Stagecoach rides into town

The Wells Fargo reproduction stagecoach will be part of the 2009 Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade on Sunday.

Ailing Citi names Pandit to take the reins as CEO

NEW YORK — Citigroup Inc. named Vikram Pandit, the head of its investment banking business, as its chief executive Tuesday, charging him with restoring the bank's profitability and reputation after missteps in lending and investing left it with billions of dollars in losses.

The company named Sir Win Bischoff, who has been Citi's acting CEO, as chairman, replacing Robert E. Rubin, who had stepped into the role when former CEO and chairman Charles Prince was ousted last month.

Pandit is seen as a careful, decisive banker.

Bischoff has led Citi's European businesses, answering complaints that Pandit does not have the overseas experience to guide operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Gas slips below $3 mark, more declines expected

NEW YORK — Average gasoline prices fell below $3 Tuesday for the first time since Nov. 4, extending a trend that's expected to last through the heavily traveled Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Gas prices fell 0.8 cents to a national average of $2.995 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices are down nearly 12 cents since peaking in mid-November.

In Charleston, the average price Tuesday morning was $2.899, according to AAA, down from a high of $2.969 on Nov. 29 but still above the average price of $2.814 on Nov. 4.

Fred Rozell of the information service said he expects prices to decline more but doubts that they will fall as much this winter as they did last year.

A year ago, gas cost $2.292 a gallon. That means gas prices will be starting from a much higher level when they begin their seasonal spring increase in advance of the summer driving season.

Driving limits are upheld for U.S. trucking industry

WASHINGTON — Big trucking companies got their wish Tuesday when federal regulators maintained existing limits on drivers' hours rather than endorse a court order sought by consumer advocates that would have required one less hour behind the wheel each day.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an interim final rule that maintains the current 11-hour driving limit, after which truckers are required to rest for 10 hours.

Consumer advocates sued to reduce the amount of time truckers can stay behind the wheel because they say the industry is putting the public at risk.

Force Protection shares fall on possible order cut

Shares of Force Protection Inc. fell sharply Tuesday for a second day on reports that the Army may order fewer armored trucks than previously expected.

The Ladson-based company's stock fell 66 cents, or 8.8 percent, to close at $6.82 per share on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

That drop followed a plunge of $2.51, or 25.1 percent, on Monday after news reports quoted Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, head of coalition forces in Iraq, as saying the Army probably won't need the 10,000 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles it is authorized to buy.

Force Protection's stock has fallen 77.5 percent since it set a multiyear high of $30.27 a share on May 30.