Boeing signaled Tuesday that it will remain for now in the competition for a disputed $40 billion Air Force tanker contract, saying talks with the Pentagon were the start of a "continuing dialogue" over the latest round of bidding on the aerial refueling plane.

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Boeing signaled Tuesday that it will remain for now in the competition for a disputed $40 billion Air Force tanker contract, saying talks with the Pentagon were the start of a “continuing dialogue” over the latest round of bidding on the aerial-refueling plane.

Officials from both Boeing and rival Northrop Grumman met with Defense Department officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, to discuss the latest draft request for proposals (RFP) for the second round of bidding on the tanker program.

Some Boeing supporters say the new round is unfairly tilted to the larger plane proposed by Northrop Grumman and partner European Aeronautic Defence & Space, and there has been speculation Boeing might not bid again.

Boeing said the meeting was to get clarity about the changes in the criteria the Pentagon will use to pick a new winner.

“We hope that it was just the beginning of a continuing dialogue as we move toward a final RFP that prescribes the right aircraft and gives appropriate weight to all of the capabilities that will be required for the evolving mission over the next several decades,” Boeing said.

Forest products

2 top execs retiring at Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser announced Tuesday that two senior vice presidents will retire from the company Oct. 1.

Lee T. Alford, 60, senior vice president of residential wood products, joined the company in 1996. His duties will be taken over by Thomas F. Gideon, executive vice president of forest products.

Also retiring is Craig D. Neeser, 53, senior vice president of industrial wood products and international, who joined Weyerhaeuser in 1999 with the company’s acquisition of MacMillan Bloedel, where he had worked since 1977. James M. Branson, senior vice president of timberlands, will add the division to his existing responsibilities.

Weyerhaeuser announced Aug. 5 that it would cut 1,000 of the 2,500 jobs at its Federal Way headquarters and 500 more corporate-support jobs across the country.

Media

CNN offices set for Seattle, other cities

Time Warner’s CNN plans to add offices in Seattle, Denver, Houston and seven other cities to expand its U.S. news coverage.

The cable-news network will staff the expansion with existing employees from daytime and prime-time shows and others who are more focused on the Internet, the Atlanta-based channel said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement.

The new offices will strengthen partnerships with affiliate broadcast stations, CNN said. The network already has 10 U.S. bureaus, including Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

The new cities also include Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Orlando, Fla; Philadelphia; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Software

Microsoft issues most fixes in 2 years

Microsoft issued fixes for 26 security holes in its programs, the highest number in two years.

The updates prevent hackers from exploiting flaws in applications such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. Computers can become infected when their users visit compromised Web sites.

Microsoft issues fixes for security holes on the second Tuesday of every month.

The latest release, which had the highest number of fixes since August 2006, highlights how Web browsers are the preferred method for hackers seeking to break into computers, said Ben Greenbaum, a senior research manager at Symantec.

Microsoft also issued updates for programs such as Word 2002, Word 2003 and Excel 2000. The company rated 17 of the 26 flaws as “critical,” meaning hackers can assume control of users’ PCs.

Nation / World

Retailers

New shoppers swell TJX cash registers

TJX Cos., which operates the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, said Tuesday second-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago when the discount fashion retailer digested a charge for a widely publicized security breach.

The Framingham, Mass., company raised its profit outlook as it attracts new shoppers looking for cheaper alternatives in a challenging economy.

President and Chief Executive Carol Meyrowitz told investors in a conference call she’s confident TJX can retain its new customers even when the economy recovers and emphasized a goal to create a global brand with more than 4,300 stores, up from about 2,600.

Banking

UBS separates 3 main businesses

Trying to salvage its reputation, Swiss banking giant UBS announced changes Tuesday that would separate its struggling investment-banking business from the lucrative wealth-management operation.

The banks’ three main units are wealth management, a prized division that focuses on banking for private clients; asset management; and the investment bank, where the brunt of the recent losses at the bank have occurred.

Separating the three would give each greater autonomy and “maximum strategic flexibility,” UBS said.

Some shareholders said the split was intended to facilitate a sale, but the bank’s chairman, Peter Kurer, said the businesses were not for sale.

The bank, based in Zurich, has come under increasing pressure, having written down $43 billion since the mortgage crisis started last summer, making it the European bank hardest hit by the market turmoil.

Automobiles

Hybrid owners love their brand

Hybrid-car owners are some of the most loyal in the U.S. market, with nearly half purchasing a vehicle of the same make when they buy another car, according to a study released Monday by an automotive-data company.

Forty-seven percent of hybrid buyers purchase a vehicle of the same make, compared with 35 percent of buyers overall, according to Experian Automotive, a division of global information provider Experian

Toyota Prius owners were the most loyal to the vehicle model among hybrid buyers, with 25 percent buying another Prius.

Federal budget

Rebates, bank woes nearly triple deficit

The federal budget deficit soared in July, pushed higher by economic-stimulus payments and $15 billion in outlays to protect depositors at failed banks.

The Treasury Department reported the deficit totaled $102.8 billion, nearly triple the $36.4 billion recorded in July 2007. It outstripped the $97 billion gap economists had been expecting.

The Treasury said outlays were pushed up by $15 billion because of payments the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. made to depositors at failed banks.

Loans

Program is option to payday loans

Banks around the country have issued more than 3,000 small loans as part of a pilot program by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. exploring alternatives to payday lending.

Payday loans require borrowers to sign over their next paycheck in return for a cash advance of a few hundred dollars with an interest rate often exceeding 390 percent.

“Our hope and our belief is that this can be done in a profitable way that works for even large institutions,” said Andrew Stirling, who manages the program for the FDIC. The loans, $2,500 or less, cap their interest rates at 36 percent.

Automaker

Bit more mpg from GM biggies

When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.

That’s the approach General Motors is taking as it tries to squeeze a few more miles per gallon out of its beleaguered lineup of big pickups and SUVs.

This fall, GM will introduce XFE versions (as in “xtra fuel economy”) of its full-size Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks and the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs.

Using improved aerodynamics and aluminum parts, GM has boosted the vehicles’ fuel-economy ratings by 1 mpg, to 15 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Seattle Times business staff