Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Briefcase

March 14, 2002

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Greenspan sees more positive economic signs

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who last week said the recession has apparently ended, voiced further optimism about the economy Wednesday, noting that employment had increased in February.

Speaking to a bankers meeting, Greenspan said that job layoffs diminished "noticeably in January and employment turned up last month."

Greenspan also stuck to his view that the current recovery is likely to be slower than previous economic rebounds, given that consumers continued significant spending last year on such big-ticket items as new cars and homes, even in the midst of the slowdown.

Agriculture: State denies rumors of foot-and-mouth disease

Kansas Department of Agriculture officials said they were very confident rumors that surfaced Wednesday of foot-and-mouth disease near Holton would be proven to be false.

Officials with the state's animal health department ordered tests on up to 16 cattle at a sale barn in Holton that had suspicious blisters in their mouth. Lisa Taylor, an agriculture department spokeswoman, said preliminary investigations indicated the blisters were caused by a variety of hay the cattle were fed, not by the highly contagious cattle disease.

Results from the test were expected late Wednesday. If positive, it would be the first confirmed case of the disease in U.S. since 1929. The disease is very rarely harmful to humans but would likely result in a ban of U.S. cattle sales to many overseas markets.

The rumor spread quickly Wednesday, causing corn futures to drop sharply on trading at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wichita: Call center cuts 670 jobs

The Spiegel Group has announced it will close its Wichita call center, eliminating 670 jobs.

Spiegel, based in Downers Grove, Ill., decided to close the center because of a decline in volume, spokeswoman Debbie Koopman said Tuesday. More customers are shopping on the Internet, she said, and technology has made call centers more efficient.

The Wichita center, which opened in 1994, will close May 17. It is one of five in North America that services the Spiegel Group, which includes Spiegel, Newport News and Eddie Bauer catalogs.

Discrimination: Honeywell faces lawsuit

Sixteen minority employees at the Honeywell plant on Bannister Road in Kansas City, Mo., filed separate race bias lawsuits against the defense giant Tuesday, alleging disparate treatment and discrimination in pay and promotions.

The lawsuits, filed in federal court in Kansas City, seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, a subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc.

Honeywell operates a manufacturing facility in Lawrence.

Manufacturing: TRW again rejects merger

The TRW Inc. board on Wednesday rejected Northrop Grumman Corp.'s unsolicited $5.9 billion buyout offer for a second time and said it plans to spin off its automotive parts business within nine months.

TRW, which also is a major defense manufacturer, said it has begun preliminary talks with others who have expressed interest in buying all or part of the automotive business and its aeronautical systems business.

The Northrop Grumman offer, valued at $47 per share, "does not begin to recognize the value of TRW's franchise," TRW chairman Phillip Odeen said.

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