Production in U.S. factories, utilities and mines fell 0.8 percent in October from the month before, the Federal Reserve reported. It was the biggest monthly drop since September 2001. The Labor Department, meanwhile, reported that its producer price index, which measures prices of goods before they reach consumers, increased 1.1 percent in October, mostly because of higher prices for new cars, trucks and gasoline. And the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rebounded to 85 this month from 80.6 in October.

Bill Would Give Webcasters a Break

Smaller Internet music broadcasters would be allowed to pay lower copyright royalty fees than they do now under legislation passed by Congress. The measure would allow recording labels and artists who hold copyrights to set their own royalty rates for webcasters rather than use the standard imposed by the U.S. Copyright Office in June -- 70 cents for every song heard by every 1,000 people. The bill has been sent to President Bush to be signed into law.

MORE NEWS

R. Hewitt Pate will take over the Justice Department's antitrust division temporarily when Charles A. James leaves the government this month, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said.

Veritas Software said the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed information on transactions the company had in September 2000 with America Online. Veritas said AOL bought $50 million worth of software and services from Veritas. In turn, Veritas, which makes data-storage software, bought $20 million worth of advertising from AOL. Veritas said it is reviewing how it accounted for each of the transactions.

Qwest said it found more accounting mistakes that will force it to erase $358 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2000 and 2001. Qwest previously disclosed that it overstated revenue by $1.86 billion in 2000 and 2001, affecting $1.2 billion in earnings. The new disclosures in a regulatory filing bring the total affected earnings to $1.56 billion.

A federal judge approved a settlement of the civil fraud charges filed against two former WorldCom executives by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ex-controller David F. Myers and former director of general accounting Buford Yates Jr. were barred from serving as directors or officers of public companies and from practicing before the SEC as accountants.

Comcast will be the name of the new cable company that combines AT&T Broadband and Comcast. AT&T Comcast was to have been the name, but the companies decided that investors might be confused.

Gateway said the Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating its accounting since December 2000. In February 2001, the computer-maker restated 2000 earnings and the investigation appears to be related to issues that led the company to do so, a Gateway spokesman said without identifying the issues.

INTERNATIONAL

Argentina complained that new demands for reform by the International Monetary Fund obstructed the country's efforts to get emergency money. The IMF cut off aid to Argentina in December after the government stopped making payments on much of its foreign debt.

EARNINGS

ImClone Systems, whose share price has plunged this year on the discovery of insider trading at the company, said its third-quarter loss was $42 million, 2 percent larger than it was in the third quarter of 2001. Sales almost tripled to $15 million, as the company got payments from drug partner Bristol-Myers Squibb for its experimental cancer treatment, Erbitux.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Nextel Communications paid its former chief operating officer, James Mooney, more than $2.5 million in severance pay and bonuses, and forgave a $2 million loan, the Reston-based company disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mooney spent less than a year and a half on the job.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.