Saturday, December 13, 2003

Business digest

From wire reports

Natural gas cost up 46% since November

WASHINGTON - A 46 percent surge in the price of natural gas since Thanksgiving has been so startling, one analyst has suggested the futures markets should be investigated.

Natural gas for January delivery jumped 60.6 cents, or 9 percent, Friday to $7.221 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

It was the highest close since Feb. 28, when prices settled at $8.10, and was $2.30 above the Nov. 26 close.

As a result, consumers could see higher energy bills as early as next month, analysts said.

Bertelsmann, Sony OK merging music units

FRANKFURT, Germany - Bertelsmann AG and Sony Corp. have finished a merger agreement that will bring some of the world's top pop artists under one roof as music companies shore up their strength in the face of rampant file-swapping on the Internet.

The newly created Sony BMG will be equally owned by Sony and Bertelsmann, the two companies said Friday. It will be the world's second-largest music company behind Universal Music Group, a part of Vivendi Universal SA.

Steel firm's shares jump in trading debut

CLEVELAND - Shares of International Steel Group Inc., formed from bankrupt steel makers over about the past two years, surged nearly 26 percent in their market debut Friday.

ISG, the nation's second-largest steel maker behind U.S. Steel Corp., sold 16.5 million shares for the initial public offering late Thursday at $28 per share. That was well above the $22 to $24 a share range the company said it expected.

ISG raised $462 million that it planned to use to pay down debt.

The shares began trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "ISG." They closed at $35.20, up $7.20 from the offer price, on volume of about 14.9 million shares.

Variety, quality of airport food soars
Credit cards tune in to radio waves
Wholesale prices dip by 0.3%
Taser stock on the rise
Kroger employees eager to get back on the job
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