AUTOMOTIVE

GM Names New Finance Chief

General Motors has appointed Frederick A. Henderson chief financial officer and vice chairman to help end losses in North America. Henderson, 47, slashed jobs at money-losing GM Europe, where he was chairman. He will replace John M. Devine, who will be a vice chairman, GM said in a written statement.

Henderson will help chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. eliminate 30,000 factory jobs and close 12 facilities in North America, where GM has lost $4.8 billion from its auto operations this year.

"His background seems to be in line with what is needed in the U.S., which is getting people off the payroll." said Brian Johnson, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York.

GM's U.S. market share, which was 51 percent in 1962, fell to 26 percent through 11 months of this year as Asian makers approached 40 percent for the first time.

ECONOMY

Factory Orders, Productivity Rise

Orders to U.S. factories increased in October, and third-quarter productivity rose by the largest amount in two years.

The Commerce Department reported that orders for manufactured goods rose by 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $399.8 billion in October following a 1.4 percent September decline that was blamed on disruptions from the Gulf Coast hurricanes and a strike at aircraft giant Boeing.

The Labor Department said the productivity of U.S. workers, the biggest factor determining future living standards, raced up at an annual rate of 4.7 percent in the July-September quarter, the best showing in two years.

ENERGY

Winter Heating Forecast Lowered

Winter heating bills may be slightly lower than previously forecast for customers using natural gas and heating oil, the federal Energy Information Administration said.

The agency released an updated winter home heating forecast that says average natural gas customers nationally should expect to pay 38 percent more than last year -- down from last month's forecast calling for a 41 percent increase. Those using heating oil should expect to pay about 21 percent more than last year, down from last month's forecast of a 27 percent increase.

Former Duke Executive Cleared

Todd Reid, 43, a former vice president of a Houston-based Duke Energy unit, was found not guilty on all counts of conspiracy, fraud and falsifying books. Another former vice president, Timothy Kramer, 41, was acquitted of four counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and circumventing Duke internal controls, but jurors are deliberating 12 remaining counts.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

J&J May Not Raise Guidant Offer

Johnson & Johnson signaled that it may not raise its $21.5 billion offer to buy Guidant, the No. 2 maker of implantable defibrillators, after Boston Scientific made a higher bid Monday.

"We continue to believe that the acquisition . . . represents full and fair value," Johnson & Johnson chief executive William Weldon said. The company cut its offer by almost $4 billion after Guidant recalled 109,000 faulty defibrillators.

INSURANCE

C.V. Starr Offers Share Buyout

C.V. Starr offered a 42 percent premium to buy out American International Group executives who own the company's shares.

C.V. Starr, a private group of insurance agencies started by AIG founder Cornelius V. Starr, offered $426 for each share, $126 more than they were sold for last year. AIG expects "most or all" executives will accept, the company said in a regulatory filing.

C.V. Starr is run by Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, who was removed as AIG's chief executive in March in an accounting probe. Greenberg is severing C.V. Starr's ties to AIG as it seeks an independent future in investing.

Sears Holdings had a third-quarter profit of $58 million on revenue of $12.2 billion. Sears Holdings was formed after the merger of Kmart Holding and Sears, which was completed in March. The results are not comparable to third-quarter results a year ago because those do not reflect the merger. Had the two companies been combined as of the beginning of fiscal 2004, their combined third-quarter 2004 profit would have been $552 million on revenue of $4.4 billion.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

GM's new chief financial officer, Frederick A. Henderson, has been overseeing a major restructuring at GM Europe, where he is chairman.