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Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Briefcase

April 9, 2005

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New board chairman takes helm at NYSE

The former chairman and chief executive officer of a Boston investment firm has been elected chairman of the New York Stock Exchange's board of directors.

Marshall N. Carter, former State Street Corp. executive, had been the front-runner to succeed John Reed, the former co-CEO of Citigroup Inc. who took over the chairmanship in 2003 after former chairman and CEO Richard A. Grasso resigned amid controversy over his pay package.

"It's a great privilege to chair the board of the world's leading equities market," Carter said. "My colleagues on the board of directors, the board of executives and the management team will continue to ensure the pre-eminence of the NYSE and America's capital marketplace."

Carter, above left, and NYSE CEO John Thain prepare to ring the opening bell Friday.

Economy

Despite energy prices, consumers confident

Consumer confidence was fairly steady during the past month despite surging energy prices and more cautious hiring by America's employers.

The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index clocked in at 84.5 in April, compared with a reading of 84.2 in March, according to figures released Friday. A year ago, the index stood at 84.8.

April's reading suggests that consumers still feel pretty good about the economy in general even against the backdrop of high prices for oil, gasoline and other energy products, a slowdown in the growth of the nation's payrolls and rising interest rates.

Consumer confidence is closely watched by economists for possible signs about people's buying habits. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States.

Auto industry

Ford lowers forecast for profits this year

Ford Motor Co. on Friday lowered full-year profit guidance due to difficult business conditions in the automotive sector, and doesn't expect to reach its goal of hitting $7 billion in total company pretax profits by 2006.

The company now expects 2005 earnings in the range of $1.25 to $1.50 a share. Last month, Ford said its full-year profit would be at the lower end of expectations for earnings of between $1.75 to $1.95 per share.

Ford said its guidance excludes special items of 8 cents to 10 cents a share for the Premier Automotive Group improvement plan, investments in fuel cell technologies, and the sale of a non-core business.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial currently expect earnings of $1.64 per share on revenue of $148.49 billion during the year.

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