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News Corp. withdrew its high-profile offer to acquire Hughes Electronics satellite TV operations, apparently leaving the field to the only other bidder, EchoStar Communications. News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch said the company had "no option" but to pull out of the bidding after the board of Hughes's parent, General Motors, could not decide between the rival suitors. News Corp. had been in negotiations for more than 18 months. Echo Star joined the chase in August, offering about $31.5 billion in cash and stock. Hughes's DirecTV unit is the largest home satellite television provider in the US. News Corp. operates satellite TV services overseas but none in the US.

The Defense Department chose Lockheed Martin Corp. over Boeing Friday to build the high-tech F-35 fighter jet, a contract that appeared certain to be worth at least $200 billion. The F-35s, which are expected to cost $40 million each, will replace the aging jets of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. They also will be used by Britain's Navy and Air Force. Lockheed said the deal will allow it to add up to 9,000 jobs at its aeronautics division in Fort Worth, Texas. Boeing said the loss of the contract would cause it to lower its revenue forecast by $1 billion next year, although both companies left open the possibility of collaboration on the F-35 project. Ultimately, 3,000 of the supersonic, radar-evading fighters are expected to be built, with first deliveries projected to come in 2008. The contract is the largest in US defense history.

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