ECONOMY WILL SLOW, TREASURY OFFICIAL SAYS: The U.S. economy will cool this year after year 2000 inventory building helped fuel the rapid pace of growth during the final months of 1999, a Treasury Department official said. John Auten, director of the Treasury's office of macroeconomic analysis, said the economy "seems likely to grow at a somewhat more moderate but still healthy pace going forward with inflation remaining under control." Gross domestic product grew at a 5.8 percent pace in the fourth quarter, up from the third quarter's pace of 5.7 percent.
AETNA TO RESTATE EARNINGS: Aetna Inc. said it will restate earnings for 1998 and the first three quarters of 1999 following a Securities and Exchange Commission review. Changes related to Aetna's 1997 sale of Human Affairs International Inc. to Magellan Health Services Inc. will reduce profit from operations by $10-million each for the first three quarters of 1999. A similar reduction is expected for the fourth quarter. Profit for 1998 will be cut by $39-million as Aetna reclassifies some money earned from Magellan as a capital gain. The health insurer's shares rose $3.06\ to $56.31\ at the traditional close of trading.
EXPEDIA TO BUY TRAVEL WEB SITES: Expedia.com, the online travel agency recently spun off from Microsoft Corp., says it will acquire two other travel sites on the World Wide Web in stock deals totaling $177-million. Expedia will acquire Las Vegas-based Travelscape.com for 3-million shares, worth $95-million, and Seattle-based VacationSpot.com for 2.6-million shares, worth $82-million. Expedia.com CEO Richard Barton said the two new sites will add to Expedia's lodging data bases.
OUTBACK, HOGAN SETTLE DUNDEE DISPUTE: Outback Steakhouse Inc. of Tampa has agreed to stop using the "Crocodile Dundee" movie character in its advertising and restaurants to settle a lawsuit filed by actor Paul Hogan, according to court documents. Hogan, who portrayed Crocodile Dundee and owns the rights to the character, complained that the steakhouse chain was using the name to identify menu items and used his picture as part of its advertising and restaurant decor. Outback also agreed to pay $15,000 to cover Hogan's legal fees.
GM TO ISSUE NEW HUGHES STOCK: General Motors Corp. plans to issue $15-billion in new shares of the stock that tracks the performance of its Hughes Electronics unit in a bid to increase the value of GM shares, and denied it intends to spin off the high-flying Hughes. GM said it will offer its shareholders $8-billion in Hughes tracking stock in return for their regular GM shares. GM also will contribute $7-billion of Hughes' stock to trust funds for retiree benefits.
IMSG PROMOTES PRESIDENT TO CEO: David Howard has been promoted from president to chief executive of Insurance Management Solutions Group, less than six months after he was brought in to overhaul the St. Petersburg insurance outsourcing company. IMSG's current chief executive, David Meehan, 52, will remain chairman and oversee marketing. Howard, 38, is trying to sell the company's poor-performing flood map business and focus on e-commerce. IMSG has had a rocky start since its public spinoff from Bankers Insurance Group a year ago. Several top executives have left or were restructured out of their jobs. In the latest move, Jeff Bragg, 51, resigned as chief operating officer and a director to pursue personal interests, the company said. He will be replaced by Robert G. Gantley, 45, who was vice president of claims.
JetBlue Airways is selling tickets for $79 one way for flights between Tampa International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. A story Tuesday gave an incorrect