Durable-goods orders fell in September for the first time in five months as Boeing received fewer orders for its most expensive airliners and Hurricane Floyd caused some factories to close. The Commerce Department said orders decreased 1.3 percent, to $204.9 billion. But some analysts said the decline signaled a pause rather than a slowdown in the manufacturing sector's rebound.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tamiflu, the second new flu drug to hit the market this year. Tamiflu, made by Swiss-based Roche Laboratories and Gilead Sciences of the United States, was approved to fight both Type A and Type B influenza, the FDA said. But the agency noted that most patients studied had Type A, the most common type of flu in the United States. In July, the FDA approved another flu drug, Relenza, made by British drug company Glaxo Wellcome.
The Nasdaq Stock Market plans to introduce a new service on its Web site that will allow investors to link to their online broker and enter their own stock trades, said Frank Zarb, chairman of Nasdaq's parent, the National Association of Securities Dealers. The new feature, to be called Mybroker, will offer trading through affiliated broker-dealers who will be responsible for monitoring the suitability of the investors' trades, Zarb said.
Two-year Treasury note yields rose in auction to the highest level in more than two years. The yield was 5.935 percent, up from 5.665 percent at the last auction, on Sept. 29. The notes will carry a coupon interest rate of 5 7/8 percent, with each $10,000 in face value selling for $9,988.80.
Rite Aid, the nation's No. 3 drugstore chain, has restructured its $2.7 billion in bank debt, giving it an extra year to pay off $1.3 billion tied to the purchase of PCS Health Systems. It sold $300 million in convertible preferred stock to an affiliate of Leonard Green & Partners to make the extension of credit possible.
Microsoft said Windows 2000, the long-awaited update of its Windows NT network operating system, won't ship before Feb. 17. No price has been set.
Ford hopes to reach a billion viewers Monday evening in a rare global advertising gamble aimed at raising its corporate profile. The world's second-biggest automaker has cobbled together a collection of television networks that will carry an unusually long two-minute commercial at about 9 p.m. local time in most markets around the world.
Abby Joseph Cohen, chief investment strategist for Goldman Sachs, told the Detroit Economic Club she is sticking with her forecast of 1385 for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index between now and the end of 1999. "At this time last year we were saying that 1999 corporate profits were going to rise 8 percent. It looks like it's going to more like a plus 14 percent," she said. Cohen reiterated her year-end 2000 target of 1450. The S&P 500 closed yesterday at 1296.71.
INTERNATIONALCanadian Airlines, whose financial ills sparked Canada's airline takeover war, posted a 24 percent drop in quarterly profit and warned its cash was dwindling to a critically low level. Calgary-based Canadian, the country's No. 2 airline, reported third-quarter earnings of $71.3 million (Canadian), down from $93.6 million in 1998.
EARNINGSBethlehem Steel posted a third-quarter loss of $90 million, compared with a profit of $37 million a year earlier. The steelmaker blamed the weakening on competition from steel imports and the costs of modernization.
Conoco said its third-quarter profit from operations rose 39 percent, to $261 million, on gains in its exploration and production business. Conoco, the fifth-largest U.S. oil company, was split off from DuPont last year.
Conseco, a life insurer and consumer lender, said third-quarter earnings fell 19 percent after it abandoned an accounting method that investors said inflated profits. Conseco said profit excluding gains and losses on investments fell to $241.5 million, from $297.8 million a year earlier. Conseco switched from an accounting method that let its consumer lending unit immediately book expected profit from bundling loans and selling them as securities.
CVS's third-quarter profit rose 19 percent, to $121.6 million, from $102.4 million a year earlier, on higher pharmacy sales. But some analysts expected more, and the second-biggest U.S. drugstore chain's shares fell 10 percent, to $39, in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Qwest Communications International, the long-distance company that is buying Baby Bell US West, posted a third-quarter profit of $19.8 million as revenue from data and Internet services more than tripled. The profit, which excludes one-time merger-related costs, compared with a pro forma loss of $11.4 million a year earlier. The year-ago results were stated to include the results of several businesses acquired since then.
Sara Lee said net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2000, which included a one-time $137 million gain from the sale of the company's international tobacco business, came to $258 million, down 24 percent from a year ago.
SBC Communications, the largest U.S. local telephone company, said third-quarter earnings dropped to $1.14 million from $1.93 billion. Excluding charges and gains in the periods, profit from operations rose 17 percent, to $1.97 billion. Results are stated as if SBC's $80.6 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Ameritech earlier this month had taken place before the start of each period.
Sony said its profit rose 3.1 percent in its fiscal second quarter but plunged 24.5 percent in the first half, depressed by the strong yen. The world's second-largest maker of consumer electronics reported a profit of $445 million in the three months ended Sept. 30. For the first half, it earned $622 million.
Wrigley, the Chicago-based maker of chewing gum, said third-quarter net income rose 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago, to $77.6 million, reflecting improved international sales.
LOCAL BUSINESSHuman Genome Sciences of Rockville said it would call a special meeting of shareholders to seek approval to issue more shares. The meeting, tentatively set for Dec. 16, is a prelude to a possible stock split, although the company said it has "no specific plans for any such action at this time." HGS, though it has no drugs on the market, has a broad portfolio of gene-based research and is one of the biotechnology stocks followed most avidly on Wall Street. The stock is up 166 percent in the past year and some analysts regard it as ripe for a split.
CAPTION: Abby Joseph Cohen says the S&P 500 will hit 1385 by year-end.