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GM shares plummet to 17-month low on credit woes

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007

Deepening concerns about deteriorating credit-market conditions helped send shares of General Motors Corp. to their lowest level in about 17 months on Monday. The automaker, in the midst of a restructuring aimed at restoring profitability, has been stung in recent months by the weak performance at GMAC Financial Services, which has struggled due to losses at its residential-mortgage business even as auto loans continue to be profitable. Shares of GM traded as low as $26.57 Monday, the lowest level since June 20, 2006. The shares fell $2.48, or 8.5 percent, Monday to close at $26.79. The stock is down 38 percent from its 52-week high of $43.20 posted on Oct. 12.

Cadillac CTS car of the year

Motor Trend Magazine has named the new Cadillac CTS its 2008 car of the year, saying it is proof that Detroit can build a world-class sedan. The award, to be announced today, is significant because it shows the world that Detroit is back in the car business after years of focusing on sport utility vehicles and trucks, said magazine editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie. The car's appearance, fit and finish, quality of materials and performance rival that of its German and Japanese competitors, MacKenzie said.

Pump prices fall again

Motorists are starting to see some relief at the gas pump, with prices falling during the weekend and following the path of crude oil as its advance toward $100 has stalled. Gas dropped 1.4 cents during the weekend to a national average of $3.095 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Prices peaked at $3.112 a gallon Thursday, and appear unlikely to rise the additional 10 to 15 cents many analysts predicted when oil appeared to be marching relentlessly toward $100 a barrel. Crude futures, meanwhile, rose Monday in a late-session rally on concerns about whether OPEC will boost output and on concerns about a move by Iran and Venezuela to have oil priced in a currency other than the dollar.

McKnight plans move

Guy Tutino's plan to build a 17-story residential and commercial building in Oakland has spurred McKnight Property to relocate its office from Oakland to the Grant Building, Downtown. In order to acquire about 1.25 acres for his building, Tutino's Polaris Real Estate Equities, based in Cleveland, bought the McKnight Building on North Craig Street, a lot owned by the Pittsburgh Public Parking Authority at North Craig and Centre Avenue and five nearby houses. McKnight principal William Rudolph said the company and McKnight Development should move in March. They have been in Oakland for 30 years.

Bayer liver drug OK'd

Bayer's Nexavar has been approved in the U.S. for the treatment of liver cancer, the company said Monday. The Food and Drug Administration extended the approval of the oral anticancer drug for the treatment of patients with the most common sort of liver cancer, Bayer said. The drug already has been approved in Europe for the treatment of liver cancer, and has been approved since 2005 for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer in more than 60 countries including the U.S. and the European Union.

Chamber building sold

A limited partnership completed its purchase of the former Chamber of Commerce building on Seventh Avenue, Downtown. Joe Kallen, owner of Kallen Development Corp. and Asset Management Associates in Oakmont, and Michael Bozzone, president of Bozzone & Associates Inc. of O'Hara, are partners in the entity known as 411 Seventh Avenue Associates LP. The purchase closed Friday, but no price was disclosed. The building is the headquarters for Duquesne Light Co., which occupies about half of the 16 floors, spokesman Joseph Vallarian said.

Earnings

• Hewlett-Packard Co.'s fourth-quarter profit easily exceeded Wall Street's expectations Monday, bolstered by surging laptop sales and continued strong demand for highly profitable printer ink. HP's net income leaped 28 percent in the three months ended Oct. 31, rising from $1.69 billion, or 60 cents per share, to $2.16 billion, or 81 cents per share. Sales jumped 15 percent from last year to $28.29 billion.

• Lowe's Cos., the No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain, said Monday that its third-quarter profit fell 10.2 percent, citing a weak sales environment amid a continuing slump in the housing sector. Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe's said it earned $643 million, or 43 cents a share, for the three months ended Nov. 2, down from $716 million, or 46 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $11.6 billion from $11.2 billion a year earlier.

Other business news

• Koppers Inc., a subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc. of Downtown, said Monday it renewed a three-year contract with Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to provide treated railroad crossties, as well as other treater products and services to the railroad company. The products will be produced at Koppers' plant in Muncy. Koppers does not expect the contract will create more jobs, spokesman Mike Snyder said. The company declined comment on the value of the deal.

• Xerox announced its first quarterly cash dividend in six years Monday, a sign that the business is again healthy, the company said Monday. A dividend of 4.25 cents per share will be payable Jan. 31 for shareholders of record on Dec. 31.

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