Originally created 06/05/99

Additional business news



Interest-rate fears subside as Dow up

NEW YORK -- The government's monthly employment report helped temper Wall Street investors' concerns Friday that the Federal Reserve might soon raise interest rates to slow the economy.

Bargain-hunting that followed the recent selloff on Wall Street also contributed to Friday's gains, as the Dow Jones industrial average rose 136.15 to close at 10,799.84. For the week, the Dow was up 240.10.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by an 8-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 689.91 million shares, compared with 716.15 million in the previous session.

P&G job cut report boosts stock

CINCINNATI -- Procter & Gamble Co.'s stock price jumped more than 3 percent Friday after a report that the consumer products maker plans to cut thousands of jobs and close plants at a cost of up to $3 billion to become more competitive.

It's not clear how the Augusta plant could be affected, but The New York Times reported that most of the new round of cuts are expected to take place outside the United States.

"We have announced nothing," said P&G spokesman Simon Denegri. "All stories are speculative."

The Times reported Friday that P&G will announce the changes when its executives meet with investors and analysts Wednesday in New York to detail what P&G calls Organization 2005. The Times attributed its report to analysts and institutional investors who have already met with management.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Procter & Gamble was up $3.12 1/2 a share to $96.62 1/2 .

The expected announcement would be the first major overhaul since Durk Jager took over as chief executive Jan. 1 after 29 years with the company.

Brokerage admits discrimination

NEW YORK -- Merrill Lynch & Co. will begin settlement negotiations with about 300 of the 900 women who filed sex discrimination claims against the firm earlier this year as part of a nationwide class-action lawsuit.

Merrill Lynch, the nation's largest brokerage firm, acknowledged in a memo Friday to its national sales staff that "in some instances, where it is clear that co-workers or managers did not treat women properly, Merrill Lynch will take appropriate action against those responsible for the improper conduct."

Duty-free shopping in EU to end

COLOGNE, Germany -- Duty-free shopping within the European Union will almost certainly end June 30.

A last-ditch appeal from Britain and France was vetoed by Denmark and the Netherlands, blocking the required unanimity.

EU nations agreed nine years ago to end tax-free sales of luxury goods for travelers on ferries and planes between EU nations. Duty-free sales will still be allowed for travel outside the EU.