The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that data recorders be required in all passenger vehicles. The recommendation came in a report of probable cause of a car crash that killed 10 people and injured 63. Investigators concluded the 86-year-old driver had stepped on the gas instead of the brake and plowed into a farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif., but they came to that determination without testimony from the driver, who refused on his lawyer's advice to talk with the investigators. The NTSB recommended black boxes two months after the top federal auto safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said it saw no need to require them because automakers are adding them voluntarily to more models.

Refinance Cash-Outs Drying Up

Freddie Mac said the amount of home equity converted into cash by home loan refinancing probably will fall 48 percent to a four-year low in 2004 as interest rates rise and lending drops. The federally chartered mortgage finance company expects so-called cash-out loans, or mortgages refinanced at higher balances, to tumble to $71.7 billion this year from a record $138.1 billion in 2003.

MORE NEWS

Wachovia said the Securities and Exchange Commission may take enforcement action related to alleged improper mutual fund trading and to stock purchases made by current and former executives following the April 2001 announcement that First Union agreed to buy Wachovia. The SEC also may take action against Wachovia, the fifth-largest U.S. bank, related to alleged rapid trading of mutual fund shares by a former employee and an outside broker and trading by a former manager in the fund he oversaw.

Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, sued five Internet pharmacies and sought to seize the domain names of more than two dozen others to stop the sale of counterfeit Viagra, the top-selling male impotence drug. About 20 percent of men who buy erectile dysfunction medicines do so over the Internet, Pfizer said, citing a national survey of 676 men older than 35.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration must disclose illness and injury rates for employers with the worst safety records, a federal judge ruled. The ruling came in response to a 2002 Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times. The newspaper had asked for records on 13,000 companies, but OSHA denied it, saying the data was confidential. OSHA's parent, the Labor Department, said providing the information would be too labor intensive.

Fidelity Brokerage Services agreed to pay fines of $1 million to the SEC and $1 million to the New York Stock Exchange to settle allegations that employees in nearly two dozen of its branch offices altered and destroyed documents, including applications to open brokerage accounts, authorization letters for trades and other financial documents, prior to annual inspections. Boston-based Fidelity Brokerage, a division of Fidelity Investments, neither admitted nor denied the allegations and was censured by the NYSE. As a result of Fidelity's internal investigation, 13 employees were fired.

UAL, the parent company of United Airlines, asked a bankruptcy court judge to halt pension lawsuits by the International Association of Machinists while the company reorganizes. The union filed suits in New Jersey and Illinois protesting the company's decision to halt contributions to its employee pension plans while in bankruptcy reorganization.

Anthem sued California's insurance commissioner for blocking its proposed $16.4 billion merger with WellPoint Health Networks, a deal that would create the nation's largest health insurer.

More than 9,000 Caterpillar workers will strike Thursday if negotiations that began nearly eight months ago fail to yield a new contract with the heavy equipment giant, United Auto Workers officials said. Both sides said they remained hopeful that talks can avoid a repeat of the bitter, 61/2-year stalemate that spawned two failed strikes before the two sides agreed to their last contract.

321 Studios, a maker of software that enables users to copy DVDs and computer games, folded under the mounting weight of lawsuits by deep-pocketed movie studios and video game producers. In a posting on its Web site, 321 Studios announced "it has ceased business operations including, but not limited to, the sale, support and promotion of our products."

Hewlett-Packard, in a sign the Linux operating system may be gaining traction beyond servers and other back-room systems, will be the first major PC maker to ship a business notebook computer preinstalled with the open-source software. It will start at an estimated street price of about $1,140 -- about $60 less than the basic model outfitted with Microsoft's Windows XP Professional operating system.

The Labor Department ousted four officials from a plumbers union pension fund and is seeking nearly $11 million to settle its claims that retirement funds were improperly invested in a Florida hotel. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the plumbers' trustees mismanaged the $100 million investment, placing workers' retirement benefits at risk.

Bausch & Lomb agreed to pay $12.5 million in cash to settle a class-action shareholder lawsuit alleging that the Rochester, N.Y., eye-care products manufacturer overstated profits by $18 million during three quarters in 1999 and 2000. The company's stock rose to $80 a share from late January to late August 2000, then fell back to $42 when Bausch & Lomb disclosed financial and operating problems.

INTERNATIONAL

The European Commission accused credit card company Visa International of restricting competition in the 25-nation market. The European Union's head office is concerned that Visa could be discriminating against selected companies by not allowing them to use its computerized network, which connects merchants to allow customers to pay by credit card, the commission said. The commission's formal statement of objections follows a complaint in April 2000 by rival credit card company Discover -- operated by U.S. investment banking giant Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

LOCAL BUSINESS

General Dynamics will team with Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems to build its first unmanned spy planes and will market them to the United States for border patrol and other uses. The Falls Church defense contractor has provided sensors for some unmanned spy planes but has not produced any complete aircraft for the United States on its own.

EARNINGS

Prudential Financial said that its second-quarter earnings more than tripled over the same period last year, to $519 million, on higher income from investments and gains in the insurance and financial service company's retirement savings unit.

Qwest Communications reported a wider second-quarter loss, citing lower local telephone service sales and costs associated with ongoing litigation and job cuts. For the April-to-June quarter, the regional telephone company lost $776 million, compared with a loss of $64 million in the second quarter of 2003.

Revlon reported a second-quarter loss of $38.9 million, compared with a loss of $37.8 million, including a $7 million tax benefit, a year ago. Revlon has been working to reduce its debt by no less than $930 million by March 2006. It has already reduced its debt by $780 million.

Ryanair Holdings, Europe's largest low-cost airline, said first-quarter profit rose 30 percent, to $63.2 million, as it cut fares and boosted sales with Internet hotel bookings.

Tenet Healthcare, the number-two U.S. hospital chain, said its second-quarter loss more than doubled, to $426 million from a loss of $195 million in the same quarter a year earlier, because of an increase in unpaid bills and a write-down in the value of hospitals being sold. The company said that its chief financial officer is resigning and that it received a subpoena Friday from U.S. prosecutors in New Orleans regarding doctor relationships at three hospitals.

Tyco International reported a 63 percent year-over-year gain in third-quarter profit, to $922.6 million, on an 11 percent revenue increase, to $10.45 billion.

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

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