EU's subsidies for Airbus ruled illegal

GENEVA -- The World Trade Organization ruled Wednesday that European governments gave planemaker Airbus illegal subsidies in its battle with U.S. competitor Boeing, in a first key ruling on a long- running dispute between the European Union and Washington.

The decision runs 1,061 pages over the question of whether the European Union unfairly abetted Airbus' rise to the world's No. 1 planemaker.

Interpreting the ruling isn't easy because the governments and companies have had months to prepare statements that cite different parts of the decision, with both sides claiming victory.

The verdict confirms wrongdoing, but it was unclear how hard it came down against Europe as it awaits the result of a countersuit alleging illegal U.S. support for Boeing.

Panel begins study of vehicle acceleration

WASHINGTON -- The government said Wednesday it had not uncovered any electronic problems in runaway Toyotas as a panel started work on an extensive study to determine what prompts some vehicles to suddenly accelerate.

A National Academy of Sciences panel held its first meeting to review the potential causes of unintended acceleration in vehicles across the entire auto industry.

David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said his agency's ongoing Toyota probe had not found any electronic connection to the problems.

Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles because of problems with sticking gas pedals and accelerators that can become entrapped in floor mats.

Ford cutting debt by about $4 billion

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., the only Detroit automaker to avoid bankruptcy protection, said Wednesday it will reduce its huge debt by another $4 billion as it continues to show signs of financial strength.

The automaker will pay $3.8 billion in cash to a United Auto Workers trust fund that pays retiree health care bills, and it will pay out $255 million in dividends on preferred securities that had been deferred as Ford worked its way through financial troubles.

The company now will make quarterly payments on the securities, which are a combination of preferred stock and bonds.

CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement that the payments are another sign of confidence that the company's restructuring plan is working.

Microsoft halts line of Kin phones

SEATTLE -- For Microsoft, there will be no next of Kin. The company halted the rollout of Kin One and Kin Two phones after less than two months.

Kin phones were aimed at people who wanted a constant stream of updates from social networks and who wanted to share Web snippets, photos and video with friends.

But the timing of Kin's arrival was off. Microsoft had just announced a new Windows Phone system. And during the years Kin was said to be in development, smart phones grew more sophisticated. Kin doesn't have extra applications, or "apps," for download or a GPS mapping function.

Microsoft said it won't sell the phones in Europe as planned, but will focus on the Windows Phone 7.