Drop in blue chips deflates stock rally
NEW YORK -- Blue-chip stocks collapsed in the final half-hour of trading Wednesday, deflating a rally fueled by a $9.3 billion merger of Dow Chemical and Union Carbide. The broader market, plagued by fears of inflation, declined much more steeply.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.54 points to close at 10,674.77. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 2-to-1 margin on the New York Stock Exchange. NYSE volume totaled 781.24 million shares, compared with 729.36 million in the previous session.
Ford, UAW may face showdown
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. faces a possible showdown in national contract talks with the United Auto Workers over the potential spinoff of one of its parts plants, a move that would allow the plant to ignore the union contract with the No. 2 automaker.
The UAW opposes a spinoff, fearing it could threaten the jobs of its 28,500 members at the Visteon Automotive Systems parts unit. The union has scheduled an Aug. 17 strike-authorization vote at Ford plants nationwide.
Though such votes routinely are held prior to the expiration of UAW contracts, having all the locals at one company do so on the same day is unusual.
A strike authorization vote does not necessarily mean there would be a strike.
Work-related deaths decline
WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who died from injuries at work last year was the lowest since the Labor Department started keeping track in 1992.
Job-related deaths fell to 6,026 in 1998 -- about 17 fatal injuries each day -- down from 6,238 in 1997, according to the agency's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most workplace homicides were related to robberies and were at grocery stores, bars, restaurants and gas stations.
Orders to factories increase
WASHINGTON -- Orders to factories, bolstered by higher demand for autos and electronic equipment, rose 0.7 percent in June in a sign of recovery for the manufacturing sector that beat analysts' expectations by 0.3 percent.
This 10th increase in the past 13 months came after a 1 percent gain in May, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. A rise in orders for autos and car parts more than offset a decrease in demand for airplane and aircraft parts and contributed to a 2.3 percent increase in orders for all transportation products in June. That was down from a hefty 9.9 percent gain the month before.
BellSouth tops in customer poll
BellSouth was ranked the nation's top residential local phone company in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates for the fourth year in a row. This year BellSouth shared the top honor with Southern New England Telephone.
The study is based on responses from 12,185 residential telephone customers.