The federal budget deficit will reach at least $337 billion and likely will go higher still for the current year, according to estimates released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The Bush administration recently projected the 2006 deficit would top $400 billion as tax cuts and costs associated with hurricane relief and the war in Iraq are factored in.

President Bush vowed to continue a crackdown on North Korea for counterfeiting American dollar bills during a White House news conference Thursday. "There is no compromise ... We are going to uphold the law and protect the currency of the American people," he said.

General Motors' net loss soared to $4.8 billion in the fourth quarter of its business year, it said Thursday. The world's largest automaker is struggling with high costs, loss of market share to foreign rivals, and sluggish sales of high-profit sport utility vehicles.

The number of women-owned businesses increased by 20 percent between 1997 and 2002, according to a report released Thursday by the Census Bureau. As with most private companies, the majority of the 6.5 million firms with female owners had no employees other than the owner. Nearly one-third of the businesses are concen-trated in healthcare and social services.

The lone survivor of West Virginia's Jan. 2 Sago Mine explosion that killed 12 men emerged from a light coma on Wednesday, his doctors said. Randal McCloy Jr., who remains in fair condition, was able to respond to simple commands.

The Environmental Protection Agency asked DuPont and seven other chemical companies to commit to making voluntary efforts to eliminate a key ingredient in the production of Teflon that's considered a possible health risk. Although DuPont, the largest maker of Teflon products, has reduced the use of emissions from perfluoro- octanoic acid by more than 90 percent in recent years and has spent decades looking for a substitute, it agreed to comply.

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