Delphi, GM Offer Early-Retirement Buyouts

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DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. and auto parts supplier Delphi Corp. announced deals with the United Auto Workers on Wednesday that would help the struggling companies cut labor costs by offering early-retirement buyouts to 113,000 U.S. hourly workers.

Dow Closes Up 82, Nasdaq Finishes Up 9

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose Wednesday on upbeat news from big companies: a patent settlement by Bristol-Myers Squibb, strong earnings from Morgan Stanley and a cost-cutting deal between General Motors Corp., Delphi Corp. and the United Auto Workers. The gains were enough to push the Dow Jones industrial average to a new five-year high.

Morgan Stanley Posts Record 1Q Revenue

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Morgan Stanley became the fourth major investment bank to post record first-quarter revenue _ and the latest beneficiary of the stock market's strong start to 2006.

Ex-Enron Treasurer: Skilling, Lay Lied

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HOUSTON (AP) _ Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay worried in 2001 that the company's mounting financial problems would jeopardize its credit rating and inquired about managing its accounting to avoid a downgrade, a former Enron treasurer testified Wednesday.

Microsoft Shares Slip 3 Percent on Delays

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SEATTLE (AP) _ Shares of Microsoft Corp. fell Wednesday after the software maker delayed the consumer release of its new operating system until January 2007, after the holiday shopping season.

Oil Futures Fall, Dragged Down by Gasoline

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Crude-oil futures fell Wednesday, dragged down by a steep drop in gasoline, even though fresh U.S. government data showed domestic supplies of oil and gasoline shrank last week.

Scientist: Merck Didn't Try to Hide Data

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A scientist who helped develop the painkiller Vioxx rejected assertions by a plaintiff's lawyer Wednesday that Merck & Co. actively tried to conceal from regulators unfavorable data about the popular arthritis drug's potential heart safety problems.

Group Sees Lower Losses for Airlines

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Higher fares and lower labor costs will help the global airline industry combat soaring jet-fuel prices and trim its losses in 2006, an industry group said Wednesday.

Cyclone Ruins Australia Banana Farmers

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INNISFAIL, Australia (AP) _ Plantation owner Kerry Alcock roamed his fields, machete in hand, seeking to salvage what he could of his banana crop. When he finds a heavy bunch still fit to sell amid the tangle of debris covering his plantation, the 58-year-old lugs it out on his back _ a method he hasn't used since his youth.

Treasury Chief: Britain Economy Is Strong

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LONDON (AP) _ British Treasury chief Gordon Brown said the country's economy is growing, with inflation on target, as he presented his 10th annual budget Wednesday.