Consumer confidence jumped higher than anticipated in June, buoyed by an improved job outlook, the New York-based Conference Board reported. The consumer confidence index increased nearly 9 points, to 101.9, up from the revised 93.1 in May. The employment outlook remained upbeat, and the proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes rose to 19.3 percent, up from 17.1 percent last month.
AT&T Fined Over Improper Billing
AT&T will pay $400,000 in fines and issue refunds to as many as 311,000 New Yorkers to settle claims that the company billed customers who didn't order service. AT&T was fined for charging a $7.72 monthly long-distance fee to clients who hadn't signed up, state Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer said on his Web site. An AT&T spokesman called the problem a billing error and said the company isn't switching people without authorization.
Jurors deliberating at the fraud trial of Adelphia Communications founder John J. Rigas and two of his sons asked to see two dozen exhibits related to allegations that the family looted and bankrupted the company. The jury failed for a second day to reach a verdict on charges that the Rigases hid $2.3 billion in debt, stole hundreds of millions of dollars, and lied about revenue and operations at Adelphia, the No. 5 cable television operator.
The Department of Homeland Security found that 12 people who work in flight crews with three overseas airlines have links to terrorists, an official said. The people will be banned from entering the country. The employees were found when the department compared airline crew lists with terrorist databases. The agency is reviewing 29 people on truck-driver lists because their names are similar to individuals linked to terrorism.
UBS, Merrill Lynch and six other firms were ordered to pay $610,000 in fines and restitution after regulators found that investors received below-market prices for their municipal bonds. NASD said the firms purchased bonds from customers that were later resold by other dealers at "markedly higher prices," in violation of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board rules.
Halliburton will take a $200 million charge in the second quarter on a troublesome project off the coast of Brazil, pushing after-tax charges on the $2.5 billion project to about $500 million since it began in 2000. The project involves converting two supertankers into production, storage and offloading vessels for deep-water oil fields.
Chicago Sun-Times circulation director Stephen Hastings resigned, two weeks after the newspaper said its circulation figures had been inflated for years. Hollinger International, which owns the Sun-Times, also placed Mark Hornung, the president and publisher of its suburban paper, the Daily Southtown, on administrative leave, a spokesman said. Hornung was Hastings's predecessor at the Sun-Times.
Microsoft will give Massachusetts consumers $34 million in software vouchers to settle a lawsuit in which they claim they were overcharged. A judge's approval of the settlement comes on the heels of the company's agreement to pay $104.6 million to Arizona consumers to settle a similar suit.
Regal Entertainment Group can pay its extraordinary dividend of $710 million to billionaire Philip F. Anschutz and other shareholders. A Delaware court dismissed a suit by the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana that had sought to block it, saying it would jeopardize the movie theater chain's future.
Former Tenet Healthcare chief executive Jeffrey C. Barbakow sued Citigroup Global Markets, one of WorldCom's investment bankers, alleging that he was tricked into holding stock in the telecom giant too long and lost tens of millions of dollars. The complaint says Barbakow and his wife, Margo, would have sold their shares in WorldCom long before the company went bankrupt in 2002, but they were misled to believe the company was thriving.
Chi-Chi's was authorized to pay more than $2 million in settlements to people who suffered from a record outbreak of hepatitis A traced to contaminated green onions at one of its restaurants, according to bankruptcy court papers. The order authorizes the restaurant chain to pay 60 claims totaling $2.18 million. Chi-Chi's said that of the 60 hepatitis A claims it has settled, five are for more than $35,000.
Cisco Systems agreed to pay $82 million to buy privately owned Actona Technologies. Actona makes file-services software to help manage data for corporate offices in different locations, Cisco said in a statement.
Echo power tools are being recalled because the fuel lines could leak. The recalled products -- including hedge clippers, power pruners and power edgers -- were sold at Home Depot, hardware stores, home centers and power equipment dealers nationwide for $149 to $300, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Consumers can contact an Echo dealer for a free repair.
Nortel Networks is selling manufacturing operations that employ 2,500 people, which could raise about $500 million and create long-term savings for the company as it deals with accounting investigations in the United States and Canada. The telecommunications equipment maker said it is turning over factories in Canada, Brazil, Northern Ireland and France to contract manufacturer Flextronics International. The sale will leave Nortel with 32,500 employees, down from 95,500 in 2000.
Workers of GM Daewoo, South Korea's third-largest automaker, have agreed to stop work for an unspecified time, joining an industry-wide strike to demand higher wages and better benefits. About 65 percent of the workers at GM Daewoo, set up by General Motors and its partners, have voted in favor of joining the strike, the carmaker's workers union said on its Web site. Work stoppages have so far lost an estimated $181 million in sales at Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Ssangyong Motor.
Amazon.com is laying off an undisclosed number of employees at its offices in France amid ongoing efforts to cut costs. A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based Internet retailer, Patty Smith, said the company is working with a labor group to determine how many workers will lose their jobs and how many will move to other Amazon.com locations.
House Democrats said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being maligned by the Bush administration in an effort to tighten regulation of the two largest mortgage finance companies. In a letter to President Bush, 76 representatives said the White House "has turned to attacking" the companies in public statements in an attempt to "foster negative opinions in the financial markets" and raise their cost of borrowing. In reply, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said the administration wants to "push" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "to do what is expected of them -- helping low- and moderate-income families" afford homes as well as rival companies that lack a federal charter. A HUD agency regulates the companies.
American Greetings said earnings fell 78 percent in its first quarter, to $4.2 million, because of the cost of buying back debt. Sales fell to $445.7 million from $454.3 million.
Research in Motion swung to a first-quarter profit of $55 million as more people bought its BlackBerry handheld devices and BlackBerry-enabled cell phones. It lost $8.2 million in the same period last year. The Ontario-based company's sales more than doubled from the corresponding period a year ago, reaching $269.6 million.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.