ECONOMY Factory orders failed to budge in December, the Commerce Department said, ending the year up a mere 1.4 percent. The price of gasoline dropped 4.2 cents to $1.183 per gallon on average, the lowest since the day after Iraq invaded Kuwait Aug. 2, AAA said.

COMPANIES Crestar Financial's debt rating was lowered by Standard & Poor's, which said it reflected Crestar's vulnerability to declining metropolitan D.C. real estate markets.

EARNINGS PepsiCo said its earnings rose 19.5 percent in 1990 and 31.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Manville Corp. said its 1990 earnings fell 44 percent, and its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 84 percent. Polaroid said its earnings rose 3 percent in 1990 and 18 percent in the fourth quarter. US Sprint's parent company, United Telecommunications, said its earnings dropped 15 percent for the year and 30 percent in the fourth quarter. For the year, operating profit at Sprint was $220 million before a second-quarter charge, compared with $227 million in 1989. The New York Daily News had an operating loss of $114.5 million in 1990, compared with a loss of $2.2 million in 1989. Salomon Inc. said profits fell 36 percent in 1990 and reported a $15 million loss in the fourth-quarter, compared with profits of $68 million a year ago.

CONTRACTS Northrop received a $69 million Air Force contract for B-2 bomber components.

REGULATION Sens. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced legislation aimed at skimming the "excess profits" earned by large U.S. oil companies. The bill would impose a surtax of 40 percent of the amount of a company's profit exceeding the average of the previous five years. Proceeds would be used for reduction of the deficit. Financial News Network asked the National Association of Securities Dealers for more time to file a quarterly financial report due to the SEC. The failure to file required financial reports with the SEC in a timely manner can lead to the delisting of a company's stock from Nasdaq.

PEOPLE Rockwell Anthony Schnabel was nominated to be deputy secretary of commerce. William J. Spagnoli, senior vice president of Somerset, N.J.-based City Federal Savings Bank, was charged with taking $2.5 million in bribes.