Oil ends day lower after hitting record

NEW YORK - Oil futures retreated from a record $89 a barrel Wednesday, ending lower after government data showing larger-than-expected gas and oil supplies outweighed worries about tension in northern Iraq.

Trading was volatile throughout the session as oil futures were buffeted by a number of headlines, including news that Turkey's parliament approved a government plan to attack Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and word of an explosion at a small refinery in Montana.

Reports by the Energy Department, the International Energy Agency and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over the past week have all supported a view that oil supplies are falling as demand is growing.

But the Energy Department's inventory report Wednesday countered those perceptions.

'Inventories are rising, not falling,' said Tim Evans, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in New York. 'Demand is falling, not rising.'

Economy logged slower growth in fall

WASHINGTON - The economy logged slower growth in the early fall as troubles in the housing and credit markets weighed on companies and individuals alike, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

The Fed's fresh snapshot showed that business activity around the country was more subdued, but the report didn't suggest that such activity is in danger of collapsing.

'Economic activity continued to expand in all districts in September and early October but the pace of growth decelerated since August,' the Fed survey said.

Spending by individuals was uneven and suggested growth was slower in the early fall, the Fed said. 'The manufacturing and service sectors continued to expand, but growth weakened - mostly for products and services related to home construction and real-estate transactions,' the Fed observed.

GMAC mortgage unit to cut 3,000 jobs

MINNEAPOLIS - GMAC Financial Services said on Wednesday it would cut about 3,000 jobs, or 25 percent of the work force at its Residential Capital LLC mortgage operation.

It blamed the cuts on 'sharp downturns in the U.S. residential real estate markets and the global dislocation of the mortgage finance and credit markets.'

ResCap employs about 12,000 people after cutting 2,000 jobs earlier this year.

The company said the largest job cuts would happen in business units most affected by the drop-off in mortgage originations.

SEC examining stock sales by CEO

WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining stock sales of the chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The informal SEC inquiry of stock sales by CEO Angelo R. Mozilo has been under way for a while, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the probe has not been made public.

The inquiry was reported online Wednesday afternoon by The Wall Street Journal.

Mozilo sold some $130 million in Countrywide stock in the first half of the year through a prearranged 10b5-1 trading plan. These plans allow a company insider to set up a program in advance for such transactions and proceed with them even if he or she comes into possession of material nonpublic information.

- From wire reports