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Business in brief: U.S. factory orders slowest in 3 months

Orders to U.S. factories turned in the slowest performance in three months in May as a surge in demand for commercial aircraft was not enough to offset weakness in autos, heavy machinery and steel.

Factory orders rose by 0.6 percent in May, less than half the gains turned in during April and March, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Analysts said the figures have been inflated by big increases in the cost of refined petroleum and related products.


Microsoft seeks help in Yahoo takeover bid

Unable to strike a deal on its own, Microsoft Corp. reportedly is hoping to snap up Yahoo’s online search operations with the help of News Corp. and Time Warner Inc.

Recognizing Yahoo’s vulnerability, Microsoft is trying to recruit News Corp., Time Warner’s AOL or other media partners to put together a joint bid that would slice Yahoo into pieces, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing undisclosed people familiar with the discussions.

Microsoft declined comment. A Yahoo spokesman was unavailable for comment.


American may cut 900 attendant jobs

American Airlines says it could cut 900 flight attendant jobs as it reduces flights to cope with record high fuel costs.

The Fort Worth-based airline expects to reduce jobs for pilots and mechanics too, but it hasn’t released numbers yet.

American, the nation’s largest carrier, said Wednesday that job cuts were necessary “to overcome near-term challenges and secure our company’s long-term future.”

American has about 18,000 active flight attendants, so 900 jobs represents 5 percent of the ranks.


UnitedHealth Group announces restructuring

UnitedHealth Group Inc. cleared its decks of bad news on Wednesday, announcing a lower profit outlook, a restructuring that will trim 4,000 jobs and a $900 million payout to settle a class-action lawsuit.

UnitedHealth said its restructuring would change operations on every level to focus more on regional coverage. The new UnitedHealth will be “simpler, leaner and faster,” chief executive Stephen J. Hemsley said.

Analysts were encouraged by the news from UnitedHealth, the nation’s second-largest health insurer.

From wire reports