Originally created 07/22/98

Business briefs



Nursing home crackdown

WASHINGTON -- Calling the care of the elderly one of the nation's "most sacred duties," President Clinton said Tuesday he is cracking down on nursing homes that are lax about quality and on states that do a poor job of regulating them.

The president asked Congress to tighten oversight of nursing homes. And he used his executive authority to require that states inspect nursing homes on a frequent and random basis, "so there is no time to hide neglect and abuse."

"The duty we owe to our parents is one of the most sacred duties we as Americans owe to each other," Clinton said. "When people living in nursing homes have as much fear from dehydration and poor nutrition as they do from the diseases of old age ... then we are failing our parents and we must do more."

HP warns of bad earnings news

NEW YORK -- Hewlett-Packard Corp. on Tuesday warned its profits will be wiped out this quarter, the latest technology company to be hit hard by Asia's lingering slump and slower demand for high-tech equipment.

The company said it would report flat to lower profits -- far below Wall Street expectations for a 7 percent gain -- for the fiscal third quarter ending July 31. Revenue grew by less than 10 percent during the period, the company added.

The financial results will be released Aug. 17.

Former bond trader ordered to repay $8.2 million

WASHINGTON -- A former Kidder Peabody & Co. bond trader accused of creating fictitious profits that earned him multi-million dollar bonuses was ordered Tuesday by an administrative law judge to repay $8.2 million.

The decision ends a long-running legal saga for Joseph Jett, who allegedly masterminded a $348 million phony profits scheme that hastened the 1994 demise of the former Wall Street powerhouse.

The ruling was a partial victory for Jett. The Securities and Exchange Commission had accused him of securities fraud and had sought $11.4 million in repayments and another $11.4 million in penalties.

Housing starts rise

WASHINGTON -- Housing starts rose a sharp 5.6 percent last month, led by a surge in apartment buildings as developers took advantage of low interest rates.

Builders in June started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.62 million units, up 5.6 percent from May and about 8 percent above the level of new starts in June 1997, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Starts on single-family homes rose 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,250,000 units, up from 1,219,000 units in May. But starts on apartment units jumped 24.5 percent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000, the highest since last December.

Winery to pay fines

WASHINGTON -- For wining and dining former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, California's Robert Mondavi winery will pay $120,000 in fines and costs to escape an independent counsel's investigation into illegal gratuities.

Total tab of the gifts, wine included: $394.

Espy, who resigned as agriculture secretary in late 1994, is awaiting an Oct. 1 trial on criminal charges of illegally accepting gifts from several companies regulated by the Agriculture Department. He has pleaded innocent.

Stocks lower

NEW YORK -- A late burst of profit-taking dragged stocks lower Tuesday, halting a bid at a 10th straight Nasdaq record. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 105.56 to 9,190.19.

Sugar futures prices tumbled 5 percent, grain and soybean futures fell a second day, and crude oil futures prices rose. The Commodity Research Bureau index of 17 commodities fell to the lowest level since July 1993 amid a broad retreat in most commodities.