The job market worsened slightly in the District and Virginia in February and was essentially unchanged in Maryland, according to Labor Department data released yesterday. The District shed 1,600 jobs as its unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent, from 6.1 percent in January. Virginia lost 13,900 jobs as its unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent from 4.0 percent. And Maryland gained 1,300 jobs as its unemployment rate rose to 4.2 percent from 4.1 percent. The sharpest employment cuts in Virginia were of leisure and hospitality jobs, a sector in which companies cut 5,400 positions from their payrolls.

United Plans to Cut More Flights

United Airlines plans to reduce its flight schedule by 3.7 percent in May. Shortened work schedules will continue and some workers will remain on leave without pay as part of the cuts, the company told employees. The airline will be 12 percent under its previously planned seat capacity after the new cuts add to the 8 percent trimmed this month.

MORE NEWS

Enron's bankruptcy examiner, R. Neal Batson, asked a federal judge for subpoena power to obtain evidence from Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The three credit-rating firms "possess significant information" about Enron or its special-purpose entities, including off-the-books partnerships used to hide Enron debt, the request said. Batson is seeking to locate Enron's remaining assets.

Cell-phone companies asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block a regulation that would force them to let consumers keep their phone numbers when switching wireless carriers. Consumer advocates say not being able to retain numbers is one of the biggest barriers preventing more cell-phone users from switching in search of better service. Wireless companies say the Federal Communications Commission requirement will raise costs while doing little to increase competition. A ruling is not expected for several months.

NASD charged a small New York investment house with receiving inflated commissions from customers who wanted access to shares in hot initial public offerings. In 1999 and 2000, Invemed -- whose chief executive, Kenneth G. Langone, is on the New York Stock Exchange board -- generated as much as $2 per share from customers who received hot IPO stock, compared with the going rate of 6 cents, according to the complaint, which was NASD's sixth in an investigation of IPO allocations.

J.P. Morgan Chase was told by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may face legal action over its relationship with Enron. The bank received a "Wells notice" from the SEC, which indicates the possibility of a civil action or administrative proceeding, the bank said. The SEC would not comment.

Philip Morris USA met the deadline for a payment under the 1998 settlement between states and tobacco companies. The $2.6 billion payment to 46 states was made after an Illinois judge cut in half a $12 billion bond ordered in a suit against the firm.

More than 2.4 million tax returns were filed with free tax-preparation software provided through the Internal Revenue Service's Web site, the Treasury Department said. The figure does not include returns filed in the week before yesterday's deadline.

INTERNATIONAL

Goldman Sachs won the right to sell $1 billion in bonds for Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong by offering its services for nothing. Goldman's bond sale "is a loss leader," said Henry Lee, founder of investment firm Hendale Group, which manages $100 million. Goldman lost a big underwriting deal from Hutchison to Merrill Lynch in February.

Minghua Group International Holdings, which is developing cars that can run on both gasoline and electricity, replaced its U.S. auditor, Livingston, Wachtell & Co., after accountants refused to visit the company's Hong Kong and Chinese offices for fear of catching severe acute respiratory syndrome.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Wachovia is closing 42 branch offices in Virginia to eliminate overlapping banking operations of Wachovia and First Union, which merged in 2001. The consolidation includes 20 branches in Hampton Roads, nine in Northern Virginia, eight in the Richmond area and five in western Virginia.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association, based in Arlington, called for the United States to ban the import of textiles, apparel and footwear from Burma, citing what the group called the "cruel and repressive nature of the ruling regime." Burmese officials did not respond to calls for comment, but in the past they have said that the biggest victims of a ban on imports would be Burmese workers employed in factories making goods sold in the United States.

EARNINGS

Microsoft reported a 2 percent increase in profit for its third quarter. For the three months ended March 31, the company earned $2.79 billion. Revenue was $7.84 billion, compared with $7.25 billion in the quarter a year earlier.

Johnson & Johnson said first-quarter profit rose 13 percent from the first quarter of 2002, to $2.1 billion, on higher sales of Remicade, a medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Revenue rose 12 percent, to $9.8 billion.

General Motors reported its largest profit in almost three years, helped by the sale of its defense unit. Profit climbed to $1.48 billion, from $228 million a year earlier. Sales increased 6.8 percent, to $49.4 billion. The company benefited from higher profits in Asia and at its financing unit, while the defense-unit transaction added $505 million to earnings.

Intel reported a $915 million first-quarter profit, down from $936 million a year earlier. Sales were $6.75 billion, down from $6.78 million.

Kraft Foods said first-quarter profit rose to $848 million from $693 million in the first quarter of 2002. Sales were up to $7.36 billion from $7.15 billion.

Cargill, the largest U.S. agricultural company, said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 59 percent, to $244 million, partly because of proceeds from settlements in lawsuits against vitamin makers.

Texas Instruments said it earned $117 million in the first quarter, a reversal from a narrow loss a year earlier, as revenue grew slightly faster than the semiconductor company had expected.

Allstate recorded a $665 million profit in the first quarter to handily beat Wall Street expectations, citing higher rates for its homeowners and auto insurance and better investment results.

Motorola reported a $169 million profit in the first quarter, its third straight profitable quarter after two years of losses. The company lost $449 million in the quarter a year earlier. Sales fell to $6.04 billion from $6.18 billion.

Knight Ridder said first-quarter profit rose 84 percent from a year earlier, to $50.7 million, after a change in accounting helped earnings. The newspaper chain's sales fell less than 1 percent, to $677.4 million, as ad sales remained weak.

McClatchy, publisher of the Sacramento Bee and Minneapolis Star Tribune newspapers, said first-quarter profit rose 8.6 percent from a year earlier, to $25.3 million, as it sold more advertising. Revenue rose 3.3 percent, to $257.9 million.

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

Employees of Corning Asahi Video Products in State College, Pa., leave the factory after being told the company will close the plant, eliminating 1,000 jobs. The plant makes glass for cathode ray tubes used in TV sets.