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CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- Gasoline prices fell 9 cents a gallon in the past two weeks as the beginning of fall and continued travel fears slowed demand, an oil industry analyst said Sunday.

The average retail price of gasoline, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.34 a gallon on Friday, according to the two-week Lundberg Survey of nearly 8,000 gas stations nationwide.

The price of gas has fallen more than 22 cents since Sept. 7 and is about 27 cents lower than for the same period a year ago, Trilby Lundberg said.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.31 a gallon for regular unleaded, $1.41 for midgrade and $1.50 for premium.

SBC announces job cuts

SAN ANTONIO (Bloomberg) -- SBC Communications, the second-largest U.S. local-phone company, said it will eliminate "several thousand" jobs and reduce capital spending after third-quarter profit dropped 31 percent.

Profit fell to $2.1 billion, or 61 cents a share, from $3 billion, or 88 cents, in the year-ago quarter, the company said in a statement. Sales, including the company's interest in the Cingular Wireless joint venture with BellSouth Corp., rose to $13.5 billion from $13.4 billion.

Yahoo enhances message service

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) -- Yahoo! Inc. is enhancing its instant-messaging service with a variety of new virtual "environments" for online chats, in a bid for more users and advertising revenue.

Beginning today, Yahoo is adding themed backgrounds to its messenger service. The real-time chats will appear in new forms such as in frames or thought bubbles in a comic strip, for example.

The backgrounds are meant to make the service more fun to use and more attractive to advertisers because they can include links to pages with products for sale.

The new service satisfies two of Yahoo's aims: to make online advertising more appealing and to move up from its third-place position in number of instant messaging users, behind America Online and Microsoft's MSN.

Lexmark will cut 1,600 jobs

LEXINGTON, Ken. (Bloomberg) -- Lexmark International, the second-biggest maker of computer printers, will cut as many as 1,600 jobs, or 12 percent of its work force. Profit this quarter will be less than analysts had forecast because sales are slowing as the economy weakens.

The company will take $100 million to $120 million in fourth-quarter expenses for the job reductions. Third-quarter quarter profit rose 5.9 percent because costs declined, the company said in a statement.

Lexmark, which competes with bigger rival Hewlett-Packard Co., is best known for selling printers that cost less than $100.

Intel to exit gadget business

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Chip-making giant Intel Corp. is getting out of the gadget business.

The company said it will shut down its Connected Products Division early next year and no longer produce digital cameras, music players and toys.

Products to be phased out include the Intel Play Computer Sound Morpher, Digital Movie Creator, the QX3 Computer Microscope, all PC cameras, the Intel Personal Audio Player 3000 and the Pocket Concert Audio Player.

This week in business

Major business and economic events scheduled for the week:

Wednesday -- The Federal Reserve will release its "beige book" survey of regional economic conditions.

Thursday -- Labor Department reports on weekly jobless claims and the employment cost index; Commerce Department releases data on durable goods orders for September; National Association of Realtors reports on existing home sales for September, and the Conference Board updates information on its Help-Wanted Advertising Index.

Friday -- The Commerce Department will report on new home sales for September.

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