Business briefs


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 28, 2003 at 9:59 p.m.

Stocks rise but again post monthly declines

NEW YORK - Investors vacillated between jitters about a possible war with Iraq and optimism from upbeat economic news for much of the day Friday, finally sending the market's gauges higher in the final minutes of trading. The gains weren't enough to save most stocks from their third straight monthly declines.
Analysts remain dubious of Wall Street's ability to forge an upward path in the face of uncertainty about Iraq. And despite Friday's advances, the major indexes ended the week lower, snapping a two-week winning stretch.
The Dow Jones industrial average inched up 6.09, or 0.1 percent, to 7,891.08, having risen as much as 80.81 earlier. For the week, the Dow lost 1.6 percent.
The broader market also rose Friday, but posted weekly declines. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 13.58, or 1 percent, to 1,337.52. For the week, the Nasdaq fell 0.9 percent.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.87, or 0.5 percent, to 841.15, on Friday, but had a weekly loss of 0.8 percent.

Economy grew twice as fast as first thought

WASHINGTON - The economy didn't falter as badly in the final quarter of last year as first thought. A new reading showed growth at a 1.4 percent pace - still slow but twice as fast as the government previously estimated.
While economists welcomed the upward revision to gross domestic product reported by the Commerce Department Friday, they said it didn't change the basic picture of the $10.6 trillion economy: It is listless.
"I think the economy is rudderless," said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research Corp. Although he believes the economy will stay in a funk for much of 2003, most other analysts are hopeful the recovery will get noticeably stronger in the second half of the year.
In fact, many believe the economy is already doing better in the current January-March quarter, with estimates of growth at a 2.5 percent pace or more.
- The Associated Press

Consumer-sentiment index reportedly falls

  • NEW YORK - Consumers' attitudes about the economy softened at the end of February, according to a report released Friday.
    The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at the end of the month was said to have fallen to 79.9 from the 82.4 reported in January, according to people familiar with the report. It's released only to subscribers.
    But while the February final sentiment reading was below January's, it was little changed from the 79.2 that had been reported in the preliminary February survey released two weeks ago.
    The drop in the University of Michigan's sentiment index was also better than the 79.2 expected by economists.

    AOL appoints its new chief financial officer

    NEW YORK - America Online Inc. has named a Turner Broadcasting executive and AOL Time Warner Inc. veteran as its new chief financial officer, the latest sign the online giant's corporate parent is taking an active role in efforts to reposition the troubled business.
    Stephen M. Swad will take the job formerly held by America Online vice chairman Joseph Ripp, the company said Friday.
    Swad most recently was executive vice president of finance and administration for Turner Broadcasting System Inc., another part of AOL Time Warner.
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