Consumer confidence declined for the third consecutive month, a result of continuing concern about employment, the Conference Board said. The October index dropped 3.9 points, to 92.8, the lowest since March, when the reading was 88.5. The decline was steeper than expected.

Some Charges Against Rigas Dropped

Bank fraud charges against former Adelphia Communications executive Michael J. Rigas have been dropped, but prosecutors say they hope to retry him for securities fraud. Rigas's trial, at which his father and brother, former Adelphia officers, were convicted for their roles in accounting fraud, ended in a jury deadlock earlier this year. A U.S. district judge said he will later rule on whether to dismiss the securities fraud charges, as Rigas's lawyer has requested.

MORE NEWS

AT&T agreed to pay $100 million to settle a lawsuit by shareholders who claimed the carrier lied about sales while preparing to spin off AT&T Wireless and complete the purchase of cable provider MediaOne Group. The payment will be split between AT&T and MediaOne, which was bought by Comcast in 2002, a spokesman said. Investors sought $2.4 billion in damages.

The class-action investors' suit against WorldCom and its investment banks, accountants and executives was postponed until Feb. 28 so it wouldn't conflict with the Jan. 18 fraud and conspiracy trial of former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers. The cases share many witnesses and are being tried in New York federal court.

NASA unveiled a new supercomputer at its Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., that is powerful enough to claim the title of world's fastest supercomputer. Capable of calculating 42.7 trillion calculations per second, the supercomputer was built as a collaboration among the agency, Silicon Graphics and Intel.

Electronic Data Systems said it would offer early retirement to 9,200 U.S. employees, or 17.4 percent of its domestic workforce, and plans to take a $150 million charge in the fourth quarter as a result, based on the assumption that half the eligible workers will accept the offer.

In a ruling that could have broad implications for the replacement parts market, a federal appeals court said Lexmark cannot stop competitors from selling replacement ink cartridges for its printers. Lexmark had tried to enforce a copyright on software that ran an authentication sequence to prevent the use of "unauthorized" cartridges. But a Cincinnati appeals court panel said the program didn't show a "creative flair" worthy of protection and existed simply to block competition. The panel's decision overturned a ruling that blocked Static Control Components from selling parts that could be used to rebuild cartridges for Lexmark printers.

The federal government released its first batch of crash-test ratings for selected 2005 model-year vehicles, including a series of rollover ratings for several new pickup trucks. None of the 11 tested pickups tipped onto two wheels during driving tests, but the Ford Ranger 4x4 and the Mazda B-Series 4x4 were found to have a 30.6 percent chance of rolling over during a single-vehicle accident. They got the lowest ratings of the bunch, at two stars each on a five-star scale. The rollover and crash-test ratings are available at www.safercar.gov.

News Corp. shareholders voted overwhelmingly to move the media conglomerate's main listing to the New York Stock Exchange, putting it a step further from its native Australia.

Aaron Feuerstein's bid to buy back Malden Mills and regain control of the textile maker his family ran for three generations was rejected by the company's board. Feuerstein resigned as president and board chairman in June after a change in the board's makeup following the company's emergence from bankruptcy protection last fall.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has approved an increase of nearly 50 percent in its annual budget, to $152.8 million, to be used for inspecting auditing firms, hiring new inspectors and buying equipment. The board's funding comes from fees on public companies, and its budget must be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

INTERNATIONAL

The European Commission warned that rising oil prices will affect economic growth next year and that the euro's renewed climb could threaten crucial exports. The European Union's head office also told the euro zone's biggest governments they need to do more to comply with budgetary rules.

The European Union closed antitrust cases against six Hollywood studios after they agreed to drop clauses in contracts with pay-television operators. The E.U. said the clauses in question artificially inflated film prices by requiring that the best terms offered to one studio be offered to all. The clauses come into play when pay-television operators buy rights to a studio's movies or television programming. Withdrawing the clauses were Buena Vista International, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and DreamWorks.

Food and food ingredients derived from Monsanto's new genetically modified corn product were approved for immediate use by the European Commission, which said the authorization is valid for 10 years. It said that the product, NK603 maize, has undergone thorough health checks and that labeling rules will make its inclusion clear to consumers.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Independence Federal Savings Bank of the District said it has called off its $33 million merger agreement with Carver Bancorp after federal regulators denied their merger application. In a joint news release, Thomas L. Batties, acting president of Independence, and Deborah C. Wright, chief executive of Carver, said that they cannot address regulators' concerns and that they will terminate their agreement, which would have created the largest majority-black-owned bank in the country.

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said Corporate Executive Board will move its headquarters from the District to a new, 1 million-square-foot project in Rosslyn in the region's largest commercial real estate transaction this year. The publicly traded company is investing $227 million in the project, called Waterview, which is being developed by Chevy Chase-based JBG. Construction is to begin in January and be completed in mid-2007.

EARNINGS

Halliburton reported a $44 million loss, compared with a profit of $58 million in the same quarter a year earlier, due to $230 million in charges to pay for a settlement of asbestos claims. Revenue rose to $4.79 billion.

United States Steel beat analysts' estimates and swung to a profit of $354 million, compared with a loss of $354 million in the same period last year. Results were boosted by higher prices domestically and abroad as well as a $24 million tax gain from audit settlements. Revenue rose about 47 percent, to $3.73 billion.

Massey Energy swung to a third-quarter profit of $2 million, compared with a loss of $3.8 million in the same period last year. The Richmond coal producer's quarterly revenue climbed to $430.4 million from $390.8 million.

BP nearly doubled its profit to $4.48 billion from $2.34 billion in the same quarter a year earlier, helped by high oil and gas prices and bigger profit margins in refining. Revenue rose to $73.9 billion from $59.2 billion.

Marathon Oil said third-quarter profit fell 21 percent, to $222 million from $281 million in the same quarter a year earlier, as Hurricane Ivan slashed production in the Gulf of Mexico. But record-high crude oil prices helped the Houston integrated oil company increase its revenue 19 percent, to $12.3 billion.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said its third-quarter loss narrowed to $26.7 million, from $32.6 million in the same period last year, largely on better home-video and TV-programming sales. Revenue declined to $401.3 million from $457.1 million.

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

U2's Bono, left, and Apple chief executive Steve Jobs introduced a larger-capacity iPod with a color display as well as a first-of-its-kind digital compendium of the rock band's songs. The new iPod Photo has a color screen that can display photos and slide shows accompanied by music. A 60-gigabyte model that can hold 25,000 photos is available.