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Archive for Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Briefcase

March 1, 2005

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KU chancellor to talk about economic forum

Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway will reflect on his experiences at the World Economic Forum during a presentation tonight.

Hemenway will speak at 8 p.m. in 427 Summerfield Hall as part of the Association of International Students in Science Economics and Commerce annual lecture series. The speech is free and open to the public.

Hemenway attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, conducted Jan. 26-30 in Davos, Switzerland. He was among 2,250 participants, primarily from business and government. Topics at the meeting included global warming, AIDS and other worldwide issues of interest.

Real estate

Bad weather cools sales of new homes

Sales of new homes fell 9.2 percent in January while the median price of a new home skidded to the lowest level in more than a year.

Analysts blamed the worse-than-expected showing on bad weather in many parts of the country rather than any serious problems in the red hot housing market.

New home sales dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.11 million units in January with every region of the country except the West exhibiting weakness, the Commerce Department reported. The median price of a home, the point where half sold for more and half for less, fell 13.2 percent to $199,400, the lowest level since December 2003.

Pharmaceuticals

Biogen, Elan shares dive as drug pulled

The makers of Tysabri, a new drug used to treat multiple sclerosis, announced Monday they were voluntarily suspending sales of the drug after one patient died and another developed a serious disease of the central nervous system.

Stocks of both Biogen Idec Inc. and Elan Corp. tumbled.

Biogen shares fell $28.63, or nearly 43 percent, to close at $38.65 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Elan shares sank $18.90, or more than 70 percent, to an even $8 on the New York Stock Exchange. Those are the lowest prices for both stocks since 2003.

Trial

Ex-WorldCom CEO denies role in fraud

Bernard Ebbers took the stand at his trial Monday and flatly denied any role in the $11 billion accounting scandal that sank WorldCom, telling jurors his "marks weren't too good" in school and that he knows very little about accounting.

The former WorldCom CEO said he fancied himself as "coach" of the company and left the numbers-crunching to former finance chief Scott Sullivan.

Ebbers explicitly refuted earlier testimony from Sullivan, who claimed that Ebbers pressured him to cook the books to meet Wall Street expectations.

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