U.S. auto sales fell 33 percent overall in October from their year-earlier level. General Motors said its sales dropped 32 percent. Ford sales fell 34 percent and Chrysler sales fell 31 percent. Toyota sales were down 21 percent, in part because of the West Coast port shutdown early in the month. Ford sales increased 36 percent in October 2001 compared with October 2000, while GM's October 2001 sales rose 31 percent and Chrysler's were up 5 percent in the same period. Meanwhile, GM scaled back the interest-free loans that bolstered car sales in the past year and instead will offer customers more cash back on most 2003-model passenger vehicles.

Airline Chiefs Want Arbitration

Airline chief executives, including American's Donald J. Carty and Delta's Leo F. Mullin, are seeking legislation to require airlines and unions to settle labor disputes in binding arbitration. The executives helped form a group of former politicians, business leaders and airport heads to lobby for the overhaul of the Railway Labor Act as soon as next year. Airline executives say the law fosters contract talks that drag on for years and add billions of dollars of costs. Union leaders say the changes the airlines are seeking would take away workers' rights.


Thomas J. Erickson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission resigned effective Dec. 1. The departure of Erickson, a Democrat, will leave the commission with one Democrat and three Republicans, including Chairman James E. Newsome. Commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three can come from one political party.

United Airlines pilots union leaders approved a concession plan intended to help the company avoid a bankruptcy filing. The agreement, which still must be approved by union members, would provide the company with $2.2 billion in labor savings over 51/2 years. The pilots and other unions at the world's second-largest airline have been negotiating with the company on how to achieve $5.8 billion in savings over that period.

Wyeth Nutrition is recalling nearly 1 million cans of powdered infant formula sold under various store brands because of a bacterium found in samples taken at a Vermont manufacturing plant. The brands being recalled include: Baby Basics, CVS, Home Best, Healthy Baby, Kozy Kids, Hill Country Fare, HEB, Little Ones, Parent's Choice, Safeway Select and Walgreen's. The cans have expiration dates ranging from July 28, 2005, to Sept. 28, 2005, stamped on the bottom. Consumers can return the cans to the place of purchase.

Napster won final approval of a $250,000 loan that it will use to cover expenses while it negotiates a sale of substantially all of its assets in a proposed $5 million deal. The bankrupt Internet music provider estimates that it will have $200,000 in costs through Nov. 22 and $50,000 through Dec. 24, according to a budget submitted to the court. Without the loan, the company would have to liquidate.

General Electric's retired chairman, Jack Welch, and his estranged wife said they settled on temporary alimony, forestalling a hearing Monday that might have revealed further details of their lavish lifestyles. William Zabel, attorney for Jane Welch, has said Welch was providing his client with $35,000 per month in support. He said she was seeking more because that amount left her far below the couple's previous standard of living.


ABB, Europe's biggest electrical-engineering company, said it may pay $1.1 billion to settle more than 100,000 asbestos claims, a move that would include placing a U.S. business into bankruptcy protection. The payments would include $812 million in assets of Connecticut-based Combustion Engineering and another $300 million from ABB. The company is talking to the lawyers of people who are suing and said the effort may take four to six months.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones News Service.