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BUSINESS TODAY

WEEKLY JOBLESS CLAIMS FALL: New claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 35,000 to 414,000 in the week ended July 14, the Labor Department said. The prior week, claims totaled 449,000, which was the most since July 1992. This year, jobless claims have averaged 384,500, up from the weekly average of 302,800 last year and the most since 407,800 in 1992. The four-week moving average of claims, which smoothes out volatility in the weekly numbers, rose to 414,500 from 412,000 the prior week.

DELL TO MEET FORECASTS: Dell Computer Corp., fighting a price-cutting war that it helped start, expects to meet Wall Street's lowered expectations by posting $7.6-billion in second-quarter revenue, chairman and chief executive Michael Dell said. Speaking to an annual meeting of stockholders, Dell said the personal computermaker also expects a profit of 16 cents per share in the quarter ending Aug. 3. That forecast, which excludes a one-time charge of $700-million for layoffs, facility consolidation and other items, would meet Wall Street's forecasts. Dell shares rose $1.18 to $28.38.

FLORIDA TRADE ACTIVITY RISES: International trade activity in Florida hit $18.7-billion during the first quarter, up 6.3 percent from the previous year, according to the Wachovia Florida World Trade Index. But activity in Tampa was down. Exports through Tampa's port and airport fell 30 percent, to $270-million, primarily as a result of a decline in fertilizer shipments. Statewide, one of the fastest growing areas was shipment of computers and electronic equipment to Latin America and Canada. Although Florida exports grew faster than imports, imports still accounted for 60 percent of trade activity. The Wachovia statistics show ports and airports in Savannah, Ga.; New York; and New Orleans increased their international shipments of goods originating in Florida.

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