Business Highlights

Posted: Thursday, January 11, 2001

DALLAS (AP) -- Investors reacted to news of consolidation in the airline industry and jitters over weaker fourth-quarter earnings by knocking down the stock prices of the nation's leading carriers for a second straight day Tuesday.

American Airlines has proposed buying troubled Trans World Airlines and could wind up with parts of US Airways in a complex series of deals expected to be announced Wednesday that could clear the way for United Airlines' purchase of the rest of US Airways.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, shares in American parent AMR Corp. fell $2.56 to close at $38.94, while shares of United parent UAL Corp. fell $1.06 to $42. Shares of Delta, the No. 3 carrier, lost $2.13 to $48.38.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans are increasingly anxious about the nation's economy as the Bush administration gets under way, an Associated Press poll suggests. Faith in the stock market as a safe place to put money has dropped as well.

Only a third of Americans expect their family finances to be better in a year, said the AP poll -- a big drop from last spring when more than half felt that way.

Just over two in 10 Americans have a lot of confidence in Bush's ability to deal with the economy, the poll indicated, while just over four in 10 have some confidence and almost three in 10 have no real confidence. That's similar to the public's confidence in President-elect Clinton eight years ago.

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HELSINKI, Finland (AP) -- Shares of the world's top cellular phone maker, Nokia, tumbled Tuesday after the company's report of a 64 percent increase in its mobile phone sales last year fell short of market expectations.

Nokia said it sold 128 million mobile phones last year, and estimated that amounted to more than a 30 percent share of the worldwide market that it said grew about 45 percent to 405 million phones in 2000.

But analysts had expected Nokia to sell about 140 million phones and its shares sank more than 17 percent on the Helsinki Stock Exchange at one point before rallying to close at 41 euros ($38.95), down 8.7 percent.

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DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. will make tire pressure monitors standard in all its sport utilities by 2005 after being stung by the furor over Firestone tires linked to fatal accidents in its Explorers.

The move was one of several safety improvements Ford announced Tuesday for its popular SUV models that deliver much of its profit. But the other measures, such as better brakes and rollover protection systems, had been planned for some time, officials said.

Tire pressure was one of the major areas of inquiry into problems that led to the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires, most mounted on Ford Explorers. Tread separations of ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires have been tied to thousands of accidents and more than 140 deaths.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top Clinton administration officials heard pleas Tuesday from California's governor and the state's major utilities for help to avert major bankruptcies caused by soaring electricity costs.

Federal options appeared to be few, and one key Republican senator already has warned against a bailout for the state, whose 5-year experiment with electricity deregulation was described this week by Gov. Gray Davis as a ''dangerous and colossal failure.''

The private meeting at the Treasury Department brought together state officials, including Davis; the state's three largest electric utilities; a half dozen of the major power producers, who have been accused of price gouging, and the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has refused to impose wholesale price controls sought by the governor.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a case that could affect other fledgling dot-coms, a defunct online toy store will be paid $50,000 and have its customer database destroyed rather than being sold off to pay creditors, federal regulators said Tuesday.

Toysmart.com assured its customers that their personal information would never be shared with a third party, but the company took out an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal to sell the database after going out of business last May.

Internet privacy activists protested, claiming that if the sale of that information were allowed, it could encourage a wave of other failing dot-coms to abandon privacy assurances in return for cash.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. fell 4.5 percent Tuesday, after the nation's largest book seller warned that fourth-quarter profits would be lower than Wall Street estimates due to disappointing holiday sales.

The company said its book selling segment will earn $1.30 per share, compared to the Wall Street consensus of $1.46. The company's video game business is expected to earn 6 cents per share for the quarter, well below the 33 cents estimated by analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Results for the period ending Feb. 3 will be released Feb. 22.

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STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Xerox Corp. denied a report in Tuesday's New York Post that it had hired an investment firm as a bankruptcy adviser.

The struggling office machines maker acknowledged it had hired the Blackstone Group, a New York-based investment firm, as one of several financial advisers to counsel the company on its turnaround plan. But Xerox said it has no plans to file for bankruptcy court protection.

The Post quoted sources it did not identify as saying Xerox had retained Art Newman, head of Blackstone's bankruptcy practice.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- United Parcel Service said Tuesday it has ordered 60 Airbus Industrie freighters, in a $6 billion deal that is the largest aircraft buy ever by the package delivery giant.

Delivery of the 60 A300-600 planes from Airbus, a European consortium, will be spread over nine years, the company said.

A UPS executive said the order reflects long-term confidence in the growth of its air business.

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By The Associated Press

The lure of cheaper technology stocks brought buyers back to Wall Street Tuesday, sending the Nasdaq composite index higher but punishing the Dow industrials.

Although still mindful of the slowing economy and slumping earnings, investors focused on the future and, at least temporarily, appeared to have faith in a sector that has been bleeding since Labor Day.

The Nasdaq closed up 45.38 at 2,441.30, while the Dow fell 48.80 to 10,572.55, its losses curbed by tech components including Microsoft.

Crude oil futures pushed higher on a late flurry of short-covering at the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday but heating oil and gasoline futures fell ahead of expected builds in U.S. inventory.

In other markets, concerns about a shift in U.S. weather patterns fueled a rally in cattle futures Tuesday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Cocoa futures fell on the Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange, weighed down by selling from producers while cotton futures dropped on the New York Cotton Exchange.



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