Business: The Auto Industry Sees Red

Detroit leads a parade of low earnings reports ad tidings poured forth from many of the largest U.S. corporations last week. Reports on their business between July and September were distressingly poor. The stale economic climate choked off profits in most sectors of the economy, from steel and chemicals to mining and building supplies. Data Resources, Inc., a Lexington, Mass., economic forecasting firm, projected that corporate profits had fallen 5.8% from the same period a year ago.

The greatest shocks were felt in the auto industry. All three major carmakers took baths in red ink. Ford's third-quarter loss of...

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