Dollars & Sense

Tell us your worries regarding economyThe signs are everywhere: inflation up, house prices falling, stock market in a tailspin, job losses mounting. Many economists believe we're headed toward a recession. That means different things to people at different stages of their lives: college students about to graduate, young married couples with children, experienced workers preparing for retirement or seniors living on a fixed income. The Bee wants to know what you're most concerned about economically, and how that relates to where you are in life. Contact staff writer Ben van der Meer at 578-2331 or with your thoughts, which may be used in a Bee story.

GM beats Toyota

Toyota said today it sold 9.366 million vehicles around the world last year, about 3,000 fewer than the tally from General Motors -- the world's No. 1 automaker for 77 years. As late as Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. had said it had sold about 9.37 million vehicles worldwide last year, making for an extremely tight race with U.S. automaker General Motors Corp., which said it sold 9,369,524 vehicles. But Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco confirmed the extra digit today. He refused to comment on GM's retention of the No. 1 title. General Motors Corp. is a symbol of U.S. industrial might and the world's top seller of motor vehicles since Herbert Hoover was president. GM's global sales figure was a 3 percent increase from 2006 for the company.

Oil profits rise 37%

Record oil prices at the end of 2007 helped ConocoPhillips post a 37 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, even as the third-largest U.S. oil company produced less crude and natural gas than a year earlier. The company's shares ended higher Wednesday as Wall Street surged in late trading, even amid fears a slowing economy could diminish demand for oil. Crude prices reached an all-time trading high of $100.09 on Jan. 3, but have fallen more than 10 percent since. For much of the fourth quarter, they hovered around $90 a barrel, more than 50 percent higher than a year ago.

Coming Friday

A wave of lawsuits is beginning to wash over the troubled mortgage market and the rest of the financial world.