Business briefs


Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 at 11:06 p.m.

Stocks move higher as Fed increases rate

  • NEW YORK - Wall Street ended the first half of 2004 with a moderate advance Wednesday as the Federal Reserve's widely expected interest rate hike allowed investors to put weeks of uncertainty behind them.
    The markets' reaction to the Fed's move - which raises the benchmark lending rate by 0.25 percentage point - was somewhat muted, as the hike was what investors had anticipated. The increase, bringing rates off their 45-year low of 1 percent to 1.25 percent, was the first in four years.
    Although the market worried about the size of the increase, and the Fed's accompanying policy statement, there were few surprises in the end. The Fed promised to continue a "measured pace" of rate increases to combat inflation. And while it acknowledged there is a somewhat higher risk of inflation, the statement added that some of the inflation factors were transitory and that the risks were balanced.
    The Dow Jones industrial average gained 22.05, or 0.2 percent, to 10,435.48.
    Broader stock indicators were moderately higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 4.64, or 0.4 percent, at 1,140.84, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 12.86, or 0.6 percent, to 2,047.79.
    - The Associated Press

    Consumer complaint program reinstated

  • A statewide program to mediate consumer complaints against businesses not regulated by Florida has been reinstated at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.
    The 2004 Legislature restored the department's authority as the statewide consumer complaints clearinghouse, effective today.
    Before the longtime program was eliminated by the 2003 Legislature, the agency processed more than 25,000 written complaints annually that had been filed against businesses not regulated by the state.
    - Doris Chandler

    E-mail tracking ruling spurs privacy concerns

  • BOSTON - In an online eavesdropping case with potentially profound implications, a federal appeals court ruled it was acceptable for a company that offered e-mail service to surreptitiously track its subscribers' messages.
    A now-defunct online literary clearinghouse, Interloc Inc., made copies of the e-mails in 1998 so it could peruse messages sent to its subscribers by rival Amazon.com Inc. An Interloc executive was subsequently indicted on an illegal wiretapping charge.
    An advocacy group said Tuesday's ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opens the door to further interpretations of the federal Wiretap Act that could erode personal privacy rights.
    - The Associated Press

    Freddie Mac's earnings fell 52 percent in 2003

  • WASHINGTON - Mortgage giant Freddie Mac saw its earnings plummet 52 percent last year amid volatile interest rates and losses as it hedged against risk while grappling with an accounting crisis.
    The second-largest U.S. buyer of home mortgages reported Wednesday that its net income fell to $4.9 billion, or $6.79 a share, in 2003 from $10.1 billion, or $14.18 a share, in 2002.
    - The Associated Press
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