Originally created 05/11/02

Business briefs



BRIEFLY

Big drop in food costs helps drive down prices

WASHINGTON - The biggest drop in food costs in nearly three decades helped drive down wholesale prices by 0.2 percent in April.

The decline in the Producer Price Index, which measures prices paid to factories, farms and other producers, marked a big turnaround from the sharp 1 percent increase registered in March, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The index is an important gauge of inflation at the wholesale level - before goods reach store shelves. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the "core" rate of wholesale inflation nudged up by just 0.1 percent for the second straight month.

Unemployment claims rise 40.5 percent in area

Initial unemployment insurance claims in Augusta rose 40.5 percent in April compared to the previous year. Initial claims, an indicator of newly unemployed workers, increased to 1,468 from 1,045 in April 2001.

Statewide, claims fell 4.4 percent, with Albany, Athens and Columbus posting unemployment claims decreases of 31.8 percent, 20.6 percent and 24.9 percent, respectively. Atlanta and Macon had increases of 28.3 percent and 69.8 percent, respectively.

Security Federal will pay 2 cents for each share

Aiken-based Security Federal Corp., the parent company of Security Federal Bank, announced that a quarterly dividend of 2 cents a share will be paid on or about June 14 to shareholders of record as of May 31.

This is the 46th consecutive quarterly dividend to shareholders since the bank's conversion in October 1987 from a mutual to a stock form of ownership. The dividend was declared as a result of the bank's continued profitability.

DID YOU KNOW?

Next time, sign that card with a crayon

Binney & Smith, the maker of Crayola brand crayons and markers, is owned by Hallmark Cards Inc.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark, which posted $4 billion in sales last year, is two-thirds owned by the Hall family and is the No. 1 producer of greeting cards.