Originally created 02/20/01

Business briefs



Overseas trading light on U.S. holiday

NEW YORK - Stock markets in Europe and Asia ended Monday narrowly mixed as investors adopted a trading pattern recently embraced by their American counterparts.

Investors abroad sold off riskier tech issues and sent safer stocks, such as those in the oil and consumer brand sectors, higher. But with Wall Street closed for the Presidents Day holiday, overseas activity was light.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average slipped 55.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,119.59. On Friday, the average fell 1.1 percent.

California's propane prices double

ALPAUGH, Calif. - Propane prices have jumped nationwide but have hit hardest in California, doubling to $2.35 a gallon as a byproduct of soaring natural gas costs that have put the state on the brink of blackouts for more than a month.

Lower holiday weekend demand gave Californians on Friday their first reprieve from blackout alert status in 32 days. But the longer-term picture remains uncertain.

Unilever sells baking company

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands - Unilever said Monday it reached a deal to sell Bestfoods Baking Co. to George Weston Ltd. of Canada for $1.77 billion.

The Anglo-Dutch giant has been publicly negotiating the sale of the unit since October, seeking to focus on leading brands in other food categories and on home and personal care products. Those brands include Lipton, Knorr, Slim-Fast and Hellmans.

Weston is known for baking Girl Scout cookies.