Business briefs

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 12:18 a.m.

Wall Street closes high amid sea of mergers

  • NEW YORK - U.S. stocks closed higher Monday as the markets wrapped up a disappointing January on a positive note after a flurry of merger deals, some solid data and relatively peaceful elections in Iraq.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dropped about 2.7 percent this month, ended the session up 62.74 points, or 0.6 percent, at 10489.94. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 26.58 points to 2062.41, but it lost 5.2 percent in January. That performance came as telecom and technology stocks posted some of the steepest declines in January compared with other sectors.
    The S&P 500 climbed 9.91 points, to 1181.27, with the broad gauge sliding 2.5 percent in the month.

    MetLife announces plan to buy Travelers Life

  • NEW YORK - The insurance giant MetLife Inc. is buying Travelers Life & Annuity Co. for at least $11.5 billion from Citigroup Inc., the nation's largest financial institution.
    The two companies, both based in New York, said in a statement that the deal will make MetLife ''the largest individual life insurer in North America, based on sales.''
    In addition to buying Travelers Life, MetLife also is acquiring almost all of Citi's international insurance business, the companies said.
    The deal already has been approved by both companies' boards and is expected to close in the summer, the statement said. It said the price was ''subject to closing adjustments.'' Citigroup had retained Travelers Life & Annuity in 2002 when it spun off Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in a $5 billion initial public offering. Travelers Property merged with St. Paul Cos. Inc. in 2003 to create The St. Paul Travelers Cos., based in St. Paul, Minn.
    Martha Butler, an analyst with Fitch Ratings in Chicago, said that the agency affirmed MetLife's long-term insurer rating because ''this gives them more scale, better distribution channels.'' She added: ''They were probably attracted to (Citi's) international business as well.''

    Pulitzer Inc. to be sold in $1.46 billion deal

  • ST. LOUIS - Lee Enterprises Inc. is buying Pulitzer Inc. - publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Arizona Daily Star and a dozen other daily newspapers - in a $1.46 billion deal that Lee said would create the nation's fourth-largest newspaper publisher. The nation's biggest newspaper publisher, Gannett Co., said it also had been a bidder.
    Michael E. Pulitzer, grandson of Pulitzer founder Joseph Pulitzer and chairman of the company's board, said the deal approved unanimously by the board and announced Sunday was in the best interests of Pulitzer's shareholders. Lee executives called the deal - following up on Lee's $694 million deal for family-owned Howard Publications in 2002 - a logical extension of its long-term growth strategy. With Pulitzer, Junck said, ''we're gaining exceptionally strong newspapers with strong franchises in growth markets.''

    Quarterly profits set record for Exxon Mobil

  • DALLAS - Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicy-traded oil company, said Monday it earned a record $8.42 billion in the fourth quarter and $25.33 billion for all of 2004, as higher prices for oil and natural gas erased a slight decline in production.
    Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, just missed $300 billion in sales for the year.
    The company said it earned $1.30 per share in the October-December period, compared with $6.65 billion, or $1.01 per share, a year earlier.

    - Compiled from The Associated Press

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