Originally created 08/14/97

Business briefs



Stocks end lower after seesaw ride

WASHINGTON - Wholesale prices fell in July for an unprecedented seventh straight month, but robust retail sales raised anxiety in financial markets that inflation could reignite.

Stocks and bonds both shot up at the opening but then seesawed through the remainder of Wednesday's gut-wrenching session that had a 160-point swing in the first hour.

The Dow Jones industrial average of stock prices, which had lost more than 60 points by midmorning, later regained its losses but closed down 32.52 at 7,928.32. Bonds, on the other hand, ended up slightly.

The Producer Price Index, which measures prices before they reach the consumer, declined a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in July, the Labor Department reported. It marked the longest string of declines in the half-century the government has been keeping track.

At the same time, the Commerce Department said retailers rang up a 0.6 percent increase in sales in July after registering a strong 0.7 percent increase a month earlier.

BBB warns of football requests

With the high-school football season just around the corner, the Augusta Better Business Bureau is warning merchants about an apparent scam in the area involving misrepresentation of high school football solicitations.

Jere Bennet, president of the BBB, said Wednesday that area coaches and businesses have contacted the bureau about a company's soliciting merchants with a high school team schedule requesting sponsorship.

One coach indicates that his school is not involved in such a solicitation now, Mr. Bennett said.

The bureau advises merchants to contact the BBB at 722-1574 or the athletic department of the school said to be involved before signing a contract or check for such service, Mr. Bennett said.

Magazine ranks states' child care

ALBANY, N.Y. - In Working Mother fifth annual study of child care nationwide, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin drew the highest marks for commitment, quality, safety and availability.

No state received the magazine's highest rating of 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 in any of the categories, however. Many states - including New York - drew average ratings, and Idaho, Louisiana and Mississippi got dismal ratings.

While noting that advances are being made, the magazine said child care is still "woefully inadequate and quality is lacking in far too many programs."

Many states still have to get away from the notion that child care is baby sitting, said Judsen Culbreth, editor-in-chief of Working Mother magazine.

The magazine praised some innovative state programs, including a program in Georgia that uses state lottery money to fund preschools. The program aims to eventually allow every 4-year-old to attend preschool for free.