Originally created 07/12/97

Business briefs



Computer stocks make rally Friday

NEW YORK - Personal computer stocks rallied Friday and some market measures set new highs as interest rates fell to the lowest level all year on more signs that inflationary pressures have ebbed.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 35.06 to 7,921.82 after retreating from a 68-point gain that had put the blue-chip barometer within 45 points of the 8,000 mark. The Dow gained 26.01 for the week, but finished about 40 points shy of Tuesday's record close at 7,962.31.

Gallery has new location

After seven years on Riverwalk Augusta, Augusta Art Exchange Gallery moved this week to the Artists Row block of Broad Street.

"We felt like we needed to be over where the art scene is developing," said Katrina Gray, a stockbroker who owns the gallery with Kristin Varn.

The new store at 1028 Broad St. will have the same amount of floor space as the old store, but will all be on one level. It sells pieces produced by local and regional artists in wood, metal, ceramics, glass, books, recordings and paintings.

Health care evolving

WASHINGTON - After years of unsuccessful efforts to revamp America's health care system, sweeping changes are moving ahead through the back-door mechanism of a budget bill. Lobbyists are scrambling to protect their corporate interests.

In many ways, it is the kind of scenario where lobbying can be most effective: complex legislation that commands relatively little public attention given its broad impact on consumers but holds huge consequences for competing industries.

Government health-care payments are being shifted among medical providers and among regions of the country; Medicaid and Medicare are going under the knife, cut by $115 billion over the next five years; and health care for uninsured children is getting a financial transfusion of up to $24 billion.

U.S. companies grab shares

WASHINGTON - Mexico's admission to the free trade zone with the United States and Canada 31/2 years ago helped U.S. companies grab huge shares of Mexico's market from foreign competitors, the Clinton administration said Friday.

The gains range from textiles to transportation equipment to electronic appliances, it said in its initial assessment of the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement.

But the assertion was labeled irrelevant by critics who contended U.S. employers are moving factories to Mexico and, even when they're staying put, are using the threat of moving to hold down wages.