Originally created 05/23/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - Investors gravitated toward technology stocks again Tuesday, sending the Nasdaq composite index modestly higher for a sixth-straight session, its longest winning streak since February 2000.

Blue chips faltered, however, on a mix of company-specific news, profit-taking and an expected pullback from the big advance that sent the Dow Jones industrials up 464.95, or 4.3 percent, over the previous four sessions.

The Nasdaq closed up 8.26 at 2,313.85, a nearly 0.4 percent gain, for a total advance of 231.93, or 11.1 percent since last Tuesday. The index's last six-day advance ended Feb. 8, 2000.

The Dow fell 80.68 or 0.7 percent to 11,257.24, giving back the gains Monday that sent it to its highest close since Jan. 20, 2000, when it reached 11,351.30.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 3.45 or nearly 0.3 percent to 1,309.38. The loss cut short its own six-day advance of 67.16 or 5.4 percent.

Declining issues led advancers 15 to 14 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.52 billion shares, compared with the 1.46 billion Monday.

HealthSouth settles Medicare suit

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - HealthSouth Corp. said Tuesday it paid $8.2 million to settle claims it overcharged Medicare in a deal involving a company owned by the parents of Chief Executive Richard M. Scrushy.

The agreement ended a Justice Department lawsuit over the way the Birmingham-based rehabilitation company accounted for a series of deals from 1992 through 1997.

The lawsuit involved the reporting of costs relating to leases of three rehabilitation hospitals, the purchase of computer equipment and services and the disposal of computer equipment owned by another company that HealthSouth bought in 1994.

HealthSouth is the nation's largest provider of outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging and rehabilitation care. It has more than 1,900 locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Delta pilots begin vote on contract

ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines' 9,800 pilots started voting Tuesday on a new contract proposal that would make them the highest paid in the industry.

The telephone balloting, which began at noon, will continue through noon June 20. A simple majority is required for approval.

The five-year contract, with back pay to May 1, 2000, would provide raises of 24 percent to 39 percent and raises of up to 63 percent at Delta Express, the carrier's lower-cost subsidiary.

Pilot salaries vary from less than $30,000 annually to more than $350,000 for a few.

But sections outlining work rules and retirement benefits have proved contentious, with some pilots urging their colleagues to reject the contract.