General Motors said it would lay off 10,300 employees early next year when it shuts down five of its U.S. plants temporarily. GM will furlough workers at plants in Arlington, Tex.; Janesville, Wis.; Oklahoma City; and at two factories in Lansing, Mich., for one to four weeks. GM and Ford Motor said last month that they would cut North American production in 2004's second half by a combined 5.6 percent. GM has about 1.2 million unsold vehicles.
Southwest May Assign Seats
Southwest Airlines is considering assigning seats on its flights. The airline has said assigning seats would take too much time and prevent it from loading and unloading passengers in less than 20 minutes at an airport gate. But Southwest said tests showed the airline can still meet its schedule with assigned seats, especially because technology has made other operations more efficient. Assigned seating could begin within a year after the airline decided to do it.
Mortgage rates declined again for the week ended yesterday, Freddie Mac said. Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.64 percent, down from 5.69 percent last week. For 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, rates dropped to 5.01 percent from 5.07 percent. For one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages, rates fell to 3.96 percent from 4.02 percent.
Wachovia shareholders approved a $14.3 billion merger with Alabama's SouthTrust. The Federal Reserve Board approved the merger this month, and the banks have announced that they plan to close the deal Monday.
Quest Diagnostics, the biggest U.S. operator of medical testing laboratories, said it received federal subpoenas for documents related to an exam that can be used for dialysis patients. Federal prosecutors in New York also have issued subpoenas related to the same kinds of tests from DaVita, Renal Care Group and Fresenius's medical care unit, the companies disclosed earlier this week.
Help-wanted advertising volume in major U.S. newspapers fell in September to its lowest level in 16 months, a Conference Board study found.
DaimlerChrysler said it had been notified that it was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission after a fired employee complained to labor officials. The investigation was based on an act that bars U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials and requires compliance controls. DaimlerChrysler denied the allegations.
Verizon Communications may sell or spin off 14 million of its 54 million phone lines to raise cash for investments in faster-growing areas including high-speed Internet access. Verizon recently sold 700,000 phone lines in Hawaii for $1.65 billion.
The recording industry sued 750 more people as part of its legal action against online music file sharing. The lawsuits include complaints against 25 people at 13 universities suspected of using the schools' computer networks to send such files over the Internet, the Recording Industry Association of America said.
The Canadian government offered to guarantee loans of as much $1.2 billion to Bombardier to support the sale of as many as 45 regional passenger jets to Air Canada. The guarantee is designed to help Montreal-based Bombardier get money from private investors to produce the jets. Last month, as it emerged from bankruptcy protection, Air Canada said it intended to buy at least 30 Bombardier regional jets worth $821 million and as many as 45 regional jets from the Brazilian company Embraer.
Hollinger Inc. said Conrad Black, its former chief executive, plans to take the Canadian holding company private by having Ravelston, which he owns, buy out minority shareholders at a yet-to-be-determined price. Hollinger Inc. owns 18 percent of Chicago-based Hollinger International, which publishes the Sun-Times, and holds a majority of its votes.
Kyocera Wireless of San Diego recalled about 1 million cell phone batteries because some may be counterfeit and may short-circuit, overheat and burn users. The recalled batteries, made in China and finished for sale by Hecmma Group of El Paso, were sold nationwide at Alltel, Cricket Communications, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless stores, as well as by telemarketing retailers, various Web sites and regional phone carriers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advised consumers to stop using the batteries and store them with nonflammable materials. If users do not hear from Kyocera, they should contact the company to receive a free replacement battery. Kyocera can be reached at 866-559-3882.
GlaxoSmithKline reported a 9 percent drop in third-quarter earnings to $1.97 billion, compared with the same period last year, citing stiff competition from generic drugmakers for the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin. Revenue fell 8 percent, to $9.18 billion, compared third-quarter 2003.
Medco Health Solutions said third-quarter earnings rose 18 percent to $118.1 million. Higher drug prices and greater use of lower-cost generic medicines offset nearly flat revenue, which increased by 2 percent to $8.7 billion.
Viacom lost $487.6 million in the third quarter as it took a $1.5 billion charge for its separation from the Blockbuster video rental chain. Revenue for the media conglomerate that owns CBS and MTV rose 4 percent to $5.48 billion.
Aetna said third-quarter earnings increased to $1.29 billion from $215.9 million on a $740 million tax refund and membership growth. Revenue rose 13 percent, to $5.04 billion.
CSX rebounded to a $123 million profit in the third quarter from a $103 million loss in the third quarter last year, which included $219 million in special charges. Revenue rose 5 percent to $1.98 billion.
Coca-Cola Enterprises, the largest bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, said profit fell 20 percent to $207 million. Revenue dropped 1.4 percent, to $4.67 billion.
Tribune Co., the second-largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said third-quarter profit fell after it reimbursed advertisers $55 million for inflating circulation figures. Profit was $121.7 million, down from $182.3 million. Revenue increased 2 percent to $1.41 billion.
Dow Chemical said third-quarter earnings rose 86 percent to $617 million. Revenue was up 25 percent to $10 billion.
Verizon Communications said third-quarter profit held steady as gains in its wireless unit offset declining revenues from traditional phone services. Profit was $1.8 billion up from $1.79 billion. Revenue increased 6.7 percent to $18.2 billion.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia widened its third-quarter loss on declining advertising revenues. The multimedia company posted a loss of $14.97 million, compared with a loss of $3.94 million. Revenue fell 24.4 percent, to $38.69 million.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers