Northwest May Need More Savings

Northwest Airlines, whose mechanics have been on strike since Saturday, may need more than the $1.1 billion in annual worker concessions it has been seeking as fuel costs rise, chief executive Douglas M. Steenland said. Fuel is the airline's second-biggest expense, after labor, and jet fuel prices have climbed 14 percent this month.

United Gets Exit Financing Offers

UAL, United Airlines' parent company, has received four proposals from banks willing to provide $3 billion each to help it exit bankruptcy protection, chief executive Glenn F. Tilton told employees in a regular weekly message. He did not identify the banks. Lenders had offered to provide $2.5 billion each before reviewing the airline's business plan, which includes the results of a second round of cost-cutting agreements with its unions.

FAA Won't Require Child Seats

Children under 2 years old will still be allowed to sit on their parents' laps when flying on an airplane, the government said yesterday. The Federal Aviation Administration had considered making safety seats mandatory on planes for small children. That would require parents to buy extra plane tickets, which they do not now have to do for children under 2.

The FAA concluded that requiring the safety seats would prompt cost-conscious travelers to drive, which is statistically more dangerous than flying. Last year, nearly 43,000 people died in highway accidents. Thirteen died on commercial airline flights.


Former Prudential Broker Charged

A former Prudential Securities broker was charged with fraud by the U.S. attorney's office in Boston for his role in making rapid mutual fund trades that earned him more than $1 million in commissions. Martin Druffner was charged with four counts each of securities fraud and wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan of Boston.

Druffner and other brokers used deception to conduct trades for seven hedge funds between 1999 and October 2003, Sullivan said. He could face as long as 20 years in prison for each charge.

Judge Schedules Three Vioxx Trials

Merck will face at least three federal trials next year, on Feb. 13, March 13 and April 10, over claims that the painkiller Vioxx caused fatal heart attacks and strokes in some users, ruled U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleans, who is overseeing all federal litigation over the drug. The first federal Vioxx trial is to start Nov. 28. Merck, the third-largest U.S. drugmaker, now faces 4,951 lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx in state and federal courts,


Machinists Blast Boeing Offer

Boeing's machinists union, whose labor agreement is set to expire Thursday, said the initial contract proposal from the world's largest aircraft maker is "an insult" and fell short of demands. Boeing's proposal offers "meager" pension increases, reduces medical benefits for current workers, and eliminates retiree health coverage for new hires, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said. The union, Boeing's largest, is seeking higher benefits during the strongest demand for Boeing's commercial airplanes in almost five years.

The proposal isn't Boeing's best and final offer, and the two sides will keep negotiating through the weekend, Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said.


E.U. Approves J&J-Guidant Deal

The European Union cleared Johnson & Johnson's planned purchase of heart device maker Guidant provided some medical product units are sold to guarantee fair competition, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission still needs to sign off on it.

J&J had been aiming to wrap up the deal by the end of September, but that timetable became questionable when Guidant had to issue several recalls. In a regulatory filing, J&J said it hoped to complete the deal in the fourth quarter.

Toll Brothers said its profit more than doubled in the fiscal third quarter, to $215.5 million from $106 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier, due to the luxury home builder's strong land position and pricing power in its affluent markets. Revenue climbed 54 percent, to $1.56 billion.

Petco Animal Supplies said second-quarter profit fell to $18 million, from $19.3 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier, as weaker customer traffic caused sales to fall below expectations. Revenue grew 10.1 percent, to $482.7 million.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Northwest mechanics Billy Brant, left, and David Hearn picket outside the Memphis airport. No talks are scheduled in the walkout, which began last Saturday.