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Archive for Friday, February 27, 2004

Briefcase

February 27, 2004

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Retailers' results mixed

A pending sale of its Eckerd Drug Store chain led to a loss for J.C. Penney Co. in the fourth quarter, the company reported Thursday. The retailer said it lost $3.42 per share compared to a profit of 68 cents per share during the same period a year ago.

Gap Inc. reported earnings of 37 cents per share versus 27 cents a year ago, while Kohl's Corp.'s earnings fell to 72 cents per share from 81 cents per share during the same period in 2002. American Eagle Outfitters also reported earnings fell to 49 cents per share, down from 54 cents per share. All four companies operate stores in Lawrence.

Above, a shopper leaves a Gap store in San Francisco.

Economy

Factory orders fall

Factories saw orders for big-ticket goods drop by 1.8 percent in January, but much of that reflected huge declines in bookings for commercial and military airplanes.

The overall figure, released by the Commerce Department Thursday, obscured gains in other areas as the nation's manufacturers work to keep their recovery moving along.

The 1.8 percent decrease in orders for "durable" goods -- costly manufactured products expected to last at least three years -- came after a revised 1.6 percent gain registered in December, which was better than previously estimated.

Although economists were forecasting a 1.4 percent rise in new bookings in January, the decline actually appeared to overstate the weakness.

Wichita

Boeing wins ruling in discrimination case

A federal judge handed the Boeing Co. a big win in a sex discrimination case brought by female employees at the company's Wichita plant.

Reversing his earlier decision, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown withdrew class-action status for the bulk of the claims brought by the women.

In a ruling made public Wednesday, Brown also issued a summary judgment in favor of Boeing on the plaintiffs' remaining claims of discrimination in overtime pay for hourly female workers.

In April, Brown initially certified as a class-action the lawsuit brought by salaried female employees who said they were discriminated against in salary and promotions.

Real Estate

Mortgage rate steady

Rates on benchmark 30-year mortgages remained at a seven-month low this week, while rates for other types of mortgages were mixed.

The average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages was 5.58 percent, unchanged from the previous week, which had marked the lowest rate since 5.52 percent for the week ending July 11, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported Thursday in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates.

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