SEC Head Seeks Simpler Rules

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, left, urged a cooperative effort to make accounting rules simpler, blaming recent corporate scandals in part on the complexity of the system.

"We're looking for recommendations on how to make the rules and their application much more clear, straightforward and transparent," Cox told a conference of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the industry's biggest trade group. "From an investor protection standpoint, the need for greater clarity and transparency is obvious."


Service Sector Growth Slows

The nation's service sector grew in November, but at a less-robust pace than in October, the Institute for Supply Management said. The institute's index of non-manufacturing activity dropped to 58.5 in November from 60 the month before. Readings of 50 and above indicate growth, while numbers below that indicate contraction.

The index reading has averaged 60.5 over the past year but fell to 53.3 as recently as September with the spike in oil prices following Hurricane Katrina. The November growth marked the 32nd consecutive monthly expansion in the service sector.


Delta: Full Repayment Unlikely

A Delta Air Lines lawyer told a federal bankruptcy judge that it is "a safe assumption" the carrier will not be able to fully repay creditors the almost $28.3 billion it owes. Judge Prudence Carter Beatty told Delta lawyer Marshall Huebner that the airline hasn't given her a clear indication of what it needs to reorganize. "No matter how I look at the numbers in this case, I can't get to 100 cents on the dollar for creditors," she said. In response, Huebner said, "I think that's a fair assumption, your honor," adding that Delta would provide the information through testimony from company officials and advisers.


NYSE to Suspend Calpine Trading

The New York Stock Exchange said it plans to suspend shares in Calpine from trading and will seek to delist the stock, citing its "abnormally low selling price" and a legal ruling that could push the power producer into bankruptcy protection. The suspension was to begin before the market opens today, the NYSE said. Calpine has the right to a review of the decision.

Two weeks ago, a Delaware court ruled Calpine must repay $313 million in improperly spent proceeds from the sale of its natural gas supplies back into an escrow account. Calpine asked the court to allow it to defer payment because the sum could be "ruinous."

T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday increased to 3.93 percent from 3.9 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 4.185 percent from 4.155 percent. The annualized return to investors is 4.025 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,900.66, and 4.335 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,788.43. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 4.34 percent last week from 4.3 percent the previous week.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.