DOW 30 INDUSTRIALS 2649.55 +25.23 DOLLAR JAPANESE YEN 144.775 +0.425 BONDS 30-YEAR U.S. 8.45% +0.05 STOCK MARGET SURGES. The stock market came out of the doldrums Thursday to close higher in brisk trading. The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials rose 25.23 points to close at 2,649.55. Advancing issues issues outnumbered declines by about 11-to-7 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks. READER'S DIGEST A HIT. Investors eagerly bought up shares of Reader's Digest Association Inc. on Thursday in the company's first public offering. The stock was the most active issue on the New York Stock Exchange, with more than 7.6-million shares bought. The stock closed at $22, compared with the offering price of $20 a share.
HOUSING STARTS SOAR. Housing starts jumped a record 29.6 percent last month as builders took advantage of the warmest January ever, the Commerce Department said Thursday, but analysts said the industry could not sustain the pace. New houses and apartments were built at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.63-million units last month after slumping 6.9 percent in December. The January increase was the highest since housing starts first were recorded in 1959.
CAMPEAU STORE SALES SLIDE. Sales for Federated Department Stores Inc. and Allied Stores Corp.'s 260 stores were up 3 percent in December from the previous year, but declined 9 percent in January and 4 percent so far in February, said James M. Zimmerman, the retailers' president and chief operating officer. The two subsidiaries of Toronto-based Campeau Corp. filed for Chapter 11 on Jan. 15.
PINK SLIPS AT DREXEL. Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. said Thursday it would lay off "several thousand" of its 5,300 workers today. Drexel employees have been scrambling to find jobs since the firm's parent filed for bankruptcy court protection on Tuesday. Among the first victims will be employees of Drexel's junk bond division, which was largely responsible for the firm's billion-dollar profits and its involvement in securities scandals.
SUCCESSOR DESIGNATED. Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s 91-year-old chief, Armand Hammer, will be replaced as chairman by company president Ray R. Irani, 55, if Hammer retires or dies, Occidental announced Thursday. The Los Angeles-based petrochemical giant said, however, that the imperious Hammer has no immediate plans to step aside. The announcement said Hammer is in "very good health" following heart surgery in November and the death of his wife, Frances, in December.
He plans to continue indefinitely as chairman and chief executive, it said.
CHANNEL ONE GAINS. Whittle Communications has signed up 2,510 schools and has sold $200-million in advertising for its commercially sponsored Channel One news program for the classroom, debuting March 5, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company said Thursday.
BEST CITIES FOR MOMS. Quality child care, good public schools and abundant job prospects are among the attractions that put Minneapolis-St. Paul at the head of Working Mother's top-10 list of U.S. metropolitan areas. The magazine published the rankings in its March issue, distributed Thursday. Orlando ranked fifth.
BAILOUT FINANCING. The Bush administration got the go-ahead Thursday to finance its savings and loan bailout by borrowing through the Treasury, a method that could balloon the budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars. The Justice Department ruled that the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC), the agency created to dispose of failed thrifts, may borrow from the Federal Financing Bank, a conduit for funneling Treasury money to government agencies. The RTC may borrow as much as $44-billion by the end of the year.
TOMATO CROP SQUEEZED. Florida's freeze-ravaged tomato crop has caused prices to rise to near-record levels. Since the Dec. 24-25 freeze, quality and quantity of tomatoes have plummeted while prices have soared to $2.99 a pound. Wayne Hawkins, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee in Orlando, said the 1989 freeze destroyed 12,000 acres of tomatoes and will cost state farmers more than $60-million.
OUT OF THE RED. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida's health maintenance organization group, based in Jacksonville, reported 1989 net income of $1.3-million compared with a loss of $30.6-million in 1988. Revenue was $254.6-million, up 9 percent from $233-million a year earlier. Fourth-quarter net income was $900,000 compared with a loss of $8.3-million in the year-ago period. Revenue in the quarter was $66.3-million, a 9 percent gain over 1988 fourth quarter revenue of $60.6-million. Blue Cross and Blue Shield's HMO group has 208,800 members in 29 Florida counties.
POE BUYS TWO AGENCIES. Poe & Associates Inc. of Tampa said Thursday it has acquired the assets of two Houston insurance agencies, Bynum, Beck & Drew and Beck/Wm Schwartz Benefits Inc. Terms were not disclosed. Poe will consolidate the companies with its existing Houston operation, and the units will be managed by the president of the acquired agencies. Poe, a general insurance agency, has offices in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas.
The Stanhope, a luxury hotel in New York, is owned by Tobishima Associates Ltd. Because of incorrect information provided by the Florida Comptroller's Office, the owner was misidentified in an article appearing Jan. 22.