Business & Finance

Charles Schwab Corp. revealed Friday it's investigating a "limited number" of improper trades in mutual funds, becoming the first major discount brokerage linked to the burgeoning scandal. Schwab shares closed down nearly 8 percent on the New York Stock exchange in response. Meanwhile, American Express and Raymond James Financial said they expect to face legal action by securities regulators for failing to give appropriate discounts to investors who made large fund purchases. Money manager Legg Mason said it faces a possible $2.3 million fine.

An Alabama jury ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $11.9 billion to the state's financially strapped government Friday, finding that the oil giant committed fraud by overcharging expenses for natural-gas wells it operated in state-owned waters. An Exxon Mobil spokesman called the verdict excessive and said the company will appeal. Exxon Mobil is based in Irving, Texas.

AT&T Wireless announced it is cutting another 1,900 jobs Friday. To reduce real estate costs, the mobile telecommunications carrier has been consolidating dozens of administrative operations to its headquarters in Redmond, Calif., and to the New York-New Jersey area.

Saudi Arabia formally signed a $2 billion deal with Royal Dutch Shell of Britain and France's Total SA Saturday, to explore and produce natural gas in a southeastern desert known as "the Empty Quarter." The deal is the first to grant foreign firms access to the Gulf kingdom's vast gas resources, considered the fourth largest in the world.

Copier giant Xerox agreed to a $239 million settlement Friday in a lawsuit by retirees who claimed its main pension plan miscalculated distributions, resulting in lower benefits. Xerox, based in Stamford, Conn., reached the accord after appealing a September 2002 ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.

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