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Business Today

FEDEX RAISING RATES: FedEx Corp. said Wednesday it will raise delivery rates as much as 3.9 percent starting Jan. 6. The increases will push up the price of a FedEx Express shipment by about 3.5 percent and FedEx Ground by 3.9 percent. Earlier this month, FedEx's rival, United Parcel Service Inc., also announced it was raising rates beginning next year.

JURY AWARD IN METABOLIFE CASE: A federal jury in Birmingham, Ala., awarded nearly $4.1-million in a lawsuit against Metabolife International Inc., agreeing with three plaintiffs that the company sold an appetite suppressant in a defective condition. The plaintiffs filed suit in 2001 after suffering serious health problems, including stroke and heart attack. The company said it would appeal.

UNITED, MACHINISTS AGREE: The union representing 37,500 United Airlines machinists announced tentative agreements Wednesday on $1.5-billion in wage and benefit concessions, giving United an important win in its effort to avoid bankruptcy. The International Association of Machinists had been the only employee group not to have committed to its share of $5.8-billion in labor cutbacks. The mechanics, baggage handlers, reservations employees and other workers represented by the IAM will vote Wednesday on the agreements. The carrier hopes the cuts are steep enough to persuade the government to grant a $1.8-billion loan guarantee that it says it needs to stave off a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by year's end.

BOEING PLANS JOB CUTS: Boeing Co.'s commercial airplanes division expects to cut 5,000 jobs next year, commercial airplanes chief executive Alan Mulally said Wednesday. The reductions come atop nearly 30,000 cuts the Chicago-based aerospace company has made since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mulally told employees the company expects half the cuts to come through attrition and the rest through layoffs.

USF SEEKS GRANT FOR HIGH-TECH: The University of South Florida in Tampa is applying for a $10-million state grant under legislation passed in the spring to create high-tech centers of excellence throughout the state. The USF proposal targets bioengineering and life sciences on the basis that more than 370 businesses in the Tampa Bay region develop medical products, employing 51,000 workers and generating $5-billion a year in sales. The university's proposal intends to leverage existing programs in biomedicine, engineering and entrepreneurship and work with employers to create additional high-tech jobs in the area.

ACCLARIS WINS FLA. CONTRACT: Acclaris LLC said Wednesday it won a multiyear contract with the state of Florida. Under the agreement, worth $1.8-million in the first year, the Tampa company will monitor implementation of People First, Florida's effort to outsource payroll and other services for its 189,000 government employees. The state signed a seven-year, $280-million human resources outsourcing deal with Convergys Corp. of Cincinnati in August.

BUSH MAKES PSC APPOINTMENTS: Gov. Jeb Bush made two appointments Wednesday to the Florida Public Service Commission: three-term incumbent commissioner Terry Deason, 48, who has served on the PSC since 1991, and Charles "Chuck" Davidson, 39, former staff director of the state House of Representatives' committee on information technology. Each will begin new four-term years on Jan. 2. Davidson will replace incumbent commissioner Michael Palecki on the five-member PSC.

G35 NAMED CAR OF YEAR: The Infiniti G35 has been named Motor Trend magazine's 2003 Car of the Year, the publication said Wednesday. Both the sport sedan and sport coupe, which went on sale in March, were cited. The base price for the sedan is $27,100. The same for the coupe is $29,100. Last month, the publication named the Volvo XC90 its sport utility of the year. Last year's car of the year was the Ford Thunderbird.