Business briefs

Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 28, 2005 at 11:46 p.m.

USDA breaks ground on new research facility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold a groundbreaking ceremony today at 11 a.m. for a new research facility to be built in Gainesville.
The event will be held at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE), 1700 SW 23rd Drive, near the University of Florida campus.
The new building, which will add 4,000 square feet of research space to the ARS' CMAVE, will cost about $1 million and will include a greenhouse and head house with insect-rearing facilities and plant-growth chambers. The construction is funded by the Department of Defense.
The agency said this is the first step in an infrastructure improvement for the CMAVE Mosquito and Fly Research Unit to develop the next generation of tools to protect military personnel from disease-transmitting insects.
-Doris Chandler

Stocks fall as inflation, profit-taking spur fear

NEW YORK - Stocks skidded Monday as investors, concerned about rising prices and the threat of inflation, took profits after last week's three-day rally. Volatility in pharmaceutical stocks and an analyst downgrade of Dow Jones industrial General Motors Corp. also pressured the market.
Fresh worries about inflation arose after the Commerce Department's latest reading on consumer income and spending.
The Dow fell 75.37, or 0.7 percent, to 10,766.23. Broader stock indicators also fell. The S&P 500 was down 7.77, or 0.64 percent, at 1,203.60, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 13.68, or 0.66 percent, to 2,051.72.
- The Associated Press

Couple wins $1 million in Merrill Lynch fraud

BOCA RATON - A couple won a $1 million award against Merrill Lynch & Co. after claiming the investment firm hid conflicts of interest and issued fraudulent analyst reports.
An arbitration panel of the National Association of Securities Dealers, the brokerage industry's self-policing organization, recently found that Merrill Lynch was ``guilty of intentional misconduct'' and knew it was using a rating system that overvalued many companies.
The $1 million award includes $300,000 in punitive damages for Gary and Lisa Friedman of Boca Raton. The couple had requested $4 million, plus interest and punitive damages, for their claims of breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, negligence and breach of contract.
Merrill Lynch said in a statement that the facts did not support the NASD panel's decision.
- The Associated Press

Fiat's SpA overall loss narrowed in 2004

ROME - Fiat SpA said Monday its operating result broke even and overall loss narrowed during 2004, including that of its closely watched Fiat Auto unit. The company's CEO predicted a net profit for its automotive unit by 2007.
Analysts, however, said it was too soon to tell whether Monday's numbers were a true indication that the company was making a turnaround.
- The Associated Press

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