Regulators studying GM gear shift levers

Federal safety regulators are investigating problems with the automatic shift levers on several General Motors cars because drivers may think the cars are in park when they actually are in gear. Seven crashes have been reported because of the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday in documents posted on its website. NHTSA said the protective jacket around cables connecting the floor shift lever to the transmission can deteriorate, exposing the cables to the elements. The probe began with complaints about the Saturn Aura midsize car from the 2007 and 2008 model years, but the agency said it is checking to see if the problems extend to other GM vehicles. The Chevrolet Malibu from the 2004 to 2008 model years and the Pontiac G6 from the 2005 to 2008 model years have similar shifting systems, the agency said.

Boeing signs huge deal with Emirates Airlines

Boeing's biggest-ever civil jet order solidifies the U.S. manufacturer's lead in the market for wide-body planes and helps hold at bay Airbus' attempt to encroach on its dominance with the A350 airliner. Boeing signed an agreement with Dubai-based Emirates Airlines at the Dubai Air show for 50 777-300ER jets, and an option for 20 more, in a deal valued at $26 billion.

Anadarko optimistic about Colorado oil field

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., citing encouraging results from horizontal drilling programs on the Wattenberg oil and gas field in northeastern Colorado, said it expects the field to yield the energy equivalent of 500 million to 1.5 billion barrels of oil. So far, the company has drilled 11 wells on the field, each flowing an average 800 barrels a day.

Ready, aim mobile devices, shop

A record number of consumers will shop from their mobile devices this season, according to a forecast from IBM Coremetrics, which studies online data from 500 leading U.S. retailers. And retailers seeking to tap into that trend will be forced to adapt. John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM Coremetrics, said: "Mobile users have less patience. They are surgical shoppers. Retailers are going to have to do a really good job in targeting their messages and promotions for mobile users." A mobile device shopper averages about 4 minutes on a site, compared with a bit over 7 minutes for a site visit from a regular computer.

Starbucks backs off from undisclosed fee

After being investigated and fined in Massachusetts, Starbucks says it stopped charging a $1.50 fee for customers buying less than a pound of coffee in its stores. The Seattle-based coffee chain said it affected less than 1 percent of its coffee bean sales at cafes. Massachusetts looked into the matter after a family member of the undersecretary of consumer affairs and business regulation was charged the undisclosed fee, which Massachusetts considers an overcharge.

Stock buybacks at four-year high

U.S. companies are buying back the most stock in four years, taking advantage of record-high cash levels and low interest rates to purchase equities at valuations 15 percent cheaper than when the credit crisis began. Corporations have authorized more than $453 billion in repurchases this year, putting 2011 on track for the third-highest annual total behind 2006 and 2007, data through Nov. 11 compiled by Birinyi Associates Inc. show. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought shares for the first time, and Amgen Inc. sold debt to fund its buyback. U.S. companies spent 70 percent more on their stock last quarter than a year ago, according to financial filings as of Nov. 11.

Cray to finish U. of Illinois supercomputer

The University of Illinois says Seattle-based Cray Inc. will take over construction of the stalled $300 million Blue Waters supercomputer project, three months after IBM pulled out citing cost and technical concerns. Cray expects to have the computer online next year. The National Science Foundation will provide just over $200 million with the remaining $100 million coming from the university and the state of Illinois. Cray will be paid $188 million, the equivalent of about half of its total revenue from its most recent fiscal year.