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Published Oct. 13, 2005

DOW FALLS AS RATES CLIMB. The stock market retreated Wednesday in an atmosphere of uneasiness over rising interest rates. The Dow Jones average of 30 industrial stocks fell 22.58 points to 3,005.37. Analysts said long-term rates are moving up on the belief that a stronger economy will increase demand for credit and possibly add to inflationary pressures. GAS FUTURES DROP. Gasoline futures plunged more than 2 cents a gallon Wednesday to their lowest level since the Persian Gulf war, dragging down the rest of the energy market amid rising supplies and robust production by OPEC.


S&P again lowers

Chrysler debt ratings

In a move reflecting the deteriorating financial condition of Chrysler Corp., Standard & Poor's Corp. further lowered its ratings Wednesday on more than $21-billion worth of Chrysler debt.

Chrysler has been squeezed out of the public debt markets since last year when S&P lowered its ratings on commercial paper to below investment grade. In February, Chrysler's notes and bonds also were lowered to below investment grade.

S&P said it is concerned about "the rapid depletion of Chrysler's cash reserves," which could hinder the No. 3 U.S. automaker's product development plans, seen as critical to its survival.

However, Chrysler called the rating drop, to BB-minus from BB-plus, "surprising" after Chrysler's sales rose from April to May.

Debt rated BB-minus is considered among the least risky of speculative-grade securities.

UNISYS OFFERS SEVERANCE. Unisys Corp., the beleaguered computer maker mired in debt, is asking employees to volunteer to take severance packages and leave the company to reduce its worldwide work force by at least 2,000 employees, a company spokesman said Wednesday. Employees have until Friday to take advantage of the program. After that, the company will decide how many employees it must lay off to reduce its work force to less than 70,000 by year's end. Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, which was formed in 1986 by the merger of Burroughs Corp. and Sperry Corp., operates a plant in Oldsmar.

BELLS' BILL CLEARS SENATE. The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow the regional Bell telephone companies to compete with AT&T in manufacturing telephone equipment. The seven regional companies are prohibited from manufacturing under the Bell System breakup. The bill, which now goes to the House, was approved 71-24 despite threat of a presidential veto because of a provision that would prohibit the companies from manufacturing overseas.

TRUMP GETS DAD'S HELP. New Jersey gaming regulators Wednesday found that Donald Trump's father, Fred, qualifies as a financial source for his son's struggling Trump Castle casino in Atlantic City. In December, the casino appeared unlikely to make an $18.4-million interest payment, but Fred Trump, 85, bought $3.5-million in Trump Castle chips, which he never redeemed. The cash helped Donald Trump make the payment. Another payment is due June 15.

Tampa Bay/State

CONVENTION MARKETER HIRED. The Tampa/Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association said Wednesday it has hired James T. Wood as director of convention marketing. Wood, a former executive of Marriott Corp., replaces LaMar Williams, who resigned under pressure last month. "I feel we will be able to effectively sell the Tampa Convention Center and Tampa to a wide variety of conventions and trade shows throughout the industry," Wood said in a statement.


Burge Investments Inc., doing business as Burgee's Grille & Boat Bar in St. Petersburg Beach, has not filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws. The bankruptcy listings Monday included a company using a similar name.