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  • WASHINGTON, Oct 31- The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that some banks continued to ease lending standards for businesses and consumers in the last three months, while a number reported better bo r rower appetite for real estate and auto loans.

  • UPDATE 1-GM spends $3.6 bln on lump-sum pension buyouts Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:44 PM ET

    DETROIT, Oct 31- General Motors Co spent $3.6 billion on pension buyouts this year for white-collar retirees as part of a plan to cut about one-fifth of its global pension liability. GM also said it would shift management of pension plans for 118,000 salaried retirees to a unit of Prudential Financial Inc..

  • *Lumber futures rise the $10 daily limit. Trade sources said the home-rebuilding process in the northeastern United States, which bore the brunt of Sandy, could stretch well into 2013, keeping demand for lumber robust.

  • Oct 31- Maybe liquidity isn't all it's cracked up to be. Trading in U.S.-traded stocks re-opened on Wednesday after a rare two-day hiatus, as exchanges struggled to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

  • UPDATE 3-Portugal faces court battle after budget passes Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:35 PM ET

    LISBON, Oct 31- Portugal's parliament approved the biggest tax increases in the country's modern history on Wednesday, paving the way for a court battle over a budget which the government says is vital to keep its international bailout afloat.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 31- U.S. gasoline rose on Wednesday on concerns about East Coast supply shortages as the energy sector struggled to restore operations disrupted by massive storm Sandy.

  • UPDATE 3-Phillips 66 quarterly profit up on good margins Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:35 PM ET

    HOUSTON, Oct 31- Increased access to cheaper crude oil from the United States and Canada boosted Phillips 66' s quarterly profits above analyst expectations after the U.S. refining company spun off from ConocoPhillips earlier this year, the company reported on Wednesday.

  • *Reuters Business News Schedule at 1430 EDT / 1830 GMT Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:35 PM ET
  • US Bush-era trade deal with Panama goes into force Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:32 PM ET

    ``This trade deal will guarantee access to Panama's $20.6 billion services market and more than $15 billion in infrastructure projects...

  • Companies like environmental cleanup specialist Clean Harbors, building supply chains Home Depot and Lowe's, building products makers Owens Corning and Beacon Roofing and generator manufacturer Generac Holdings surged in early trading on the assumption that the recovery from Sandy will take years and boost sales.

  • LONDON, Oct 31- Former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli said on Wednesday that he and Jerome Kerviel, the Societe Generale ``rogue trader'', got into trouble only because they had lost money for their employers. Adoboli, 32, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2011, and blamed for losses of $2.3 billion.

  • *New York, New Jersey each have more than 2 million out. At the storm's peak, 8.48 million customers were without power after Sandy came ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey on Monday, according to a Department of Energy collection of data.

  • EXCLUSIVE-Perfume-makers fear EU legal blow to industry Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:06 PM ET

    *EU Commission says consulting widely on issue. PARIS, Oct 31- Perfume-makers are urging the European Commission to back down from possible legislation they fear could kill top fragrances by restricting natural ingredients linked to allergies, industry sources say.

  • Sandy clouds capital outlook for NY's MTA -comptroller Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:00 PM ET

    Oct 31- New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority faces ``very significant'' repair costs following massive storm Sandy, adding a still-unknown burden to a system that had already cut its proposed capital budget, the state comptroller said on Wednesday.

  • Reuters World News Highlights 1800 GMT Oct 31 Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 6:00 PM ET

    JERUSALEM- Most Israelis would be reassured if Mitt Romney won next week's U.S. presidential election, feeling they had an unquestioning friend rather than a dispassionate critic in the White House.

  • *Cleveland Clinic compiles annual list of top innovations. Oct 31- The best medical innovations for next year include an almond-size device implanted in the mouth to relieve severe headaches and a handheld scanner resembling a blow dryer that detects skin cancer, the Cleveland Clinic said on Wednesday.

  • Bank loan standards ease, loan demand up-Fed survey Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 5:59 PM ET

    WASHINGTON, Oct 31- The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that some banks continued to ease lending standards for businesses and consumers, while a number reported improved borrower appetite for real estate and auto loans in the last three months.

  • EURO GOVT-Bunds rebound after strong auction Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 5:57 PM ET

    *Germany sells 1.7 bln euros of 2044 bonds. *France also finds high demand for long-term debt. Investors snapped up long-term debt from Germany and France as a recent European Central Bank- inspired lull in the three-year-old crisis persuaded some investors to look at longer-maturities.

  • METALS-Copper up but set for weakest month since May Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 | 5:55 PM ET

    *Market awaits China's official PMI on Thursday. LONDON, Oct 31- London copper rose on Wednesday, buoyed by a softer dollar, but gains were limited with U.S. stock markets falling after a two-day closure for the storm Sandy and as metals investors stayed wary about demand from China.

  • *Short-term gas demand lower on lost power generation. NEW YORK, Oct 31- As the U.S. The United States last year initiated closer scrutiny of U.S. nuclear plants and their safety features following the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent flooding in Japan that caused a nuclear plant meltdown there.