A World Trade Organization appeals panel upheld a ruling that a U.S. law requiring distribution of anti-dumping duties collected from foreign competitors to American companies violates global trade rules. The U.S. has distributed about $470 million in anti-dumping duties in the past two years to companies including U.S. Steel and Hershey Foods under what is known as the Byrd Amendment. The panel, however, rejected an earlier ruling that the United States had failed to act in good faith with respect to the WTO. The United States said it was "disappointed" with the decision but welcomed the findings on Washington's commitment to WTO obligations.
Senate Approves Full Amtrak Request
The Senate, setting up another showdown over Amtrak funding, voted to provide the national passenger railroad with the $1.2 billion it says it needs to operate this fiscal year after railroad officials warned of a possible shutdown of service this spring. By voice vote, the Senate adopted an amendment to a domestic spending bill that boosts funding from the $762 million preferred by the House. The amount may be changed in negotiations between the House and Senate. President Bush had requested $521 million. Administration officials, who have said they want to see states assume financial responsibility for much of Amtrak's operations, have not indicated whether Bush would sign a spending bill with additional Amtrak funds.
Puerto Rico's largest bank, Banco Popular, will pay $21.6 million but avoid criminal prosecution for allegedly allowing millions of dollars in drug money to be laundered by failing to report suspicious activity to the government. Under its agreement with the U.S. government, the bank admitted to violations of federal money-laundering rules but has a year to pay the money and show that it is complying with the rules.
Consumer inflation rose by just 0.1 percent in December as the lackluster economy had the effect of holding prices in line, creating a healthier climate for shoppers. It marked the second straight month that the consumer price index, the government's most closely watched inflation gauge, crept up by 0.1 percent, the Labor Department said. Separately, the department said new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to 360,000, the lowest level since late November, from a revised 392,000 the previous week. It was the fourth decrease in the past five weeks.
General Electric is jettisoning its "We Bring Good Things to Life" slogan after 30 years for a $100 million campaign that emphasizes the innovative spirit that Thomas Edison started at GE more than a century ago. The "Imagination at Work" ads, set to debut this week, have a humorous touch. In one, the Wright Brothers' rickety plane, strapped with a GE aircraft engine, roars and morphs into a jet.
Adelphia Communications' indicted founder agreed to give up 34 apartments, condominiums and vacation homes that were bought with company money. Negotiations are also underway on at least 60 other properties held by John Rigas's family, attorneys for Adelphia and the family said. Rigas was indicted in September on charges that he defrauded Adelphia of millions of dollars. He has denied wrongdoing.
Federated Department Stores, which has 460 stores in 34 states, plans to close 11 stores and cut nearly 2,000 jobs this year. Seven of those are Macy's stores in the Atlanta area.
McDonald's plans to close an unspecified number of restaurants, mostly in the United States and Japan, to help revive profit, new CEO James R. Cantalupo said. The number won't be "in the thousands," executives said on a conference call with investors. They declined to be more specific. Cantalupo also said McDonald's will keep its $1 menu, possibly removing some items.
Daniel P. Burnham, chairman and chief executive of Raytheon, a defense contractor whose accounting practices are under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission, told a meeting of more than 150 corporate executives this week that the way to restore investor confidence is for companies to uphold the principles of accountability, oversight, transparency and diligence. Raytheon spokesman James Fetig said: "There's certainly a question whether or not we have an issue with the SEC. If we need to correct a practice, we'll do that. That doesn't change the need to practice good corporate governance and to advocate for good corporate governance within our own organization and externally."
The German economy grew last year at the slowest pace since the 1993 recession as companies reduced investment and rising unemployment discouraged consumers from spending. The economy expanded 0.2 percent in 2002, the Federal Statistics Office said.
The European Commission extended its antitrust probe into a contract between De Beers and RAO Alrosa, threatening the world's biggest diamond company's grip on the second-largest source of gems. Alrosa, which mines one in four diamonds, is seeking approval for a December 2001 contract to sell $800 million of diamonds a year to De Beers. Halting guaranteed access to Alrosa's gems would further loosen the control -- 60 percent of the market -- that De Beers has had for 73 years on the supply and prices of uncut diamonds.
The Palestinian economy almost halved last year, its third year of decline, as Israeli restrictions on the movement of goods and people lowered production and trade, a Jordanian investment bank said. The value of economic activity declined to $8.5 billion from $14.2 billion in 2001, Henry Azzam, chief executive of the Jordan Investment Group, said in a report.
Abbott Laboratories reported a 2 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, to $627.1 million, citing a 14 percent rise in its U.S. pharmaceutical sales, which offset significant restructuring costs. Revenue rose 9 percent, to $4.84 billion.
Bank One's fourth-quarter profit jumped 56 percent, to $842 million, as continued improvement in its retail banking business more than offset lower credit card earnings.
Delta Air Lines' fourth-quarter loss narrowed by more than half as costs fell and December holiday travel boosted sales. The third-largest U.S. airline reported a net loss of $363 million, compared with $734 million in the year-earlier period. Sales rose to $3.3 billion from $2.86 billion.
EBay said fourth-quarter profit more than tripled to $87 million, compared with $25.9 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue surged 89 percent, to $413.9 million.
IBM said its fourth-quarter profit fell 56 percent, to $1.02 billion, but the computer giant still managed to beat expectations thanks to huge service contracts. Factoring out discontinued operations, such as the money-losing disk drive unit it sold to Hitachi, IBM reported earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates. Revenue for the quarter jumped 7 percent, to $23.68 billion.
Sears, Roebuck said fourth-quarter profit jumped 72 percent from a year ago, to $848 million, as purchases of Lands' End merchandise boosted sales and the department-store chain had a gain from the sale of assets. Revenue rose 2.4 percent, to $12.5 billion.
Sun Microsystems lost $2.28 billion on sales of $2.92 billion for the three months ended Dec. 29, , after a $2.13 billion expense related to the impairment of goodwill and other intangible assets. The company lost $431 million on sales of $3.1 billion in the year-earlier period. Excluding the charge and restructuring write-downs, the company would have earned $10 million, compared to a loss of $99 million on the same basis a year
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers