Business & Finance

Microsoft wraps up three days of closed-door hearings today before European Union antitrust regulators in Brussels, who are looking into allegations the world's leading software company sought to squelch competition in new markets such as multimedia software. Barring a settlement, EU regulators are expected to announce a decision next spring. They could potentially impose billions in fines on the Redmond, Wash., software giant and order changes to its flagship Windows operating system.

Ford Motor Co. protested a cut in its credit rating, to one notch above "junk" status, by the Standard & Poor's rating agency Wednesday. The downgrade brought Ford's $180 billion debt to the lowest level still considered investment grade, a key qualification for some large institutional investors in corporate debt. Ford is the world's No. 2 automaker.

In what may be the first such suit in the computer industry, Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) was accused of forcing thousands of employees to work unpaid overtime Wednesday. Two ex-workers who claim they put in as much as 20 extra hours a week brought the suit, and attorneys said they plan to seek class-action status. The day before, the consulting and systems integration company announced a 16 percent rise in net income for the fiscal year. CSC has 92,000 employees and is based in El Segundo, Calif.

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