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Microsoft, E.U. Reach Accord

Richard M. Scrushy's lawyer hammered at the testimony of the fifth former finance chief to take the stand against the fired HealthSouth chief executive. Defense attorney James W. Parkman III challenged Weston L. Smith on topics including meeting dates and whether he really cried during earlier testimony.

RECALL

About 727,000 candles are being recalled because the gel in them can produce dangerous flames, the government said. Nature's Finest Candles of Marble Falls, Tex., has received four reports of the gel generating high flames, burning the hands of at least two consumers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The Nature's Finest Gel Candles are sold in various colors and scents and come in 5.5-ounce and 11-ounce glass containers. The recall covers UPC codes 3863300100 through 3863300114 and 3863300200 through 3863300214, located on a sticker on the bottom. Consumers are urged to stop using the candles and contact Nature's Finest for a refund by visiting www.naturesfinestcandles.com or calling 800-964-6804.


A Japanese commission ruled that relaxing domestic cattle testing standards for mad cow disease won't put consumers at risk, raising the possibility that Tokyo will reopen its market to U.S. beef imports. Testing will exclude low-risk cattle younger than 21 months. (Katsumi Kasahara -- AP)

INTERNATIONAL

Brazil will not renew an expiring $15.5 billion loan accord with the International Monetary Fund as the country's economy expands and foreign reserves rise. The move ends almost seven years of IMF loan agreements with Brazil, which first signed an accord in 1998 in a bid to shore up its currency and bonds in the aftermath of Russia's debt default.

Japanese household spending fell 4.1 percent in February, and unemployment rose, suggesting the world's second-largest economy may not be able to rely on consumers to drive a recovery from recession. Employers are holding back wage increases as rising costs of oil, steel and other raw materials threaten profit.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Rowe plans to restate certain financial reports to correct accounting errors related to lease agreements. The McLean-based furniture maker and retailer said that, based on a preliminary analysis, it expects profit to be reduced by $142,000 in 2004, $332,000 in 2003 and $61,000 in 2002 as a result.

Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman partners voted to approve their previously announced merger, creating one of the nation's largest law firms with 900 lawyers and more than $600 million in revenue. Pillsbury Chairwoman Mary B. Cranston will lead the company.

Barneys, a luxury retailer, will lease about 11,400 square feet at the Collection at Chevy Chase Center. The store will be part of a 112,000-square-foot strip of one- and two-story storefronts at the 5400 block of Wisconsin Avenue. Other retailers in the complex include Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Louis Vuitton, MaxMara and Ralph Lauren. The Barneys store will open in the fall.

EARNINGS

Walgreen reported a 13.7 percent increase in its fiscal second-quarter profit, to a record $490.4 million, on strong pharmacy sales. Earnings for the six months ended Feb. 28 climbed 20 percent, to $819.5 million. Revenue grew 12.3 percent, to a record $10.99 billion in the quarter, and 12.8 percent, to $20.88 billion, in the first half.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.


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