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BUSINESS TODAY

"MYDOOM' SPREADS FASTER: The continued spread Tuesday of a cleverly engineered computer virus called "Mydoom" or "Novarg" exposes a key flaw in the global embrace of technology: Its users are human. Posing as a legitimate computer error message, the worm tricked e-mail recipients into spreading it to friends, co-workers and business associates. MessageLabs Inc., which scans e-mail for viruses, said one in every 12 messages contained the worm. Besides sending out tainted e-mail, the program appears to open a back door so hackers can take over the computer later. The worm also tries to spread through the Kazaa file-sharing network and was programmed to try to overwhelm the Web site of the SCO Group Inc. beginning Sunday.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RISES: A closely watched gauge of consumer sentiment rose in January, with Americans' increasing confidence in the economy tempered only by doubts about jobs, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Its consumer confidence index rose to 96.8, the highest level since mid 2002, following a dip in December to a revised reading of 91.7. The rise in the index was smaller than analysts expected. They had forecast a reading of 99.0. A sub-index measuring consumers' assessment of current conditions rose to 80.0 from 74.3 in December. Those describing the present business climate as good rose to 22.0 percent, up from 18.6 percent in the previous month.

PERSONAL INCOME TICKS UP: Personal income nationwide grew 1.1 percent in the third quarter of 2003, compared with 1.0 percent in second quarter and 0.8 percent in the first quarter. In Florida, which ranked 24th among the states, personal income was up 1.2 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. According to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, earnings grew in every industry for the first time in more than two years.

ORLANDO FIRM ACCUSED OF FRAUD: The Securities and Exchange Commission accused W.L. Ware Enterprises and Investments Inc. and founder Warren L. Ware, 32, of Orlando on Tuesday of defrauding investors through a "Dreamkeeper Program" targeting Christians and African-Americans. U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp in Orlando issued a temporary restraining order against the defendants and froze their assets. The SEC said Ware raised at least $16.5-million from more than 600 investors by promising to pay a 10 percent return monthly for the first 10 months, then 5 percent monthly thereafter. The SEC said Ware misappropriated more than $2.4-million and used money from new investors to pay early investors. The SEC said he claimed the investments were risk-free and approved by the National Football League.

JEWELRY TV ON AIR: Jewelry Television by America's Collectible Network has launched its live, jewelry home shopping channel in the Tampa Bay area through Bright House Networks. Digital cable subscribers can watch the 24-hour network broadcast from Tennessee on Channel 160. Analog subscribers can tune in for part-time access to the jewelry network on Channel 47, interspersed with programming from other networks.

CITIGROUP SHARPENS ITS AX: Citigroup Inc., the biggest financial services company, plans to eliminate 847 jobs at a New Orleans credit card center purchased from Sears, Roebuck & Co. and close the facility by October, said spokeswoman Maria Mendler. The cuts are part of a plan to cut 3,400 jobs, or about 40 percent, of 8,300 employees in the unit, Mendler said. Citigroup bought the Sears business in November for $3.4-billion. The company said last week that 930 workers at a Sears card center in Trevose, Pa., would be fired. Those cuts will occur in two stages, in late April and early December, she said.

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