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BUSINESS TODAY

VOLKSWAGEN UNVEILS NEW JETTA: German carmaker Volkswagen unveiled its new Jetta Wednesday and said it would be the first of nine new models in the next 18 months as the company seeks to boost sagging sales of its vehicles in North America. The new Jetta, the fifth version of the sporty compact since it was introduced in 1980, will go on sale in March with a base sticker price of $17,900, a hike of $220 over the current model. The new Jetta will be made in Mexico on a stronger frame and will feature a five-cylinder, 2.5-liter, 150-horsepower engine. The car is larger and has more safety features and sports a new grille design.

SAXOTECH MOVES HEADQUARTERS TO TAMPA: A Danish technology company has moved its North American headquarters to Tampa, bringing 30 jobs. SAXoTECH Inc. provides content management and online production systems for media companies. The headquarters moved from Rockville, Md.

ALLSTATE ASKS FOR LANDLORD INSURANCE RATE HIKE: Allstate Floridian wants to hike the price of landlord insurance on residential properties. The company on Monday asked the state Office of Insurance Regulation for permission to raise premiums for landlord package policies by a statewide average of 18.3 percent. If approved, it would take effect on April 17 for policy renewals.

BRISTOL-MYERS MIGHT SELL OTC LINE: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is in talks to sell its consumer over-the-counter drug line, which includes pain relievers Excedrin and Bufferin, cold medicine Comtrex and Keri lotions, according to published reports. The pharmaceutical giant, which has struggled to restructure in the face of lost patents on key drugs, is working to shed noncore consumer products as it focuses on drugs to treat and prevent disease, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported. A Bristol-Myers spokesman declined to comment.

CIRCUIT CITY SALES DOWN 5.8 PERCENT: Lower customer traffic and disappointing desktop computer sales dragged down all-important December same-store sales at Circuit City Stores Inc. by 5.8 percent, "well below" the chain's expectations, its chief executive said Wednesday. W. Alan McCollough said the chain "must find more effective ways" to lure customers into its stores but warned that lukewarm consumer perception of the company "won't be changed overnight."

SCRUSHY TRIAL JURY SELECTION BEGINS: Jury selection began Wednesday in the federal fraud trial of Richard Scrushy as dozens of potential jurors began filling out questionnaires about themselves and their knowledge of the case against the fired HealthSouth CEO, accused of heading a conspiracy to overstate earnings by more than $2.6-billion. Court officials said more than 110 prospective jurors showed up on the first day of the weeklong process, with 300 expected to report by Friday.

BLOGGING PIONEERS UNITE: Two startups that helped spread the phenomenon of online journals known as blogs are joining forces to create a more diversified company, further signaling their maturity from a quirky craze to serious business. Six Apart, developer of the popular Movable Type software and a blogging service called TypePad, is buying Danga Interactive Inc., which operates LiveJournal, a youthful blogging community. The companies did not disclose financial specifics of the cash-and-stock deal, announced today.

HOME DEPOT BUYS DISTRIBUTOR: Home Depot Inc., the world's largest home-improvement chain, has agreed to buy Litemor Distributors, Canada's largest commercial lighting distributor, to increase sales of materials and tools to contractors. Terms weren't disclosed.

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