Archive for Saturday, December 20, 2003

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December 20, 2003

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Markets end week higher

The Dow Jones industrials and the Standard & Poor's 500 index notched a fourth straight week of advances after a day of mixed trading Friday, when optimistic investors started to wonder whether stock prices were getting a bit high.

"It's been an amazing week, and we're trying to add to some of the gains," said Peter Dunay, chief market strategist at Wall Street Access, a New York-based brokerage firm. He cited better-than-expected reports earlier in the week that pointed to strong manufacturing and low inflation.

For the week, the Dow advanced 2.4 percent, the Nasdaq edged up 0.1 percent and the S&P rose 1.4 percent. The Dow and S&P's four-week winning streak was the longest since a stretch that ended Sept. 5.

Mutual Funds

Janus to return $31.5M

Janus Capital Group Inc. said Friday it would pay back $31.5 million gained from questionable mutual fund trading arrangements being investigated by regulators.

Janus said it had not determined whether the money would be given directly to shareholders or placed in funds affected by market timing, a strategy under which investors make quick in-and-out trades.

The Denver-based company also announced tighter controls on mutual fund management, including naming an independent director as its chairman -- a job that had been expected to go to CEO Mark Whiston. The company named Steve Scheid, a member of its board, the chairman position.

Investigation

Former trader admits stealing $43M at Merrill

Merrill Lynch's former chief energy trader admitted stealing $43 million from the firm Friday in a plea deal under which he also accused superiors of directing him to make the company's energy business seem more profitable than it was.

Daniel L. Gordon, 27, of Old Lyme, Conn., pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in U.S. District Court in New York. Gordon promised to testify against others, if necessary, as part of a continuing probe.

Sentencing was set for April 30. Gordon was released on $500,000 bail. Merrill Lynch spokesman Mark Herr said the company was cooperating fully with the government and had not heard Gordon make allegations before that other Merrill Lynch employees had assisted him in inflating the value of the company's energy business.

Life Sciences

Serologicals to sell unit

Serologicals Corp. announced Friday that it has reached an $18 million deal to sell its its therapeutic plasma business to Gradipore, a company based in Sydney, Australia.

Serologicals is building a manufacturing plant in Lawrence's East Hills Business Park. The therapueutic plasma business is not directly related to that plant.

Serologicals had previously announced it was looking for a buyer for the division as part of a plan to transform the company into an innovation and support services firm for the life sciences industry.

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