Originally created 02/28/01

Business briefs



Tech stocks dive on confidence news

NEW YORK - A report showing consumer confidence at a more than four-year low sent the Nasdaq composite index to its weakest finish in 26 months Tuesday. Analysts said investors were growing increasingly anxious about the economy and the Federal Reserve's ability to reverse its decline.

The selloff reflected Wall Street's disappointment that the Fed did not cut interest rates Tuesday - a move that would have been an extraordinary step, coming three weeks before the central bank's next meeting.

"I think the expectation was building that we would get an intra-meeting cut, but when nothing happened today, the market sold off," said Jon Brorson, director of equities at Northern Trust. "People are waiting for a catalyst, like a Fed rate cut, before jumping back in and buying tech stocks."

The Nasdaq closed down 100.68 at 2,207.82, its worst finish since Dec. 31, 1998, when the technology-focused gauge closed at 2,192.69.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.65 to 10,636.88, keeping most of the 200-point gain it racked up Monday on speculation that an interest rate cut was imminent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 9.71 to 1,257.94.

Declining issues led advancers 8-to-7 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to nearly 1.10 billion shares, compared with just over 1.11 billion Monday.

Meeting urges strong business ties

Main Street Augusta will kick off the Downtown Block Captain Program at 5 p.m. today at the Blue Sky Kitchen, 990 Broad St. The program encourages improved relationships among downtown businesses, residents and city officials.

"A lot of the businesses don't know about others downtown," said Glen Bennett, spokesman for Main Street Augusta. "This is also about improving relationships amongst ourselves - not just between business and government."

Representatives from the mayor's office, along with theplanning and zoning, license and inspection, and emergency management departments, will attend. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Paper company offering grants

International Paper Foundation grants are available to nonprofit organizations focused on education in the Augusta area.

"We are proud to offer a financial boost to area agencies providing valuable services," said Sherry Lorenz, communications manager for International Paper's Augusta mill. "The grants provide resources for programs that organizations may not have been able to fund otherwise."

Organizations must be classified under Section 501c(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. For an application send a self-addressed stamped envelope to International Paper, c/o Sherry Lorenz, Communications, P.O. Box 1425, Augusta, GA 30903-1425.