Southwest bids for ATA's LaGuardia slots

Southwest Airlines submitted a $7.5 million bid to take over the takeoff and landing rights of bankrupt carrier ATA Airlines at New York's LaGuardia Airport, as the nation's top discount airline takes aim at the nation's biggest -- and most congested -- market. The bid, subject to court approval, would give Southwest seven landings and takeoffs a day at LaGuardia, where the federal government is moving to limit the number of flights per hour as part of its effort to reduce delays at New York-area airports. Congestion at the three airports causes as much as 75 percent of delayed flights nationwide, according to the Transportation Department.

Insurance industry backs all-in health plan

The health insurance industry said Wednesday that it will support a national health care overhaul that requires them to accept all customers, regardless of preexisting medical conditions -- but in return it wants lawmakers to mandate that everyone buy coverage. Lawmakers have signaled their intent to craft health care legislation early next year, and the insurance industry's support would make passage easier. That legislation is expected to closely track the proposals of President-elect Barack Obama. However, Obama separated himself from his Democratic challengers by opposing an individual mandate for adults to buy health insurance.

Toyota to slow U.S. production as demand falls

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will reduce production in the United States to cope with slowing sales. Toyota will stop production at all its plants here and in Canada for two extra days in addition to the regular Christmas holidays next month, and cut about half of 500 temporary workers at a plant in Georgetown, Ky., by March, a company spokeswoman said. Beginning in January, Japan's top automaker plans to reduce production of the Sienna minivan at its Indiana plant, and slow a line for the Camry and Avalon sedans at the Kentucky plant. At New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, Calif. -- its joint venture with General Motors Corp. -- Toyota will eliminate a shift producing the Tacoma pickup.

Google, P&G work together to target market

The world's largest consumer products company and online search leader Google are working together to learn more about each other and about targeting customers. Procter & Gamble Co. said Wednesday that it has done job swaps with Google Inc., and Google employees have been at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters helping with training. P&G spokeswoman Allison Yang said the company wants to reach more consumers who are increasingly online.

Citi to buy $17.4 billion of its remaining SIVs

Citigroup Inc. said Wednesday that it is acquiring the remaining $17.4 billion in assets held by structured investment vehicles (SIVs) it already supports, as the bank moves to unwind the troubled funds. Citi will move the SIV assets to a portfolio of assets held for sale. The transfer allows the funds to fully repay maturing debt obligations.

BASF making temporary cuts as demand slows

German-based chemical company BASF SE said Wednesday it is temporarily closing 80 plants worldwide because of slumping demand and cutting production at 100 more, including facilities in Texas and Louisiana, affecting about 20,000 workers. It also abandoned its goal to match last year's profit, citing slowing demand for its products, particularly from automotive customers. In a statement, the Ludwigshafen-based maker of everything from fertilizers and paints to glues and ingredients for cosmetics said it was trying to stem overcapacity.