Stock prices wavered indecisively Thursday, with the Dow Jones average of 30 industrials unchanged from Wednesday.Nation
stalled, reports say
Four economic reports were issued Thursday, and their bleak numbers seemed to add up to an economy that has failed to make much headway toward recovering from the recession.
The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims remained frozen at 421,000 in late August _ a sign that employers, skeptical about whether a recovery has taken hold, are still letting workers go.
The productivity of American workers rose a mediocre 0.5 percent, at an annual rate, in the second quarter _ a much weaker performance than first believed.
Business investment plans were at a five-year low.
The nation's leading retailers reported that the consumer spending slump extended into the back-to-school shopping season, a time when the sales pace usually accelerates.
"In past recoveries, "shot out of a cannon' is a typical phrase for describing the economy. What's happening here is crawling out of a hole," said Allen Sinai, chief economist at the Boston Co.
TRADERS SUSPENDED. Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. said Thursday it had suspended two senior executives in connection with "serious allegations" of trading violations. The investment firm said it and the New York Stock Exchange are investigating allegations of an improper trade apparently made to try to boost the prospects for a November 1990 stock offering by ConAgra Inc. Suspended are Peter DaPuzzo and Manny Geronimos, both widely known on Wall Street and frequently quoted about the stock market in the financial press.
P&G ADMITS MISTAKE. Procter & Gamble Co.'s chairman says the company made an embarrassing mistake when it asked authorities to search telephone records to trace news leaks. "This has been an embarrassing experience for the company and a difficult time for our employees," Edwin L. Artzt wrote in a letter sent to employees Wednesday. "We made an error in judgment." The consumer products giant went to police after the Wall Street Journal printed stories in June about P&G's troubled food and beverage division.
BARNETT OFFERING CLOSED. Barnett Banks Inc. of Jacksonville said Thursday it had completed the sale of $100-million in convertible preferred stock, bringing to $350-million in equity the bank has raised this year. The shares carry a dividend of 8 percent and are convertible into Barnett common stock at $39.50 per share. On Aug. 27, Barnett said it had revived its interest in troubled Southeast Banking Corp. of Miami and might consider buying the banking company with federal assistance. Shares of Barnett common stock closed at $32.75 on Thursday.
COMERICA EXPANDS. Detroit-based Comerica Inc. said Thursday it will buy the $315-million trust department and other loans of MidLantic National Bank and Trust of Florida and merge them into Comerica's Florida operations. With the purchase, Comerica Trust Company of Florida will have approximately $1.5-billion in assets under management in Florida.
TIMES SELECTS SITE. The St. Petersburg Times has signed a letter of intent to lease space in the 1000 North Ashley building near the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa. The letter calls for the Times, which now occupies about 4,440 square feet in Barnett Plaza, to lease about 16,500 square feet in what is known as the old Barnett Bank Building. "We need much more space because we've added staff," said Jane Peppard, publisher of the Times' Tampa edition. The Times plans to consolidate most of its Northwest Hillsborough operation downtown, Peppard said, but the paper will maintain a news bureau in the north Tampa area. If a lease is signed, Peppard said, the Times will move by mid-January.
David Doub is the president of Dillard's Department Stores' Florida division. His name was misspelled Thursday.
The highest yield on a two-year certificate of deposit in the bay area this week is the 7.05 percent at Colony Bank of Pinellas. Another institution was listed in the highest yields chart Thursday.
DOW 30 INDUSTRIALS 3008.50 Unch.
DOLLAR JAPANESE YEN 135.70 +0.20
YIELD 30-YEAR U.S. BOND 8.08 +0.03