Gas Prices Sink Retail Sales

Retail sales fell 2.1 percent in August, mostly because of high gasoline prices. That was the biggest drop since November 2001 and was twice the size economists had forecast.

Industrial output was nearly flat, reflecting a widespread shutdown of oil platforms, refineries and chemical plants along the battered Gulf Coast.

Economists predicted that the fallout from Hurricane Katrina would continue as the energy industry struggles to regain its footing.


Ford May Close More Plants

Ford Motor may close more plants after a 2002 plan failed to end losses in North America, President James Padilla said.

Plant closings may be part of a restructuring that chief executive William Clay Ford Jr. plans for the fourth quarter. In August, he promised "new initiatives" that will go beyond cost-cutting to combat dwindling profit and shrinking U.S. market share.

The company got a start on plant closings with this week's agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers. The union agreed that Ford could close an Ontario casting plant, cutting 1,100 jobs.


U.S. to Sell Oil From Reserve

The Department of Energy will sell 11 million barrels of oil from the nation's emergency reserve, about one-third of what had been offered to help the Hurricane Katrina recovery, to five companies to compensate for lost supplies. The sale is the second in the history of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was created in the 1970s after the Arab oil embargo.

The storm idled more than 10 percent of the nation's refining capacity, forcing eight facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi to close. At least 10 other refineries had to slow processing because of reduced supplies of crude. The storm shut most oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and the loss of power idled oil and fuel pipelines.

Cost of Emissions Cuts Estimated

Utility companies American Electric Power, Southern, and Xcel Energy would have to spend 20 percent of their profit should they be required to meet international limits on carbon dioxide to address global warming, a study showed.

The three companies account for half of the carbon dioxide produced by the 10 biggest U.S. utility companies, according to a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a consortium of 155 institutional investors who oversee $21 trillion.

While carbon dioxide is not regulated as a pollutant in the United States, the study is based on the premise that it will be eventually.


Boeing to Miss Deliveries

Boeing will be unable to deliver 25 to 30 airplanes to customers as scheduled this month because of the continuing strike by its machinists union, the company's chief financial officer said.

James Bell told analysts that the September deliveries "obviously won't be met and made." The shortfall could be made up later if the 13-day-old strike is settled soon, though "that opportunity diminishes over time as the strike goes on," he said. Boeing has not disclosed any estimates for potential losses from the walkout.


Payment Ordered in Reebok Case

A U.S. court ordered the last of nine defendants to return $6 million they made after allegedly trading on inside information about the $3.8 billion sale of Reebok International to athletic-shoe maker Adidas-Salomon.

Lehman Brothers Holdings said its third-quarter profit rose 77 percent from the comparable period a year earlier, to $864 million, on strong performances by its investment banking and investment management units. For the period ended Aug. 31, the Wall Street firm said revenue rose 47 percent, to $3.85 billion.

Toys R Us, which is now a private company, said it lost $359 million on revenue of $2.1 billion in the quarter ended July 30, compared with a loss of $42 million on revenue of $2.02 billion. The retailer said it expects to write off as much as $20 million in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Boeing machinist Garry Schuler waves to a passing car whose driver honked at workers picketing a company building. More than 18,000 Boeing machinists went on strike Sept. 2, and the two sides have not returned to the bargaining table.