BOEING TO SELL JETS TO CHINA: President Clinton confirmed Wednesday that the Boeing Co. will sign a contract for the sale of 50 jets to China for $3-billion, the largest sale of airplanes to China in history. Boeing officials said they could not immediately release any details. Phil Condit, chairman and chief executive officer of the Seattle company, is scheduled to attend a signing ceremony today with Commerce Secretary Willam Daley and senior Chinese officials at the Commerce Department.
BELLSOUTH RAISES PAY PHONE CHARGE: BellSouth Corp. said Wednesday that it will increase the price of a local call made from one of its pay phones to 35 cents beginning Saturday. The company said the unlimited 35-cent price replaces the 25-cent rate for a three-minute call. Beginning the same day, BellSouth will charge 50 cents for directory assistance calls made at its pay phones in all Southeastern states except Florida, which will see the 50 cent charge beginning Jan. 1. BellSouth of Atlanta is the largest pay phone company in the state, with about 40,000 phones. Its territory includes most of eastern and southern Florida, as well as most of Hernando County.
AOL GOES OFFLINE: A hardware problem at the country's largest online service, America Online, prevented members from accessing AOL for about 90 minutes Wednesday. E-mail service was also disrupted for several hours. Wendy Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Dulles, Va., company, said a system glitch kept users from logging on to AOL's network between 2:30 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. The problem also jammed e-mail service for several hours in the afternoon. Users already logged on were not otherwise affected. The news areas _ where AOL has been promoting its news on the stock market turbulence _ and chat rooms were working.
DU PONT NAMES CEO: Du Pont Co. said Charles "Chad" Holliday, a 27-year company veteran, will succeed John A. Krol as chief executive of the nation's largest chemical company on Feb. 1. Krol, 61, who was also president, became chairman Wednesday, as Edgar Woolard, 63, retired. Holliday, 49, a Du Pont executive vice president who heads Du Pont's Asia-Pacific business, was named president.
GERBER LAUNCHES ORGANIC BABY FOOD: Gerber Products Co. is toddling into the lucrative area of organic baby food, where it will compete with Heinz USA's Earth's Best. With its Tender Harvest line, Gerber must sell an upscale organic product without implying that its regular brand is riddled with chemicals and therefore less healthful. The company will also have to cope with stepped-up competition for the limited supply of organically grown fruits and vegetables; its inability to secure enough delayed the official national roll-out of the line. Tender Harvest's initial 10 offerings, slated to expand to 20 items by year-end, sell for 59 cents to 63 cents per 4-ounce jar, as compared with 31 to 39 cents for the mainstream brand.
SILICON GRAPHICS TO CUT JOBS: Silicon Graphics Inc. said Wednesday that it will cut 700 to 1,000 jobs as it reorganizes and that chairman and chief executive officer Ed McCracken will step down as CEO. SGI, best known for its workstations used to create special effects for movies, expects to take a charge of about $50-million in the current quarter, most of which will go toward the restructuring. The reorganization is the second this year for Silicon Graphics, which has been hurt by rivals' cheaper machines and a series of missteps.
SMART & FINAL MAY GO: Smart & Final Inc. may close its two bulk grocery stores in Clearwater and St. Petersburg; they remain unprofitable after their first year of operation. Los Angeles-based Smart & Final said closing the two, plus others in Daytona Beach and Fort Myers, would trigger a 25 to 30 cents a share restructuring charge in the fourth quarter. The company blamed problems from its expansion into Florida for a 16 percent third quarter earnings decline. Earnings dropped to $6.8-million, or 30 cents a share, down from $8.1-million, or 38 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 38 cents a share.
DOW DOLLAR YIELD
30 industrials vs. Japan's yen 30-year U.S. bond
7506.67 120.78 6.20
+8.35 +0.31 -0.08