Originally created 05/07/02

Business briefs



BRIEFLY

Fed to hold interest rates steady

WASHINGTON - With unemployment at its highest level in nearly eight years, the Federal Reserve will hold interest rates steady this week and won't start to raise rates until joblessness begins to fall, economists forecast Monday.

On the eve of Tuesday's regular meeting of Fed officials to review interest rates, analysts were in widespread agreement that the central bank will not see this as the right time to start boosting interest rates as a pre-emptive strike against inflation.

Last week, the government reported that the unemployment rate climbed to 6 percent in April, the highest level since August 1994.

Northrop extends bid for TRW

CLEVELAND - Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. extended its $6.7 billion hostile takeover bid for TRW Inc. on Monday after entering a confidentiality agreement to look at the defense, aerospace and auto parts company's books.

The agreement with TRW will allow Northrop to receive nonpublic information about the company. Northrop previously complained that TRW set unacceptable limits for getting such a look at the TRW financial records.

Northrop extended its $53 a share offer, which expired Friday, until May 17. The decision comes after TRW shareholders voted on Friday to reject a proposal that would have supported Northrop's takeover attempt.

Campbell's introduces soup you can drink

CAMDEN, N.J. -The company that introduced the soup you can eat with a fork has a new line that doesn't require any utensils at all.

Campbell Soup Co.'s new Soup at Hand products, unveiled Monday at the Food Marketing Institute show in Chicago, have plastic tops designed for sipping. The company says the soups need to be heated in a microwave for about a minute and a half before they're ready for slurping.

The sippable soups will be available nationally in September in tomato, creamy chicken, cream of broccoli and vegetable medley, with a suggested retail price $1.49 per 10 3/4 -ounce container.

Top officials resign after auditor's probe

SAN DIEGO - The chairman and the chief financial officer of Peregrine Systems Inc. resigned after the software company's new auditor questioned as much as $100 million in transactions, it was announced Monday.

The company's stock plunged nearly 60 percent in early trading to just over $1 a share.

Peregrine said the potential problems were discovered by independent auditor KPMG, which was hired in April to replace Arthur Andersen LLP, the company marred by the Enron scandal.

End of Iraqi embargo sends oil prices down

NEW YORK - The price of crude oil fell 3 percent Monday after Iraq's decision to abandon its embargo and resume shipments of oil to the United States and other allies of Israel.

The price of June futures of light, sweet crude oil fell 80 cents, or just over 3 percent, to $25.82, in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. July futures lost 75 cents, a decline of 2.9 percent, falling to $25.52.

The dropoff in futures prices followed the Iraqi Cabinet's vote Sunday to resume exports beginning at midnight tonight because the country failed to win support for the embargo.

Passengers fly again, signaling summer rush

LEESBURG, Va.-The nation's airlines are flying almost as often as they did before the terrorist attacks, renewing concerns about summer flight delays.

Including private and military planes, there are 95 percent as many flights now as there were before Sept. 11, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman William Shumann said. After the attacks, the airlines cut the number of flights by about 20 percent.

The 32 major hub airports are averaging 91 percent of their pre-Sept. 11 schedules, while Chicago O'Hare had even more flights during one period this spring than it had a year earlier, said Peter Challan, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for air traffic services.

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