Business briefs

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 12:57 a.m.

Stocks close mixed on 2004's first trading day

  • NEW YORK - Wall Street began the new year Friday with some of the same enthusiasm that marked its big comeback in 2003 - stocks surged in early trading on upbeat economic news. But investors later took some profits in blue chips, leaving prices mixed.

    The Dow Jones industrial average was down 44.07, or 0.4 percent, at 10,409.85 Friday but up 0.8 percent for the week.

    Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 3.44, or 0.3 percent, to 1,108.48 but was up 1.1 percent for the week. The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.31, or 0.17 percent, to 2006.68 and was up 1.7 percent for the week.

    - The Associated Press

    Survey: Auto execs say worst likely in the past

  • DETROIT - Automotive executives worldwide believe the industry is still at least a couple of years away from returning to peak profitability, but most say the worst is likely in the past, according to a new study.

    Twenty-nine of the 100 auto executives interviewed by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm, said they expect industry profits to be at their greatest levels since 2000 in 2006. Only nine cited 2004 for a return to peak profits.

    - The Associated Press

    Judge: Stewart jurors are off-limits to media

  • NEW YORK - In a judicial nod to public interest in the Martha Stewart criminal trial, a judge warned Friday that prospective jurors and their families are off limits to anyone reporting about the case.

    The selection process begins Tuesday when prospective jurors receive questionnaires at U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where Stewart faces charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

    On Jan. 20, the trial begins in earnest when the 62-year-old home decorating diva is introduced to prospective jurors, some of whom will be interviewed in greater detail about their background, beliefs and ability to be fair and impartial.

    - The Associated Press

    Judges rebuff use of new law on old claims

  • NEW YORK - One of the gifts Congress handed shareholders in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was a longer period of time in which to bring lawsuits against corporate wrongdoers.

    But so far, judges have generally been rebuffing attempts by investors to apply the new, extended statute of limitations to old cases or claims that don't involve outright fraud.

    The so-called ''first impression'' rulings are among the first batch of decisions to interpret the bounds of Sarbanes-Oxley, the far-reaching law enacted last summer to combat financial fraud and bolster corporate accountability.

    - Dow Jones/AP

    Survey: Top jury awards drop in value in 2003

  • BOSTON - Juries handed out fewer big-ticket verdict awards to individual plaintiffs in 2003, according to an annual survey released Friday.

    The value of the 10 biggest jury awards fell to $1.27 billion, a six-year low, Boston-based Lawyers Weekly USA said. The highest-paying verdict was $254.6 million, the smallest top award since 1993.

    The top award went to two German entrepreneurs who won a complex lawsuit in which they claimed they were cheated out of their equity stake in a European joint venture between Bertelsmann AGG and America Online.

    - The Associated Press

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