Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2003

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March 13, 2003

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McDonald's sales slump continues in February

Sales at McDonald's Corp. restaurants slid for the 12th-straight month in February, continuing the fast-food chain's worst slump.

Worldwide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months dropped a worse-than-expected 4.7 percent in February, the company reported Wednesday. The so-called same-store sales are a key measure of performance.

McDonald's said the sluggish economies in the United States and Europe, its top worldwide markets, and severe winter weather contributed to the figure. Sales were down 4.4 percent in the United States and 3.9 percent in Europe excluding changes in foreign currency rates.

Economy

Trade deficit slims down

A pickup in foreign demand for American industrial supplies, household appliances and cosmetics helped to narrow the U.S. trade deficit to $41.1 billion in January.

Even with the improvement, however, the trade gap marked the second biggest monthly deficit on record, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The deficit slimmed down by 8.4 percent in January from December's record $44.9 billion. The gap narrowed as U.S. exports rose, helped out by a weaker U.S. dollar, and imports fell, reflecting the more cautious mood of American consumers and businesses.

Technology

Intel, PC makers tout fast, wireless Internet

Wielding $300 million in advertising cash and a new trio of computer components it calls Centrino, chipmaker Intel Corp. on Wednesday launched a huge effort to introduce the world to high-speed wireless Internet.

Alongside Intel's announcement, PC makers unwrapped scores of new laptops, most of which use Intel's new wireless, or WiFi, chips.

Yet some PC vendors also minted laptops that forgo Intel's wireless technology -- and its marketing help -- in favor of WiFi chipsets that transmit data even faster.

Internet

Enron broadband chiefs face federal charges

Federal prosecutors charged two Enron Corp. executives on Wednesday with a scheme to generate false earnings through an Internet movie-on-demand service that flopped.

Arrest warrants, brought in Houston, charge Kevin Howard and Michael Krautz with securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to FBI agents. Both are executives with Enron Broadband Services.

The charges stem from an attempt by Enron, in partnership with the Blockbuster Inc. video outlet chain, to set up an Internet video-on-demand business using broadband technology.

In a related federal court filing, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the pair with violating a number of federal securities laws.

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