Business briefs


Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 11:45 p.m.

Oil prices, jobs report send stocks tumbling

  • NEW YORK - Jittery investors sent stocks tumbling Thursday as Wall Street was pummeled by a sharp climb in oil prices, rising unemployment and a disappointing forecast from General Motors Corp.
    Crude oil futures extended their gains, surpassing $48 per barrel and closing at a six-week high. A barrel of light crude was quoted at $48.04, up $1.67, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
    Wall Street also was unnerved by the latest first-time jobless claims report, which showed a jump of 10,000 claims to 367,000 last week.
    But while the markets held on with modest losses through most of the day, General Motors' outlook - at the low end of Wall Street expectations - sent stocks tumbling.
    The Dow fell 111.95, or 1.05 percent, to 10,505.83. Broader stock indicators also fell sharply. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 10.25, or 0.86 percent, at 1,177.45, and the Nasdaq composite index lost down 21.97, or 1.05 percent, at 2,070.56.

    Former top AOL exec pleads guilty to fraud

  • ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The former chief of human resources at America Online pleaded guilty to fraud Thursday for a scheme in which he allowed himself to profit from a sham consulting contract.
    Court records indicate that Gregory S. Horton, 38, of Weston, Fla., also defrauded two former employers - Florida-based AutoNation and Denver-based Qwest Communications - of more than $2 million in similar schemes.
    Horton faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced April 22. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 and could be required to pay restitution.

    Cholesterol medicine may go nonprescription

  • BETHESDA, Md. - Federal drug advisers Thursday weighed whether to put a drug aimed at treating high cholesterol on drugstore shelves.
    Supporters say making a low-dose cholesterol medicine available for this chronic condition without a doctor's prescription would help get needed treatment to millions of Americans who are at risk of heart disease.
    Dr. Richard Pasternak, vice president for clinical research for Merck Research Labs, told the Food and Drug Administration's panel of scientific advisers that an over-the-counter version of Mevacor would mean more people would use the drug, more would lower their cholesterol and the number of heart attacks would drop.
    But advisers to the FDA were considering whether consumers would be able to accurately determine whether they need the drug. A test is needed to measure cholesterol, and continued testing is necessary to see if the drug is working.

    No changes in store for Home Depot's strategy

  • ATLANTA - The Home Depot Inc.'s core strategy of store modernization and expansion into new markets here and abroad will not change anytime soon, the company's chief executive said Thursday as he outlined strong earnings and sales expectations for 2005.
    "It's pretty much chiseled in granite," CEO Bob Nardelli said of the company's core principles.
    The comments came as the nation's largest home improvement store chain said it will add 175 new stores in fiscal 2005 and projected sales growth for the year of 9 percent to 12 percent and earnings per share growth of 10 percent to 14 percent.
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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