Originally created 11/28/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - A weaker-than-expected consumer confidence report gave Wall Street another reason to sell Tuesday, intensifying a pullback that began with investors cashing in recent profits.

Selling pressure persisted for much of the day - a reflection of doubts that the worst is truly over for stocks. Analysts said investors, fearful that the market will fall back again, aren't willing to leave themselves too exposed.

"We've had a very strong move upward in the market since Sept. 21 and a pullback was almost overdue," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.

Declining issues led advancers more than 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.60 billion shares, compared with 1.40 billion Monday.

Air carriers retain $20 fuel surcharge

NEW YORK- Most major airlines plan to maintain a fuel surcharge of $20 on each one-way ticket even though the price of jet fuel has been cut in half during the past year.

The industry's reluctance to drop the charge contrasts with the nation's major hotel companies, which have eliminated the additional fees they put in place to combat skyrocketing energy prices.

"Regardless of what fuel prices do, our costs continue to rise and, especially in today's market, we need every nickel we can get because we are still losing about $10 million a day," John Hotard, a spokesman for American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, said Tuesday.

BellSouth condenses domestic operations

ATLANTA- BellSouth Corp. is combining its domestic operations to better compete against telecommunications rivals.

Gary Forsee, a company vice chairman and the president of BellSouth International, will lead the new domestic operations group. Mr. Forsee, 51, will continue as a board member of Cingular Wireless, BellSouth's joint venture with SBC Communications.

The new domestic operation will include customer markets, network services, regulatory and external affairs, and the company's advertising and publishing division.

"These changes are designed to strengthen our growth strategies in domestic voice and data," Duane F. Ackerman, BellSouth's chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday.

Utah copper company announces job cuts

SALT LAKE CITY- Kennecott Utah Copper said Tuesday it will lay off 180 people, or about 9 percent of its work force, as low prices and international competition continue to hurt its finances.

The cuts follow 235 in June. By January, the company will have about 1,800 employees.

Xerox nets $1 billion with cash campaign

STAMFORD, Conn.- Xerox Corp. announced Tuesday it has raised more than $1 billion, double the initial projection, through an offering of convertible trust preferred securities.

The office machines maker conducted the offering to raise cash after its credit rating was downgraded. Xerox announced a turnaround program a year ago that includes thousands of layoffs and the sale of billions of dollars in assets.

The private offering to institutional investors involved a guaranteed dividend of 7.5 percent, with an option to convert the security later to Xerox common stock.

WOMEN-OWNED FIRMS

The number of women-owned businesses with 100 or more employees and $1 million or more in revenue is growing faster than other businesses of the same size, according to a study conducted by the Center for Women's Business Research in Washington. The number of women-owned businesses increased by 43.9 percent between 1997 and 2000, according to the report. That was 68 percent faster than all other businesses.

SHOP FOR BENEFITS

To make the most of your company's benefits, treat them as you would any other major purchase, says Hewitt Associates, a Lincolnshire, Ill., management consulting firm. Research each plan as the wrong choice can be very expensive.

Ask yourself such questions as: Would your personal savings protect your family if you die? If you were disabled and couldn't work, how would you cover your expenses? Are you satisfied with your current medical and prescription drug plan?

Above all, don't miss the enrollment deadline. If you do, you might be assigned coverage you don't want.

FEWER CARRY CREDIT

Fewer U.S. consumers are carrying credit card debt than was the case a year ago, a recent survey shows. The poll, conducted by the Consumer Federation of America, indicates 38 percent of consumers are carrying credit card debt, down from 42 percent last year.

TOYS FOR TOTS DROP-OFF

Regions Bank of Clearwater, 4385 Jefferson Davis Highway, resumed its annual tradition as a drop-off point for the Toys for Tots campaign on Nov. 23. It's collection will continue through Dec. 17. The bank is open 9-5 Monday-Wednesday and 9-6 Thursdays and Fridays.