Business Highlights

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. appealed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn a ruling that the software giant is an illegal monopoly that has harmed consumers and stifled competition.

Microsoft sent the petition to the high court two days before the case was to be sent to a new judge to decide what penalty the Redmond, Wash., firm should face.

Simultaneously, Microsoft asked the appeals court that currently has the case to hold off any action until the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case, company spokesman Vivek Varma said.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Cisco Systems Inc. earned a relatively paltry $7 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, meeting Wall Street's expectations, as the networking giant continued to struggle with the global economic downturn.

Cisco declined to offer any future earnings guidance, saying that it doesn't believe the ''long-term outlook'' has changed.

For the three months ended July 28, Cisco broke even on a per-share basis, a whopping 99 percent below the $796 million, or 11 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding items and goodwill, the company earned $163 million, or 2 cents per share, compared with $1.2 billion, or 16 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Analysts were expecting a profit of 2 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial/First Call.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers, worried about their jobs in the face of layoffs, racheted back their borrowing in June, making credit use fall for the first time in nearly four years.

Consumer credit declined by a seasonally adjusted $1.6 billion in June, or a 1.2 percent annual rate, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. The pullback reflected a drop in nonrevolving credit, such as loans for new cars, vacations and other big-ticket items.

Elsewhere, worker productivity, a key measure of living standards, had its best showing in a year in the second quarter.

Worker productivity -- the amount of output per hour of work -- rose at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter, the department reported Tuesday. A revision turned a negative first-quarter figure into a tiny 0.1 percent growth rate.

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Europe was hit with more economic bad news Tuesday as signs of rising unemployment and slumping industrial output in Germany threatened to push the region's economic motor closer to recession.

The latest figures cast further doubt on upbeat forecasts by the European Central Bank that Europe will mount a rebound in the second half of the year, and they also suggest the continent's manufacturing sector could soon become mired in recession.

While economists say the 12-nation bloc using the euro common currency is unlikely to slip into full-blown recession, meaning negative economic growth in two back-to-back quarters, they warn that Germany, Italy and the Netherlands stand on the brink.

What seems clear, however, is that the region's manufacturers are already heading into a slump.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Troubled high-speed Internet provider Covad Communications Group Inc. said Tuesday it plans a ''pre-packaged'' bankruptcy filing as part of a deal with bondholders that would wipe out $1.4 billion in debt.

Once negotiations are complete and paperwork filed by mid-August, Covad will become the third independent provider of Digital Subscriber Line service -- and the largest -- to land in bankruptcy court this year.

In Covad's case, the Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not expected to affect operations or any of its 330,000 subscribers, said Charles Hoffman, president and chief executive officer.

The prenegotiated bankruptcy will only affect bondholders and is designed to make the company more attractive to investors, he said.

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- General Motors Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a stationary power generator that could provide electricity for an average-sized home, part of a bid to expand its use of fuel cell technology.

The fuel cell generator GM is testing extracts hydrogen from either natural gas, methane or gasoline. The hydrogen then is mixed with oxygen from the air and the fuel cell converts it to electricity.

GM staff engineer Daniel O'Connell says the goal is to use primarily natural gas since a vast network of pipelines already exists, making the fuel easily accessible, plus it produces only trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

The unit GM is testing produces 5.3 kilowatts of power, though a larger 100-kilowatt unit could provide enough power for 10 to 12 houses, O'Connell said.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Even as media titans wrestle for control of DirecTV, the nation's leading satellite broadcaster, a separate battle is raging between satellite providers and cable companies for the allegiance of TV viewers.

So far, satellite has proven a worthy competitor, shaking up the normally complacent cable industry by stealing away hordes of consumers with clear, reliable television service and more channels than you could watch in a lifetime.

In the seven years they've been in business, satellite providers have signed up an astonishing 16 million viewers.

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. posted a fourth-quarter loss of $320 million due to a massive $1.16 billion restructuring charge.

For the three months ended June 30, the company best known for Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers lost 23 cents per share, compared with earnings of $516 million or 36 cents per share for the same period last year.

Excluding the charge, P&G earned $837 million or 60 cents per share, compared with $777 million or 55 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting 59 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter sales for the Cincinnati-based company were $9.58 billion, down 1 percent from $9.66 billion in the same period last year.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- With angry words and apparent determination, three researchers told a meeting of scientists Tuesday they are unswayed by stories of medical risk or by ethical objections and will soon try to clone human beings.

''I believe we have enough information to proceed with human cloning,'' Brigitte Boisselier told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences. ''I don't believe working with animal cloning will give us much more information. I think we have enough.''

Boisselier, the director of Clonaid, a human cloning company, hinted that such experiments were already under way. When asked for details, she only smiled and said: ''I am doing it and hope I can publish that soon and share it with you.''

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 57.43 to 10,458.74. The Dow, which traded in a 113-point range, won back more than half of the 111 it lost Monday.

The broader market was mixed. The Nasdaq composite index, which traded in a 30-point range, fell 6.47 to 2,027.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.92 to 1,204.40.

Light sweet crude for September delivery rose 20 cents to settle at $27.94, and September heating oil rose .87 cent to 73.43 cents a gallon. September natural gas fell 5.6 cents to $2.971 per 1,000 cubic feet.

September gasoline futures rose .31 cent to 77.85 a gallon.

Brent crude from the North Sea rose 25 cents to $26.08 on London's International Petroleum Exchange.

Nearby August futures plunged the 3-cent daily limit to 96.85 cents a pound after rising above $1 early in the session.

Elsewhere, Platinum futures slid at the New York Mercantile Exchange after further selling in Japan. The October contract fell $25.80 to $440.40 a troy ounce.



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