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Published April 27, 2004

NEW HOME SALES ROCKET: Sales of new homes surged by 8.9 percent in March, the largest monthly increase in nine months, as mortgage rates bottomed out before starting to ascend. The increase pushed sales of new single-family houses to a record seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23-million last month. That was up from 1.13-million in February, the Commerce Department said. The monthly increase of 8.9 percent was the highest since June 2003. New home sales soared by 19.3 percent in the South, hitting a record rate of 613,000.

FIRST ADVANTAGE BUYS ANOTHER: First Advantage Corp., a risk management solutions provider based in St. Petersburg, announced the acquisition Monday of CoreFacts LLC, a provider of corporate investigative, computer forensic and electronic discovery services. Terms of the deal were not available. CoreFacts, based in Washington, expands First Advantage's investigative services to include computer and litigation-related fact-finding capabilities.

DELTA LOWERS ATLANTA FARES: Delta Air Lines announced Monday that it is offering sale fares between its Atlanta hub and several U.S. destinations. Fares start as low as $55 each way - the price from Tampa to Atlanta is $75, not including taxes and fees - and are available for travel until Oct. 6. Tickets must be purchased by May 7 and require a seven-day advance purchase without a minimum stay. Some blackout dates apply.

COMPUTER ASSOCIATES RESTATES EARNINGS: Hoping to move past an accounting scandal that forced its CEO to resign, Computer Associates International restated financial results from 2000 and 2001 on Monday to reflect $2.2-billion in revenue that was improperly booked. The software maker also continued its management shakeup, confirming that director Kenneth Cron had been named interim CEO and former Compaq Computer Corp. executive Jeff Clarke is COO.

GLAZER BUYS MORE OF SOCCER CLUB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer increased his shareholding in Manchester United to 18.25 percent, according to a statement issued Monday to the London Stock Exchange. Glazer, who earlier held a 16.69 percent stake in the club, bought an additional 4.1-million shares in the world's richest sports franchise. Cubic Expression, an investment company owned by Irish racehorse owners John Magnier and J.P. McManus, is the largest single shareholder in Manchester United with 28.89 percent.

KMART, STEWART COMPANY MAKE UP: Kmart Holding Corp. strengthened its partnership with Martha Stewart's company, announcing Monday it was dropping a lawsuit about royalty payments and the two damaged companies were extending their licensing agreement by two years. Stewart's conviction March 5 of obstructing justice and lying about a stock sale does not appear to have hurt the partnership. "We are pleased to have extended and deepened our relationship with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia," Kmart CEO Julian Day said in a statement.

MITSUBISHI'S CEO STEPS DOWN: Rolf Eckrodt resigned Monday as CEO and president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. just days after key stakeholder DaimlerChrysler AG's announcement that it won't offer more money to finance the struggling Japanese company's turnaround. Mitsubishi Motors said in a statement that a replacement will be chosen soon, but Keiichiro Hashimoto, CFO, will be acting president until then.

IT'S FEDEX KINKO'S NOW: FedEx Corp. is pasting its name onto the Kinko's computing and copy business it recently acquired to reflect its new ownership. FedEx said Monday the stores will be renamed FedEx Kinko's Office and Print Center. Executives unveiled the brand at an employee event in Dallas, where Kinko's is based, saying the new identity better reflects the full range of document and shipping services that will be available by the end of the year at 1,100 domestic locations. FedEx completed its $2.4-billion acquisition of Kinko's Inc. from a New York equity firm in February.

CATERPILLAR WORKERS REJECT PACT: About 8,000 Caterpillar Inc. workers rejected a six-year contract that the heavy equipment giant has called its final offer, but the United Auto Workers told employees to report to work Monday even though the current contract expired Sunday night. The union's bargaining team will meet "as soon as practical to assess the situation and plan our next steps," chief UAW negotiator Cal Rapson said. Union officials did not release totals of the weekend balloting by seven locals in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

ERNST & YOUNG SUSPENSION BEGINS: A six-month bar against Ernst & Young from accepting new corporate audit clients began Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. An administrative law judge at the SEC imposed the suspension on the nation's third-largest accounting firm on April 16 for compromising its independence by engaging in a lucrative business deal with a company whose books it audited. The judge also ordered Ernst & Young to pay $1.7-million in restitution, plus interest.

SHORT-TERM T-BILL RATES RISE: The Treasury Department sold $17-billion in three-month securities at a discount rate of 0.970 percent, up from 0.935 percent last week. An additional $14-billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 1.165 percent, up from 1.080 percent. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year constant-maturity Treasury bills rose to 1.50 percent last week from 1.41 percent the week before.

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