new warning on rates
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan put millions of borrowers on notice Thursday to get ready for an increase in interest rates. Many analysts expect the move to come Tuesday. Financial markets, already headed lower because of interest rate fears, were jolted anew by Greenspan's comments.
MORTGAGE RATES RISE: Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 7.94 percent this week, the highest level in nearly six months, according to a national survey, up from 7.84 percent a week earlier. On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.71 percent, up from 5.61 percent last week. Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 7.45 percent this week, up from 7.34 percent a week earlier. The rates do not include add-on fees known as points.
SEARCH WIDENS: Federal investigators widened their search of medical offices around El Paso, Texas, on Thursday, seizing documents from doctors affiliated with the local hospitals that are operated by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the New York Times reported. The government has not disclosed the nature of the investigation.
ELSEWHERE: First Bank System Inc. plans to buy U.S. Bancorp for $9-billion in a deal that will create the nation's 14th-largest bank with branches in 17 Midwestern and Western states . . . Negotiators for American Airlines and its pilots were reported to be making progress Thursday on the final points of a contract agreement that is to be presented to the union's board today . . . Mattel said Thursday the Federal Trade Commission approved its $755-million acquisition of Tyco . . . America's trade deficit soared to $12.7-billion in January, the Commerce Department reported . . . AmSouth Bancorporation said its board declared a 3-for-2 stock split and authorized the bank to buy back as many as 6-million common shares on a post-split basis, according to Bloomberg News . . . Attorneys for policyholders who won a possible $2-billion fraud settlement against Prudential Insurance Co. of America were awarded legal fees of at least $45-million, and possibly up to $90-million, by a federal judge in New Jersey . . . Bergen Brunswig Corp. said Thursday it has terminated its previously announced $1.65-billion merger with IVAX Corp. of Miami and will sue the generic drug giant.
MALL WORK BEGINS: Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Thursday for the Citrus Park Town Center mall in northwest Hillsborough County. Executives of the Chicago-based developer also said that a 450,000-square-foot shopping plaza across from the mall will open in time for the 1998 holidays. The mall is scheduled to open in March 1999.
OUTBACK REPORTS SLUGGISH SALES: Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse said it expects first-quarter sales to miss analysts' estimates by 10 to 12 percent. Analysts had expected Outback to report earnings of 40 to 41 cents per share. Sales at restaurants open at least one year were down 3.2 percent in February and between 3 to 4 percent in March after being up 3.1 percent in January. Outback executives blamed its poor sales on a drop in spending per customer and fewer vacationers at its Florida locations.
GRANDY'S CLOSES STORES: Grandy's Inc., a quick-service restaurant chain, closed four stores in Tampa Bay this week, said Barb Jones, a restaurant manager. One Grandy's location in St. Petersburg and two in Clearwater were shut down Tuesday. A fourth on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa was also closed. Officials at Grandy's corporate office in Lewisville, Texas, declined to elaborate.
The phone number for the Florida Bank of Commerce is 587-0944. For Southern Exchange Bank, the numbers are 367-4800 (St. Petersburg) and 254-4040 (Tampa). Because of incorrect information from National Financial News Service, wrong numbers appeared in the Highest Yields chart Wednesday.
DOW DOLLAR YIELD
30 INDUSTRIALS VS. JAPAN'S YEN 30-YR. U.S. BOND
6820.28 123.75 6.95
-57.40 +0.93 -0.03