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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2001

Briefcase

August 18, 2001

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Economy: U.S. trade deficit widens to $29.4 billion in June

The U.S. trade deficit widened in June as slumping demand in the United States and abroad pushed exports and imports down to their lowest levels in 16 months.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the trade imbalance increased slightly, by 3.3 percent, to $29.4 billion in June. The drop in exports was larger than that for imports, causing the trade gap to expand.

Still, June's trade deficit was the second smallest deficit this year, behind May's $28.5 billion. June's trade shortfall was well below the record monthly trade deficit of $34.5 billion registered in September 2000.

Gasoline: Lawrence prices lowest among Kansas metro areas

Service stations in Lawrence sold the cheapest gasoline, on average, this week among metro areas in Kansas, AAA reported Friday.

The average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline was $1.377 Thursday in Lawrence, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The average price was up from $1.288 a month earlier and $1.368 a year earlier.

Average prices in other metro areas of Kansas listed for Thursday, a week earlier and a year earlier:

Kansas City $1.400, $1.285, $1.440.

Topeka $1.408, $1.253, $1.368.

Wichita $1.401, $1.262, $1.328.

Layoffs: Global slowdown convinces consulting firm to cut jobs

Accenture Ltd. will slash 1,500 jobs from its work force, the second round of layoffs at the giant consulting firm this year as it continues to contend with the global economic slowdown.

Accenture, formerly known as Andersen Consulting, said Friday that the layoffs would reduce its staff of 75,000 by about 2 percent.

About 1,000 consultants will be cut in the United States, with the remaining 500 jobs to include support positions worldwide. In June, the company announced that it was eliminating 600 support jobs and trimming another 800 positions through voluntary sabbaticals lasting between six months and a year.

Auto industry: Ford's stock takes plunge on layoff, restructuring plan

Embattled Ford Motor Co. is slashing up to 5,000 white-collar jobs in North America and said that its 2001 earnings would fall short of Wall Street's expectations.

Ford also will unveil a more extensive restructuring plan at the end of the year, Chief Financial Officer Martin Inglis said during a conference call Friday, adding that "nothing is off limits."

Ford stock plunged 8 percent on the news. Shares of rivals General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG also fell.

Inglis said the Ford cuts would come about mainly through early retirement and buyout packages offered to certain employees. They represent about 10 percent of Ford's North American salaried work force of approximately 50,000. Overall, Ford employs about 350,000, including Sherry Parks, above. About 200 of the cuts will take place in Canada.

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