Trade deficit hits high
Americans' ravenous appetite for foreign-made cars, televisions and clothes propelled the U.S. trade deficit to a record $37.6 billion in May.
The deficit was 4.1 percent higher than the $36.1 billion trade gap reported for April, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Despite a modest increase in exports, imports rose more than twice as fast.
In another report, consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent in June, suggesting that inflation still is not a risk to the economy as it struggles to return to robust health.
With inflation under wraps, the Federal Reserve has leeway to leave short-term interest rates at 40-year lows to help along the recovery. Growing numbers of economists believe rates will be left unchanged for the rest of the year.
Johnson & Johnson
Drugmaker's shares fall on news of investigation
Shares of Johnson & Johnson plunged Friday after a published report said a criminal investigation had been launched into one of the company's factories in Puerto Rico.
The Ortho Biologics plant in Manati manufactures the anemia drug Eprex, which has been linked to serious illnesses in Europe and Canada.
The investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department was linked to a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a fired factory worker, The New York Times reported in Friday's editions.
In prepared statements, the company said it was aware of the government investigation.
WorldCom soon may file for bankuptcy protection
WorldCom Inc., struggling to find billions to keep its telecommunications empire from crumbling, may be only days from a bankruptcy filing that would dwarf those seen in the past.
The Clinton, Miss.-based long distance, Internet and data services provider revealed last month that it disguised nearly $4 billion in expenses to make it appear more profitable. Since then, analysts have said a bankruptcy filing was inevitable.
A source in the company familiar with WorldCom's financial situation said the telecom could opt for Chapter 11 by Monday. Company officials declined to comment.
Federal loan to increase state broadband services
A $6.76 million federal loan to a Wichita company will allow expansion and improvement of telecommunications services, chiefly broadband Internet access, in 36 counties of southeast Kansas.
The 10-year loan to Pixius Communications LLC was announced Thursday by Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, R-Kan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding the loan as part of its Rural Utilities Broadband Loan Program.
According to Brownback and Roberts, projects funded with the loan will be wireless broadband service available to about 90 percent of the 36 southeast Kansas counties.