Thursday, May 02, 2002

Business Digest

O'Neill sees growth ahead

        Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. economy, rocked last year by a recession and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “has regained its economic footing.”

        Mr. O'Neill predicted that the U.S. rebound would help lead the global economy to stronger growth by the second half of this year. Mr. O'Neill delivered his optimistic assessment of U.S. growth prospects to the Senate Banking Committee.

Vehicle sales up

        Led by a surge in truck sales, General Motors Corp. on Wednesday reported U.S. vehicle sales rose 12.6 percent in April compared with the same month a year ago.

        Sales edged up a more modest 3 percent at the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG in April, while Ford Motor Co.'s sales slumped 7.8 percent, the automakers said Wednesday.

        Collectively, sales for GM, Ford and Chrysler rose 3.1 percent in April from a year earlier, and their sales to date are down 5.3 percent versus the first four months of 2001.

GM ends finance offer

        General Motors Corp. is ending the no-interest financing offer that the nation's biggest automaker used to boost sales of new cars and trucks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

        In its place, GM said Tuesday it is launching an incentive program it has dubbed “1-2-3.” It offers $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 in cash discounts to buyers and financing rates of 1.9 percent, 2.9 percent or 3.9 percent on loans of 36, 48 or 60 months, respectively.

HP, Compaq embrace

        Now that it finally appears nothing will stop their $18 billion marriage, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. hope to begin life together next Tuesday.

        That means launching some complex and difficult tasks, such as hacking 15,000 jobs out of a 150,000-person work force over the next two years, and telling customers which product lines will survive and which will be phased out.

        The deal surged toward completion Tuesday when a Delaware judge cleared HP of Walter Hewlett's allegations that its top executives misled shareholders about the merger planning and browbeat a big investor into supporting the deal. Mr. Hewlett said he would not appeal and would stop challenging the individual ballots from the shareholder vote that HP won 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.

Sun president resigns

        In the latest high-profile retirement at Sun Microsystems Inc., president and chief operating officer Ed Zander said Wednesday he is stepping down after more than 15 years at the company.

        Mr. Zander, 55, will be replaced by the company's chief executive, Scott McNealy, on July 1.

Schwab raises costs

        Trading stocks is about to get more expensive for some of Charles Schwab Corp.'s brokerage customers.

        The San Francisco company, which operates one of the largest discount and online brokerage firms in the U.S., will soon raise its commissions for executing stock trades with the help of a stockbroker or over the telephone.

        The moves, which are effective on June 1, are being made to make sure that Schwab's fees are “better aligned by the channel that a client decides to use,” a spokeswoman for Schwab said.


Erpenbeck Co. faces additional lawsuits
Peoples Bank 'very strong,' new leader says
Cinergy on high; merger talks fly
State regulating mortgage brokers
LCA-Vision posts profit for 1st quarter
Slower recovery suggested
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