesses are more pessimistic about the prospects for their companies and the economy now than they have been since the deep recession of 1982, says a national survey that will appear in the November/December issue of D&B Reports.

Consumer hoarding has helped drive up heating-oil prices but supplies should be sufficient unless there's a war or the winter is unusually cold, said Charles DiBona, president of the oil industry's American Petroleum Institute.

USX Corp.'s board voted to make the steel-energy giant's steel operations a separate company in a move that could pave the way for a restructuring.

Ernest C. Garcia II, an Arizona developer, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the collapse of Lincoln Savings and Loan. Garcia was accused of participating in fraudulent transactions that inflated the income of the now-failed thrift, including the sale of 1,000 acres near Phoenix by a Lincoln subsidiary, in which he reportedly received a $30 million line of credit from Lincoln.

The average price of regular gasoline sold nationwide held steady during the past week, breaking a five-week string of price increases, the American Automobile Association said.

Wrangler said it will make 1 million pairs of camouflage trousers for American military troops in the Persian Gulf under a contract valued at more than $17 million.