Oil closes above $50
The price of oil settled above $50 a barrel for the first time Friday amid concerns about tight supplies globally and hurricane-related production problems in the Gulf of Mexico.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for November delivery settled at a record $50.12 per barrel, up 48 cents. Adjusting for inflation, oil prices are roughly $30 below the peak set in 1981.
The thin global supply cushion and the slow return of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, where Hurricane Ivan roared through two weeks ago, have kept energy markets on edge for weeks.
Northwest chief leaves
Northwest Airlines chief executive officer Richard Anderson has resigned to take a top job at health-care insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc., the companies said Friday.
Anderson will become executive vice president at UnitedHealth on Nov. 1. The board of directors of Northwest's parent, Northwest Airlines Corp., elected Northwest president Doug Steenland to the additional position of CEO, effective immediately.
Anderson will remain on the Northwest board, the airline said.
Former Boeing officer receives prison sentence
A former top Air Force procurement official was sentenced to nine months in prison after admitting Friday that she helped Boeing Co. obtain an inflated price on a $23 billion contract while she sought an executive job at the company.
Darleen Druyun, of Vienna, Va., had pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to violate federal conflict-of-interest regulations. But she had previously insisted that her crime was merely a technical conflict, and that she always upheld the government's interest even as she pursued a job with Boeing.
At her sentencing in U.S. District Court, prosecutors said Druyun failed a lie detector test that was required under her initial plea bargain.
GM's September sales give boost to industry
General Motors Corp., aided by a late-month clearance sale on 2004 models, said Friday its new vehicle business rose a surprising 20 percent in September, which appeared to help push up overall industry results despite bad weather in the Southeast.
Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group also fared well, posting double-digit gains, but Ford Motor Co. struggled again despite incentive offers much the same as GM's.
Merck begins rebound
Shares of Merck & Co. crept higher Friday after plummeting a day earlier, when the company announced it would pull its blockbuster pain reliever Vioxx from the market because a study found the drug doubled patients' risk of heart attack and strokes when used long term.
Merck stock rose 31 cents to close at $33.31 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. On Thursday, Merck shares plunged $12.07, nearly 27 percent, to $33 -- its lowest close in eight years.