KAI RYSSDAL: No matter how it may sound, the business news this week isn't all stock markets and interest rates.
Recession fears are driving oil prices lower. Crude closed under $87 a barrel. I can think of two industries that'll be happy to hear that.
A couple of major airlines reported profits today. Delta finished 2007 $105 million in the red, after spending more than $1 billion on jet fuel. Southwest wound up $100 million in the black, because it was smart enough to buy gas ahead of time.
The fight for the top spot in the global auto industry might come down to as few as 3,000 cars. Michelline Maynard covers Detroit for the New York Times.
MICHELLINE MAYNARD: It is said that they sold 9.37 million vehicles. GM said that they sold 9.369 million vehicles. It almost seems like this is a tie.
Contractors that worked on Boston's Big Dig have agreed to pay more than $450 million to settle a whole raft of lawsuits. The money will cover design flaws and leaks in some of the tunnels. The family of a woman killed in a tunnel ceiling collapse a year and a half ago has filed separate suits.
Back here in L.A., striking screenwriters and producers announced they will start talking again, at least informally. Bonnie Garvin's with the Writers Guild.
BONNIE GARVIN: Clearly it's in everybody's interest to get all of that back up and running as soon as possible, and as soon as somebody presents us with something that's fair and reasonable, we will be there the following morning.
When they do, it probably won't be with reality writers holding union cards. The WGA confirmed today it's agreed not to try to organize reality shows. It's not clear how big a concession that really is. Reality TV was mentioned early by the guild as a possible sacrifice.
Starbucks is doing its bit to help out in a slowing economy. Folks pinching pennies in Seattle can continue their coffee habit for only $1 a day. The company has announced a new eight-ounce cup with unlimited refills. That sounds great to Los Angeles Starbucks customer Carlos Huiza.
CARLOS HUIZA: Why not? A buck? Who can beat that?
But pity this San Francisco barista.
BARISTA: That makes it slightly more annoying. If people come up like take a gulp, cause it's only like eight ounces. If they down it and then they come back, and then they down it and then they come back.
It's ugly out there in the coffee wars. McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts are brewing up their own plans. Starbucks stock price is off 7 percent since the beginning of the year.