Stocks slip as caution over economy returns

NEW YORK -- Stocks ended lower Thursday after early gains from a better report on jobless claims faded. The Dow Jones industrial average closed below 10,000 for the first time since early July.

The Dow lost 74 points, having been up as much as 45 earlier. The back-and-forth trading pattern has been common in recent weeks.

The early gains were driven by a report showing that first-time claims for jobless benefits fell last week after three straight weekly increases. The gains evaporated by mid-morning as concerns about unemployment and other woes plaguing the U.S. returned.

Traders turned their attention to a speech by Ben Bernanke coming up early today. They're waiting to see if the Federal Reserve chairman might shed light on how weak the U.S. economy really is and whether the Fed might take more steps to revive it.

FAA hits American with $24.2 million fine

DALLAS -- Federal officials have hit American Airlines with a record penalty of $24.2 million over maintenance lapses that caused thousands of canceled flights in 2008.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that American failed to take steps to prevent chafing of electrical wires in the wheel wells of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80-series jets.

The FAA said the wiring could have led to fires and fuel-tank explosions.

American vowed to challenge the proposed penalty. Airlines routinely challenge FAA penalties or negotiate to reduce them.

2 hip-replacement products recalled

TRENTON, N.J. -- Johnson & Johnson's artificial joint business is recalling two hip replacement products, just two days after getting hit with a government warning that it is illegally marketing two other products. It is the 11th J&J recall since September.

DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. said Thursday that it is recalling two hip-replacement products because new data, about to be released, show higher-than-expected rates of patients needing a second hip- replacement procedure.

Within five years, 1 in 8 patients needed a revision surgery. That's required when an artificial joint doesn't fit perfectly, causing pain and difficulty walking. The products are the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System.

DePuy decided last fall to discontinue both, Gawreluk said. The company is working on developing a new generation of both products.

HP tops Dell's offer for data-storage maker

SEATTLE -- Hewlett-Packard Co. said Thursday that it is raising its offer for data-storage maker 3Par Inc. to about $1.69 billion, topping a revised bid that rival Dell Inc. made public earlier in the day.

HP's new offer is for $27 per share in cash. Earlier, Dell said 3Par had accepted its second offer of $24.30 per share in cash, or $1.52 billion.

Dell made its first offer, $18 per share, for 3Par on Aug. 16. HP kicked off the bidding contest with its counteroffer Monday.

The back-and-forth bidding over previously obscure 3Par underscores how serious Dell and HP, among the world's largest PC makers, are about finding more profitable businesses than selling computers.