Originally created 01/05/02

Business briefs



Stocks continue win streak

NEW YORK - Stocks rose Friday for a third straight session, posting solid gains despite the worst monthly unemployment report in more than six years.

Investors focused on data that showed fewer jobs were cut in December than in previous months; those numbers seemed to strengthen Wall Street's conviction that there will indeed be an economic turnaround this spring. Technology stocks, which have led the market this week, continued their advance, and the momentum again spread to the broader market.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 87.60, or 0.9 percent, at 10,259.74, its best close since late August.

Broader indicators also rose. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index advanced 15.11, or 0.7 percent, to 2,059.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 7.24, or 0.6 percent, to 1,172.51.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.2 percent, the Nasdaq gained 3.6 percent and the S&P advanced nearly 1.0 percent.

Service Merchandise to close by end of year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Service Merchandise Co., a chain of more than 200 jewelry and home-appliance stores in 32 states, announced Friday that it is going out of business.

The 42-year-old catalog-showroom company, which operates a store in Augusta, has operated in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since 1999. It said its reorganization attempts were hindered by the weakened economy and slow sales after Sept. 11.

About 500 of its 9,300 employees will be laid off in January, with the others receiving termination notices throughout the year.

Service Merchandise reported losses of $180 million in 2000. As of November last year, it had liabilities totaling $1.34 billion and assets of $1 billion.

Forecasts for recession differ from '90s figures

NEW YORK -Economists say the current recession, which began last March, isn't expected to be as deep as the downturn a decade ago. At that time, the nation's unemployment rate rose to 7.8 percent, while analysts predict a peak of 6.5 percent this year.

But this time, the industrial sector has been especially hard hit. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates more than 1.2 million manufacturing jobs have been lost so far, more than double the industrial job losses in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, the hospitality and travel industries have been in a slump since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But banking and home building, which suffered mightily in 1990-91, are holding up better this time.

Billionaire brewer Heineken dies at 78

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands -Alfred Henry "Freddy" Heineken, who helped make his namesake beer one of the world's most popular brands, died Thursday. He was 78.

Mr. Heineken's family will retain his controlling stake in the brewer, which trails only Anheuser Busch and Interbrew in terms of size.

Mr. Heineken started his career at the company in June 1942 as an 18-year-old. The brewery was founded by his grandfather, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, in 1864.

He designed the famous green bottle and the logo with the red star and the graceful black banner bearing the brand name. The green bottles were more expensive than the alternative, but it didn't hurt their popularity.

Mr. Heineken was the richest man in the country, but his estimated fortune of more than $3.6 billion made him the target of criminals. In 1983, Heineken was abducted for three weeks before being released unharmed.

Count of oil, gas rigs in U.S. drops by four

HOUSTON -The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States this week was down four to 883.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 744 were exploring for gas, 138 were looking for oil, and one was listed as miscellaneous, Baker Hughes Inc. of Houston reported Friday.

A year ago, the rig count was 1,107.

Baker Hughes has kept track of the count since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 on Dec. 28, 1981, during the height of the oil boom.