Originally created 06/29/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - Stocks closed sharply higher Thursday as investors had a change of heart about interest rates and Microsoft savored a victory in its antitrust battle with the federal government. The Dow Jones industrials won back nearly half the losses suffered over the past four sessions.

After investors did some overnight reflecting on Wednesday's rate cut, they no longer seemed to regard it as a disappointment. Analysts said the market now believes the Federal Reserve will keep lowering rates until the economy starts showing some strength.

"The door was left open for further cuts. I think that's positive," said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee.

The Dow rose 131.37 to 10,566.21, changing course after four losing sessions that produced an aggregate decline of 268 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 15.13 to 1,226.20, while the Nasdaq composite index advanced 50.72 to 2,125.46.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners slightly more than 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.30 billion shares, ahead of the 1.14 billion shares reported Wednesday.

Mortgage rates record mixed week

WASHINGTON - Mortgage rates around the country were mixed this week after edging down for three weeks in a row.

The average interest on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages held steady at 7.11 percent, unchanged from last week, the mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Fifteen-year mortgages dipped to 6.63 percent from last week's 6.65 percent.

Coke says sales volume will grow

ATLANTA - Coca-Cola Co. said Thursday it expects second-quarter worldwide case volume growth of 4 percent, but warned that currency rates will lower its operating income for the year.

Coke said weak currencies will affect operating income by 4 percent to 5 percent instead of 3 percent to 4 percent, as the company initially predicted.

Case units are expected to grow 2 percent to 3 percent this quarter in North America, the company's most profitable market, which has performed weakly for Coke the past two years. One case unit is equal to 24 eight-ounce servings.

For the full year, Coke repeated its estimate of 5 percent to 6 percent growth.

Brothers charged in coupon scam

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Two brothers who ran a pair of supermarkets were charged with pocketing nearly $800,000 by redeeming coupons they bought on the black market.

Barry Palank, 51, and Lee Palank, 49, are charged with obtaining 1.3 million coupons from an illicit broker, then redeeming them as if customers had used them at their stores.

The Palanks were charged with mail fraud - using the mail in their scheme - and with tax evasion for not paying taxes on the revenues received.

If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.