Worried investors bring stocks down
NEW YORK - Stymied by concerns about interest rates and earnings, investors sold stocks lower Thursday, focusing once again on technology issues.
The latest blow for high-tech stocks was Merrill Lynch's downgrade of the fiber-optics industry, which had been seen as the last solid performer in the tech sector. Investors were still shaken by the renewed prospect of higher interest rates that would further cut into corporate earnings.
Prices fluctuated in a narrow range for much of the day as the market sought a direction. By late afternoon, investors found a path: downward.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 133.61, to close at 3,031.88, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 17.49 at 1,372.32. Both indexes have a large representation of high-tech stocks.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 51.57 at 10,656.03.
Clinton signs export tax bill
WASHINGTON - President Clinton signed tax legislation that he said should avert a trade war with the European Union, meeting a deadline today to replace a U.S. export tax system invalidated by the World Trade Organization.
If he had not acted, the EU could have begun imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods that have been estimated at $4 billion.
Even though EU officials have indicated they still will press for trade penalties, Mr. Clinton said the new tax system "will avoid an immediate confrontation" because the WTO must review U.S. law before authorizing any retaliatory action.
Firm recalls Curious George dolls
WASHINGTON - A New York City company is recalling about 4,600 Curious George musical pull toys because each has two elastic cords that could strangle young children.
Prestige Toy Corp. has received a report of a child found with the cords wrapped around his neck, although no injuries have been reported, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday.
The stuffed fabric toy has Curious George holding two red and yellow balloons, which are attached by two retractable elastic cords covered with green fabric. It can hang from cribs, playpens, or other children's furniture.
A red tag on the toy reads in part "STYLE 3490," "Curious George Adventures" and "Made In China."
TheStreet.com cuts jobs, operations
NEW YORK - Struggling financial news site TheStreet.com announced a sweeping cost cutting program Thursday that includes slashing 20 percent of its work force, shutting down its British operation and dismantling a joint newsroom with The New York Times.
Thomas Clarke, chief executive of TheStreet.com, told investors on a conference call that the measures would provide a "huge step" toward the company's goal of becoming profitable by the second half of next year.
About half of the expected annual cost savings of $18 million would come from closing of the TheStreet.com's British operation, which was due to run out of money by the end of the year.
TheStreet.com owns 63 percent of the year-old business and plans to buy out other investors for $3 million in cash and 1.25 million shares in stock.
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