Originally created 06/02/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - Stocks turned higher Friday as investors, digesting some conflicting economic data, appeared more secure about placing bets on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial closed up 78.47 at 10,990.41. The Nasdaq was up 38.95 to 2,149.44, and Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 4.85 at 1,260.67.

Alfred E. Goldman, the director of market analysis at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis, said investors were heartened Friday when the National Association of Purchasing Management's report of continued weakness in manufacturing didn't pull the market down sharply.

"The money on the sidelines said, 'Whoops. I'd better start buying before the boat has left the dock,"' Mr. Goldman said.

The market, he added, "is acting as if it worked off short-term excesses and is ready to move up."

Advancing shares led declining shares 7 to 5 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume was 1.18 billion shares, compared with 1.43 billion Thursday.

Airborne will lay off 640 workers

SEATTLE - Airborne Inc., the holding company for shipping service provider Airborne Express, said Friday it will lay off 640 employees, or about 2.5 percent of its work force, because of slumping business.

The first layoffs in the company's 55-year history are expected to trim $26 million to $28 million in costs annually, the Seattle-based company said.

Long-distance giant boosts rates

WASHINGTON - AT&T is increasing its long-distance rates for more than 28 million customers who subscribe to the company's basic plan.

The increase by the nation's biggest carrier, with about 60 million subscribers, will take effect July 1 and involve basic-rate customers - those who don't pay a minimum fee for calling plans.

Under the change, basic-plan subscribers will pay 25 cents - up from 22.5 cents - per minute for long-distance calls from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weeknights; on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., the rate will go up from 29.5 cents to 30 cents each minute. Weekend calls will cost 16 cents per minute - up from 14.5 cents.

Subscribers who opt for a basic plan that has the same rate all the time will be charged 17.5 cents per minute. The cost was previously 16 cents per minute.

BellSouth issues earnings warning

ATLANTA - BellSouth Corp. warned Friday that weak currency exchange rates in Brazil and Colombia will lower second-quarter earnings by at least a nickel per share.

BellSouth, the dominant local telephone company in the Southeast, said the loss of 5 cents to 6 cents per share also would affect its yearly results. About 1 cent of that loss will be from Colombia, the company said.

For 2001, BellSouth said, it still expects per-share earnings to grow 7 to 9 percent.