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In mixed results, Detroit's Big Three automakers posted their highest monthly sales this year, though July figures were down from the same month last year. General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, said sales of its brands, excluding Saab, were off 5.7 percent in July compared with 2002 - better than many Wall Street analysts had expected. Ford Motor Co.'s total sales fell 11.5 percent, while Chrysler Group, US unit of Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG, saw a drop of 7.5 percent.

Delaying a possible strike, Verizon and two unions agreed to continue talks on a new contract beyond Saturday's midnight deadline. The unions represent some 80,000 telephone operators and line technicians, about 35 percent of the company's work force. Verizon is the nation's No. 1 local phone provider.

ChevronTexaco Corp. will sell up to $6 billion in assets, such as lagging oil fields, refineries, and half of its company-operated gas stations in the US, the nation's No. 2 oil firm said Friday. It unveiled the streamlining plan after reporting second-quarter profits quadrupled to $1.6 billion, or $1.50 per share. The company, formed by the 2001 merger of Chevron and Texaco, is under merger-related restrictions on asset sales that expire Oct. 9.

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Boeing Co. won a US Air Force contract to design proposed hardware and software upgrades for its 32 AWACS electronic surveillance planes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, valuing the deal at about $1 billion. Boeing, the nation's third-largest defense contractor, plans to hire some 200 workers for the project, the paper said.

Safety-Kleen, the nation's top handler of hazardous waste, said Friday that a federal bankruptcy court had approved its reorganization plan. The company, based in Plano, Texas, filed for Chapter 11 in June 2000 and said it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in the third quarter.

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