Business briefs

Top lender to turn away 12,000 workers

LOS ANGELES - Struggling lender Countrywide Financial Corp. said Friday it will cut as many as 12,000 jobs as it struggles to deal with challenging conditions in the mortgage industry.

It was not immediately clear whether the job cuts would affect Countrywide's operations in Olympia.

The company said the cuts, amounting to as much as 20 percent of its workforce, are needed because it expects mortgage originations to fall about 25 percent in 2008 from this year's levels.

Food and beverage

Low-calorie version of Gatorade expected

NEW YORK - Pepsi is offering a new low-calorie version of Gatorade in an effort to keep customers who have strayed from the sports drink in search of lower calorie drinks.

PepsiCo Inc., which announced plans for the low-cal G2 version of Gatorade on Friday, and its bigger rival The Coca-Cola Co. are aggressively competing for sales of non-­carbonated beverages as health-conscious consumers shy away from carbonated soft drinks.

PepsiCo, the nation's second biggest soft drink company, said in July that its sales of carbonated soft drinks fell 4 percent in the second quarter while non-carbonated drinks grew 3 percent.


Convicted ex-Enron head wants to be tried again

HOUSTON - Imprisoned former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling asked Friday for a new trial, saying the Justice Department used incorrect legal theories and "coercive and abusive tactics" to win a conviction, including threatening witnesses.

Skilling was sentenced last October to more than 24 years in prison for his role in the collapse of Enron Corp., once the nation's seventh-largest company. He was convicted along with company founder Kenneth Lay on May 25, 2006, on 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.

Skilling reported to a federal prison in Minnesota in December. Lay died on July 4, 2006, and his convictions were vacated.


Harley-Davidson reports disappointing earnings

MILWAUKEE - Harley-Davidson Inc. lowered its earnings expectations for the year on Friday and said it would cut bike shipments, sending shares plunging more than 8 percent.

Dealer sales fell sharply in August, he said, and Harley-Davidson Inc. doesn't expect sales to increase the rest of the year. Worldwide sales were down 1.2 percent in the most recent quarter.

Harley-Davidson's shares tumbled on the news, falling $5, or 9.2 percent, to $49.09 Friday. Earlier in the day, shares fell to a new 52-week low of $48.94. They've traded as high as $75.87 in the past 52 weeks.