Originally created 07/12/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - A fragmented stock market searched in vain for direction Wednesday - big blue chips rose, but the broader market was mixed while investors awaited second-quarter earnings reports.

A slightly better-than-expected earnings report from Yahoo! and brighter outlook from Motorola after the market closed suggested Wall Street might be in a better mood today, but many analysts predict more indecision ahead.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 65.38 at 10,241.02, recovering more than half of Tuesday's 123-point drop.

Broader market measures were mixed, with the Nasdaq composite index rising 9.25 to 1,972.04, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipping 1.34 to 1,180.18.

Declining issues outnumbered gainers nearly 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.6 billion shares, compared with 1.46 billion Tuesday.

Polaroid shares drop amid debts

BOSTON - Shares of Polaroid Corp., facing expiration today of a $360 million credit line, fell 30 percent Wednesday after a report that the company was considering filing for bankruptcy.

The camera and film maker said it remains optimistic it will receive a waiver from lenders and that negotiations will continue past today.

"It's not unusual that if both sides agree, and the talks are productive for a period of time, to go by the deadline," Polaroid spokesman Skip Colcord said.

Polaroid shares fell 82 cents to $1.88 in trading Wednesday, off from a 52-week high of $19.93.

Polaroid, founded in 1937, made its name making instant cameras and film, but it was caught flat-footed by the recent shift to digital technology.

In May, Polaroid debuted a line of Opal and Onyx digital printers, and unveiled a plan to share the technology with other companies and build kiosks in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls.

But although the technology impressed analysts, many believed it came too late to make a dent in Polaroid's debts, which totaled $860 million last month. The company laid off 950 workers in February and 2,000 last year.

Local economic indicator rises

The Augusta-Aiken area's "gross metropolitan product" grew to $14.8 billion in 2000, up from $13.85 billion from the previous year, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Augusta moved up a spot on the rankings of 319 U.S. metropolitan areas, from No. 189 to No. 188, placing it ahead of regional cities such as Charleston, S.C.; Macon; Savannah; and Columbus.

"As a region, we certainly have reason to celebrate," Mayor Bob Young said.

Gross metropolitan product is analogous to gross domestic product, the measure used to value the goods and services produced by a nation.