HP's TouchPad getting brief reprieve

Hewlett-Packard Co. will produce a final run of its TouchPad tablet computer, after price cuts generated a surge in demand for the discontinued product. After announcing plans to stop making WebOS products, including the TouchPad and a line of smartphones, Hewlett- Packard cut the tablet's price to $99, down from $499 originally. That made the devices a fifth the cost of Apple Inc.'s market-leading iPad and sent shoppers clamoring to find them in stores. Hewlett-Packard's final batch of TouchPads will be available before Oct. 31.

July saw factory orders rise by 2.4 percent

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that orders placed with factories rose in July by the most in four months, boosted by demand for motor vehicles and aircraft that more than made up for a decrease in business equipment. The 2.4 percent increase in bookings exceeded the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey and followed a revised 0.4 percent drop in the prior month.

Raid on BP comes on heels of rival's deal

A day after Exxon Mobil, the U.S. oil giant, struck a strategic alliance with Russia's state-owned oil company, police agents in Moscow staged a vivid reminder of what can happen to foreign petroleum partners that get on bad terms with the government. Commandos armed with assault rifles raided the offices of the British oil company BP on Wednesday, in one of the ritual armed searches of white-collar premises that are common enough here to have a nickname: masky shows (so-called because of balaclavas the agents often wear, though not this time.) Exxon, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

Ford betting on future with Zipcar deal

By supplying up to 1,000 cars to Zipcar Inc., whose members rent cars on an hourly basis, Ford Motor Co. is making a move to reach a new and growing generation of drivers who may not want to buy a car -- at least not now. With this deal, Ford vehicles such as the Focus and Escape will eventually make up about 10 percent of Zipcar's fleet. With 605,000 members, the 24/7 hourly rental service is on more than 250 college campuses.

Loan soon might bolster troubled Saab

Saab Automobile, the cash-starved Swedish carmaker, is close to getting a loan of about 1 billion kronor ($157 million) to pay overdue salaries and avert a looming bankruptcy, three people familiar with the matter said Wednesday. The loan would come from one of Europe's five biggest banks, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The carmaker, which General Motors Co. sold in 2010, first suspended production in late March amid a cash crunch; the main factory in Trollhaettan, Sweden, has been shut since early June.

FROM NEWS SERVICES