Originally created 05/16/03

Business briefs



Morris purchases hospitality group

Morris Communications Co., the parent company of The Augusta Chronicle, has purchased the Hospitality Industry Association, a member services organization based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The purchase was announced Thursday by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William S. Morris III.

The association, founded in 1983, provides benefits to its 20,000 members primarily by means of discounts on dining, lodging and transportation at designated locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Orlando areas of Florida. Membership is open to individuals and businesses serving the traveling public, including airports, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, restaurants, tourist attractions and related businesses.

Georgia reports rise in new jobless claims

ATLANTA - The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that initial unemployment insurance claims rose almost 15 percent from March to April.

A total of 49,658 laid-off workers filed a first-time claim for unemployment insurance benefits in April, compared to 47,871 in March. Initial claims measure newly laid-off workers.

30-year mortgages reach record low

WASHINGTON - Rates on 30-year mortgages dropped to a record low this week, the sixth time that has happened this year.

The average national interest rate on a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage fell to 5.45 percent, down from 5.62 percent the week before, mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Target's profits rise but still miss mark

MINNEAPOLIS - Target Corp. reported a 1.3 percent increase in first-quarter profit as the addition of new stores and growth in its credit-card operation offset slower retail activity.

Target earned $349 million, or 38 cents per share, for the three months ended May 3 compared with $345 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The profit fell short of analysts' projections.

Online sales outshone all others in 2002

NEW YORK - Online merchants collectively broke even last year as sales surged 48 percent, providing a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster retail environment, according to a survey released Thursday.

Online sales soared to $76 billion, according to a survey of more than 130 retailers conducted by Shop.org, an arm of the National Retail Federation, and Forrester Research, an Internet research company.

British official to decide on euro

LONDON - Britain's treasury chief said Thursday he will decide next month whether to recommend that Britons give up their beloved pounds and pence for the new European currency.

Public opposition to joining the euro is strong, and many believe Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has already concluded that the time is not yet right to call a national referendum on the issue.