MARKETS

NYSE Settles Acquisition Suit

The New York Stock Exchange agreed to an independent financial review of its proposed $6 billion acquisition of electronic rival Archipelago Holdings. The decision settled a suit brought by a group of dissident exchange seat owners.

A vote on the deal is scheduled for Dec. 6. State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos approved the settlement, commending both sides for reaching an accord after two days of testimony in the suit. The plaintiffs were in court seeking a postponement of the seat holder and shareholder votes.

TRANSPORTATION

Panel Questions Amtrak Firing

Amtrak Chairman David M. Laney, left, defended a decision by the railroad's board last week to fire David L. Gunn as president. In testimony before the House railroad subcommittee, Laney said Gunn's firing followed multiple disagreements about the railroad's strategy.

Several House members questioned whether Amtrak's board had the legal power to remove Gunn, but Laney said the board was within its rights.

Gunn said that his firing came as a surprise but that he had known the board was unhappy with him, mostly because of his opposition to splitting off the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak. He said he was fired because he was "merely an obstacle to destroying Amtrak."

AIRLINES

Delta Pilots: Strike No Bluff

More than 800 Delta Air Lines pilots and their spouses rallied in to protest the company's attempt to impose deep pay and benefit cuts. The pilots said their strike threat is not a bluff.

A bankruptcy judge is scheduled to hear today the airline's request to reject the pilot contract. The carrier, which filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 14, has said it will impose $325 million in concessions on its 6,000 pilots if it gets its way in court.

AVIATION

Boeing to Build Bigger 747

Boeing will build a bigger and more efficient version of its 747 jumbo jet to challenge Airbus's new A380 in the market for planes seating more than 400 passengers. The 747-8 model, left, which follows two failed attempts to stretch the design in the 1990s, will borrow technology from Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, including new engines, to reduce trip costs by 20 percent. Airbus pushed back the delivery date for the A380 by six months because of production delays.

The 747-8 will have about 450 seats, 34 more than the current 747-400 model, and carry 15 more tons of freight. It has a list price of $278 million. The A380 seats 555 and costs $280 million in the passenger version and $300 million as a freighter.

ECONOMY

Retail Sales Beat Expectations

Retail sales performed far better than expected in October as consumers took encouragement from falling gasoline prices to head back to the shopping malls. The Commerce Department said overall sales dipped a slight 0.1 percent, with the weakness coming from a big 3.6 percent drop in auto sales, spurred by the removal of attractive discounts automakers used during the summer.

Excluding autos, retail sales rose a solid 0.9 percent. Also working to hold back retail sales was a 0.8 percent decline in sales at gasoline stations, reflecting a retreat in pump prices.

Wholesale Prices Rise 0.7%

The Labor Department said wholesale prices rose by 0.7 percent in October after an even sharper 1.9 percent increase in September. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, fell by 0.3 percent, the biggest one-month decline in more than two years.

The jump in wholesale prices reflected a 4.1 percent rise in energy prices, which came on top of a 7.1 percent jump in September. Gasoline prices fell by 3.3 percent, but residential natural gas was up 12.7 percent and residential electric power rose by a record 2.9 percent.

Home Depot reported a nearly 17 percent jump in third-quarter profit, to $1.54 billion from $1.32 billion in the comparable period last year, surpassing Wall Street expectations. Revenue rose 10.5 percent, to $20.74 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.6 percent.

Staples, the world's largest office-supply retailer, said third-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $237.8 million from $208.9 million, helped by contract sales to business customers. Revenue grew 11 percent, to $4.25 billion, lifted by an 18 percent gain in North American delivery sales.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Delta pilot Ken March asks union officials a question during a meeting in Atlanta yesterday.