Originally created 06/20/02

Business briefs



House expects close trade vote

WASHINGTON - House Republican leaders are marshaling their troops for what is expected to be a close party-line vote on a trade bill that is one of President Bush's top legislative priorities.

The vote, tentatively scheduled for today, is the latest in a line of hurdles to legislation that would give Mr. Bush greater authority to negotiate new international trade agreements while expanding benefits for American workers hurt by free trade.

The House passed its version of "fast track" or "trade promotion authority" in December on a highly partisan 215-214 vote. The Senate approved a larger package last month that included worker benefits and extension of a trade agreement with four South American countries.

Lawyers blame Gates in antitrust

WASHINGTON - Lawyers for the nine states suing Microsoft targeted company Chairman Bill Gates in closing arguments Wednesday as they tried to persuade a federal judge to approve harsh penalties on the company for antitrust violations.

Mr. Gates and other Microsoft executives used "thuggishlike tactics" against rivals Netscape and Sun, lead lawyer Brendan Sullivan said.

The lawyers urged the judge to approve penalties proposed by the states, which are far more sweeping than those the company agreed to in a settlement with the federal government last year. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is expected to give her decision later this summer.

BlueLight goes out for Kmart online

DETROIT - Kmart Corp. is abandoning the BlueLight.com name for its e-commerce site, a move that analysts say is a welcome signal that the unsuccessful BlueLight marketing campaign might be over.

The Web site's new name is kmart.com. The site has a slightly different look and highlights the bankrupt retailer's new "Stuff of Life" advertising campaign.

Kmart.com features additional products and will include information on store sales and promotions. Company spokesman Dave Karraker said Kmart wants a unified message for consumers, and the updated site will help that effort.

SEC considers ImClone charges

NEW YORK - ImClone Systems Inc. said it received a formal notice that the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering recommending charges against the company for its handling of a rejection notice received by the Food and Drug Administration.

The document, called a Wells Notice, gives the company a chance to explain its actions before the SEC makes its final decision.

On Dec. 28, ImClone learned that the FDA was rejecting the application for its cancer drug Erbitux, touted as a potential blockbuster.