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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002

SHOPPING WRAPPED UP: Holiday sales won't be as bad as some have forecast, judging by gift-wrap shipments. For 16 years, Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert has looked at gift wrap to gauge holiday sales of nondurable goods, which include many items given as gifts. This year, he predicts a 4.1 percent increase in sales for retailers. Appert says of the holiday shopping season, "On our scale of ho-ho, ho-hum and humbug, 2002 falls somewhere between ho-ho and ho-hum."

LOW BLOW: What do Microsoft and Tonya Harding have in common? A judge in an antitrust case against Microsoft says by not including Sun Microsystems' Java program in its Windows software, Microsoft hobbled Sun competitively the way Harding's supporters "knee-capped" a rival figure skater before the 1994 Olympics. That zinger from U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore.

INSIDE STORY: The U.S. auto industry is focusing on interiors for the 2003 and 2004 model years, according to Ward's Auto World. The trade magazine says designers at the Big Three are paying more attention to details and craftsmanship, hoping to compete with European and Japanese automakers. They plan to use different fabrics and surfaces, and to make buttons and switches look more upscale.

CALLED ON THE CARPET: As the popularity of cell phones has increased, the level of courtesy among users apparently has declined. In a survey of 150 executives, 63 percent say cell phone users aren't as polite as they were three years ago. And 94 percent say the biggest blunder is to take a call during a meeting.

57-MILLION: That many American workers have access to the Internet at their jobs, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The figure has nearly doubled from fewer than 30-million in March 2000.

-- Compiled by Cathy Keim from Times wires.

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