Microsoft Corp. said Thursday its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 2 percent, buoyed through economic uncertainty by corporate customers that renewed licenses for servers and other business programs.

In the three months that ended Sept. 30, Microsoft's earnings rose to $4.37 billion, or 48 cents per share, from $4.29 billion, or 45 cents per share in the same period last year.

Sales improved 9 percent to $15.1 billion.

Microsoft beat Wall Street's expectations on both counts. Analysts, on average, predicted the Redmond, Wash.-based company would earn 47 cents per share on $14.8 billion in sales, according to a Thomson First Call survey.

US Airways Group Inc.

US Airways Group Inc. said Thursday it lost $865 million in the third quarter as the carrier struggled with an up-and-down swing in fuel prices. Its shares dropped nearly 16 percent as oil prices rose.

The loss was the worst among the major carriers during the July-through-September quarter.

For the quarter, US Airways said it lost $8.45 per share, compared with a profit of $177 million, or $1.87 per share, in the same period last year. Revenue was up 7.4 percent to $3.26 billion for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30.

Xerox Corp.

Xerox Corp. plans to cut 3,000 jobs, or 5 percent of its workforce, because a slowdown in orders from large U.S. companies has dragged down the printer and copier maker's profit margins.

The Norwalk, Conn.-based company had already been steadily cutting costs and jobs before the financial crisis worsened in the past month. The company has eliminated 8,800 jobs since 2005, including 1,500 so far this year.

Xerox revealed the reductions as it reported that sales of new equipment weakened in the third quarter. It posted a 2 percent increase in profit in the July-September quarter, earning $258 million, or 29 cents per share. That was a penny per share higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call. In the year-ago period, Xerox's net income was $254 million, or 27 cents per share.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said Thursday its third-quarter earnings leaped 31 percent on better yields and higher fuel surcharges.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad earned $695 million, or $2 per share, up from $530 million, or $1.48 per share, in the prior-year period. The 2008 quarter included a tax settlement gain of 9 cents per share.

Revenue jumped 21 percent to $4.91 billion from $4.07 billion, a year earlier.

UPS Inc.

UPS Inc. third-quarter profit fell nearly 10 percent despite a rise in sales, the world's largest shipping carrier said Thursday. It warned that it faces more challenges ahead, that job cuts may be on the horizon and that the "scope and the size" of a deal it is working out to carry some packages for rival DHL could change.

ASSOCIATED PRESS