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BUSINESS TODAY

FED EXPECTED TO BUMP RATES: The Federal Reserve, wanting to keep inflation at bay, is expected to boost short-term interest rates for a third time this year today. Private economists have mixed opinions on whether the economy is still working through or has already emerged from its late spring blues, but most believe the economy is in good enough shape for the Fed to raise the rates again. Inflation isn't currently threatening the economy, but the Fed wants to make sure it doesn't become a problem, which is why economists anticipate Fed policymakers will increase the target for the federal funds rate from 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent.

CRYO-CELL VERDICT OVERTURNED: A federal judge in Delaware has overturned a jury verdict against Cryo-Cell International and three other cord blood banks and ordered a new trial on related patent infringement and damages. A year ago, a Delaware jury found the four cord blood banks had infringed on two patents held by PharmaStem Therapeutics in Larchmont, N.Y. and owed $7.1-million in damages. On appeal, the judge ruled the companies did not infringe on one patent because they do not sell the blood, but simply provide processing and storage service. The judge also denied PharmaStem's motion for a permanent injunction against the companies and motions for enhanced damages and attorneys' fees. PharmaStem said 16 of 20 cord blood banks in the United States hold a license to use its patents. Cryo-Cell said it expects PharmaStem's patents will ultimately be invalidated and the claims will be unenforceable.

CATALINA MARKETING SELLS DIRECT MAIL UNIT: Catalina Marketing, Inc. of St. Petersburg announced Monday it agreed to sell its direct mail unit to a Michigan direct mailer for an undisclosed amount of cash. The purchase by Valassis is part of Catalina's effort to refocus on its point-of-sale coupon business.

GAS PRICES UP: The retail price of gasoline nationwide rose to an average of $1.87 per gallon, the Energy Department reported Monday. The government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade unleaded gasoline increased 2 cents last week to $1.866. Prices are 22.3 cents higher than a year ago. Average nationwide prices peaked at $2.06 a gallon during the week ending May 22. In Tampa Bay, current pump prices averaged $1.82 per gallon for regular, $1.97 for mid grade and $2.01 for premium, according to AAA.

JARDEN TO BUY AMERICAN HOUSEHOLD: Consumer products company Jarden Corp. said Monday it has agreed to purchase American Household Inc. in a $745.6-million cash deal that includes the assumption of unspecified debt. As part of the transaction, Warburg Pincus will invest $350-million in Jarden and receive a seat on the Jarden board of directors. American Household's businesses and brands include Sunbeam Products, First Alert and Mr. Coffee. Sunbeam is based in Boca Raton. Jarden's products include home canning, home vacuum packaging, kitchen matches, plastic cutlery and playing cards. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2005, subject to regulatory and other approvals.

DELTA TO BRING PILOTS FROM RETIREMENT: Delta Air Lines' pilots union agreed Monday to allow the struggling carrier to bring pilots out of retirement on a limited basis to deal with staff shortages that threaten to ground flights. The move came after the company agreed not to terminate the pilots' pension plan before February even if it files for bankruptcy. The tentative agreement must be ratified by the 7,500 active Delta pilots. The nation's third-largest airline has warned it would have to file for bankruptcy if it did not stem a wave of early pilot retirements by the end of the month.

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