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BUSINESS TODAY

PSC DOESN'T DISMISS PROGRESS ENERGY REQUEST: The Florida Public Service Commission voted Tuesday not to dismiss Progress Energy Florida's request to collect about $252-million in hurricane costs from customers. The Office of Public Counsel and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group had asked the PSC to reject the request. The PSC is to begin three days of hearings on Progress' hurricane costs March 30.

Z-TEL NOW CALLED TRINSIC: Z-Tel Technologies changed its name Monday to Trinsic Inc., the name of the company's major telephone product, and the company's shares began trading Tuesday under the ticker symbol TRIN. The company's stock closed Tuesday at $1.70, up a penny.

PRINCIPALS BUY BACK ROGER BOUCHARD INSURANCE: Principals with Roger Bouchard Insurance and other investors have completed the buyback of the Clearwater agency from First National Bankshares of Florida. Naples-based First National bought the agency in 1999 to branch into insurance. But with the bank's pending acquisition by Fifth Third Bancorp, "the opportunity arose to sell the insurance agency back to the principals," First National president Kevin Hale said. Terms were not disclosed. The agency will continue to be led by the management team of Rick Bouchard, Tim Bouchard, Ray Bouchard, Earl Horton and Sam Lupfer.

OUTBACK FRANCHISEE TRYING TO RENEW LOAN: Outback Steakhouse said Tuesday a key California franchisee is trying to renew a $35-million line of credit. T-Bird Nevada LLC's loan was due to mature Friday, but Bank of America extended the date by one month so renewal negotiations could proceed, Outback general counsel Joe Kadow said. Outback serves as guarantor on the loan but is not the primary obligor.

FACTORY ORDERS RISE: America's factories saw orders rise by a strong 1.2 percent in November, the biggest advance in four months and a sign the nation's manufacturing sector was gaining momentum. The latest snapshot of manufacturing activity, released by the Commerce Department Tuesday, was better than the 0.8 percent rise economists were forecasting. The 1.2 percent increase, the most since July, followed a 0.9 percent gain in October.

MORGAN STANLEY BACK IN LOWER MANHATTAN: Brokerage giant Morgan Stanley will move into newly leased office space in lower Manhattan this summer, returning after its offices were destroyed on 9/11. The bank has leased 447,000 square feet of space at 1 New York Plaza.

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