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Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

Business briefcase for Friday

September 14, 2001

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questions ability

As airlines began limited operations after a two-day shutdown, a major credit rating agency questioned their ability to weather the fallout from this week's terrorism.

Before a single plane took off Thursday, Standard and Poor's placed most major airlines' credit ratings on its watch list for possible downgrade, citing Tuesday's attacks and their aftermath.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Assn., which represents 276 airlines worldwide, increased its loss forecast for airlines to $10 billion from $6 billion.

INTERNET

Dot-coms offer space

for attack victims

Internet companies in New York's Silicon Alley, hit hard by the dot-com bust, are donating unused office space to firms displaced by Tuesday's attacks that leveled the World Trade Center and damaged nearby offices.

The Alley, about two miles north of the devastated financial district, is home to hundreds of Web-based companies, many of which have layed off employees and severely curtailed operations in the last year. So far, about 50 businesses have offered space to any company that needs a place to work while its own offices reopen or are repaired or replaced.

EUROPE

Central Bank holds

interest rates steady

The European Central Bank left its key interest rate unchanged at 4.25 percent Thursday, but joined with the U.S. Federal Reserve in supplying quick credit to keep banks running smoothly following terror attacks in the United States.

The interest rate decision was widely expected, coming a day after ECB President Wim Duisenberg told a European Parliament panel that a rate cut following the attacks would do more to create an atmosphere of panic than of stability.

INVESTIGATION

Seaboard checks into

animal abuse case

Seaboard Farms said it was cooperating with authorities and conducting its own investigation into alleged mistreatment of animals at a company-operated farm.

The Merriam-based pork processor said it recently learned that a former employee recently had been arrested on charges of animal abuse, stemming from "an isolated incident" while the person was a Seaboard employee.

"First and foremost we want to make it clear that Seaboard Farms has an absolute zero tolerance policy toward the inhumane treatment of our animals," said Stephen Summerlin, Seaboard's vice president of operations. "Our policy is to provide for the care and well being of every animal in our system. It is the ethical thing to do and it makes good business sense."

ECONOMY

Unemployment claims

continue to climb

New claims for state unemployment insurance increased last week as the nation's weakening economy continued to take its toll on workers.

The number of workers filing new applications for jobless benefits rose 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 431,000 for the work week ending Sept. 8, the Labor Department reported Thursday. For the previous week, a revised 410,000 workers filed for jobless benefits.

The total number of laid-off workers drawing unemployment benefits continued to increase, hitting almost 3.35 million -- a level not seen in nearly a decade, when the country was struggling to emerge from the last recession.

EARNINGS

Oracle says profits

up in first quarter

Software giant Oracle Corp. reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday, but tabled discussion of the results and management's outlook until the stock market reopens next week.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company earned $510.6 million, or 9 cents per share, for its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 31, up 2 percent from $500.7 million, or 8 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The consensus estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call was 8 cents per share.

With its software sales eroding, Oracle's revenue in the quarter dipped 1 percent to $2.24 billion.

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