China's brakes on gro wth getting results

By Times Staff and Associated Press
Published October 20, 2006

China's roaring economic growth rate slowed to 10.4 percent in the third quarter, indicating that curbs meant to cool off the boom are taking effect, the government said. But it said controls "should be further enhanced." The growth rate for the January-September period was down sharply from the 11.3 percent rate reported for the previous quarter, which was China's fastest expansion in a decade, according to figures released by China's National Bureau of Statistics.

NBC Universal tightens its belt

NBC Universal announced Thursday it will cut 700 jobs, abandon MSNBC's New Jersey headquarters and shift spending from traditional broadcast TV to digital entertainment, reflecting both hard times at the network and changing times in the media world. The company, a unit of General Electric Co., said the various moves were expected to save $750-million by the end of 2008.

30-year mortgages fall back to 6.36%

Rates on 30-year mortgages, after rising for the first time in five weeks, edged down slightly this week. Mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 6.36 percent. That compared with 6.37 percent last week when rates had risen after having fallen to a seven-month low of 6.24 percent.

Leading indicators do a turnabout

A closely watched gauge of future economic activity rose in September following two consecutive declines, as consumer expectations improved, an industry-backed research group said Thursday The Conference Board said its Index of Leading Economic Indicators edged up 0.1 percent to 137.7 last month. The index had slipped 0.2 percent in July and August. The index is designed to predict economic activity three to six months ahead.

Labor campaign targets Wal-Mart

The voting power of Wal-Mart's huge U.S. work force has become the latest target in the retailer's battle with union critics, as labor activists launch a drive to reach Wal-Mart workers ahead of midterm elections next month. WakeUpWalMart.com, started last year by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said Thursday it will contact Wal-Mart workers and shoppers in multiple states with fliers, phone calls and television ads. The union campaign comes after Wal-Mart entered the political fray this summer with a letter to workers in Iowa naming politicians who had attacked the company.

Hillsborough bed tax breaks record

Annual resort tax revenues in Hillsborough County set a record for the year ending Aug. 31. The county collected nearly $20.7-million, an 3.6-percent increase over the previous year. The increase was caused by higher room rates, which offset lower hotel occupancy.