Originally created 01/17/04

Business briefs



MARKETS

NOTE TO READERS

Today's edition marks the start of The Augusta Chronicle's expanded foreign currency and commodity listings. You'll notice the addition of nearly four dozen exchange rates and market-traded goods on Page 6D.

BRIEFLY

Company to close 5 Macy's stores

CINCINNATI - Federated Department Stores Inc. plans to close five underperforming Rich's-Macy's and Lazarus-Macy's stores in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania by May.

A total of 369 employees will lose their jobs, the Cincinnati-based department store chain said Friday.

The stores to be closed are Rich's-Macy's in Century Plaza in Birmingham, Ala.; Rich's-Macy's at Cobb Center in Smyrna, Ga.; Lazarus-Macy's stores in Westerville and Oxford, Ohio; and Lazarus-Macy's in downtown Pittsburgh.

The company also reiterated its plans to close the Lazarus-Macy's store in Heath, Ohio, in April.

GE reports rise in year-end profits

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - General Electric Co. reported that its fourth-quarter profits increased 47 percent as industrial orders rose strongly, an insurance loss was reversed and a majority of the businesses achieved double-digit earnings growth.

The Fairfield-based conglomerate said Friday that it earned $4.56 billion, or 45 cents per share, for the October-December period, up from $3.1 billion, or 31 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The 2002 results reflected an after-tax charge of $1.4 billion. The results matched the consensus estimate of analysts.

Adecco puts blame on whistleblowers

GENEVA - Adecco's chief financial officer and the head of its U.S. operations lost their jobs Friday in an accounting scandal that the company, the world's largest employment agency, reveals has been spurred by whistleblowers.

The company's shares tumbled again as Adecco announced the resignation of its chief financial officer, Felix Weber, and the head of its U.S. operations, Julio Arrieta.

Adecco said it was investigating allegations made by "whistleblowers" in the United States, but gave no details.