Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

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July 9, 2004

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Jobless claims decline to October 2000 levels

The number of new people signing up for jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than three years, a potentially encouraging sign for a labor market experiencing a bumpy recovery.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance plunged by a seasonally adjusted 39,000 to 310,000 for the week ending July 3. That marked the best showing since Oct. 8, 2000. The latest snapshot of the layoffs climate was better than economists were expecting. They were forecasting claims to decline to around 345,000.

The four-week moving average of new claims dropped last week by a seasonally adjusted 10,250 to 336,000. That marked the lowest level since May 22.

Telecommunications

FCC, Nextel reach deal to improve systems

A plan aimed at ending cell phone interference that has affected hundreds of public safety systems around the country won approval from federal regulators Thursday.

The decision, which gives Nextel Communications Inc. access to a valuable new piece of broadcast spectrum, was harshly criticized by the cell phone industry's lobbying group and by Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest cell company. They said it amounted to a taxpayer giveaway to Nextel worth billions of dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to give Nextel spectrum worth $4.8 billion. In exchange, the Reston, Va.-based company will give up other spectrum and pay to reconfigure the airwaves it currently occupies to ensure public service communications systems are free of interference.

Retail

Payless sales fall in June

Shares of Topeka-based Payless ShoeSource were down sharply Thursday after it announced same-store sales fell by 1 percent during June.

The company's stock price fell 9 percent to close down $1.38 to $13.11 in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Total company sales totaled $289.2 million, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to the $291.3 million in sales during June of last year. For the first five months of Payless' fiscal year, same store sales are up 2.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Payless officials called the sales totals "disappointing," especially given three prior months of gains. The company partly blamed rainy and cool weather for the sales decline.

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