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Wave of Illness hits Carnival ship

By TIMES WIRES
Published November 17, 2006


More than 700 passengers and crew members aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines' Liberty, one of the world's largest cruise ships, have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms, cruise line officials said. The outbreak is believed to be norovirus. Within 24 hours of leaving Rome on Nov. 3 with 2,800 passengers, the ship was swept with illness. It was due to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

Consumer prices tumble again

Consumer prices, helped by another huge decline in gasoline pump prices, fell for a second straight month in October. The Labor Department reported Thursday that consumer prices dropped by 0.5 percent last month, matching the decline recorded in September. It was the first back-to-back drops in the Consumer Price Index since late last year and provided evidence that inflation pressures are beginning to ease. Meanwhile, industrial production rose by 0.2 percent last month following a big 0.6 percent plunge in September.

Oil prices fall by over $2 a barrel

The price of oil sank by more than $2 a barrel Thursday, settling at its lowest level in a year as traders focused on the bearish aspects of conflicting market trends. OPEC is cutting output, but the U.S. economy is slowing; winter is near, but the country has an abundance of home heating fuels. These mixed signals help explain why crude futures have settled in a range roughly between $57 and $61 since the beginning of October.

Citigroup leads China banking buy

Citigroup Inc., America's largest banking institution, confirmed Thursday that a consortium it leads has been selected to acquire a majority stake in one of China's biggest regional financial institutions, Guangdong Development Bank. The consortium will acquire an 85.6 percent stake in GDB for $3.06-billion, Citigroup said. New York-based Citigroup itself will hold a 20 percent stake - under the 25 percent maximum allowed by Chinese government regulations.

Wal-Mart expands drug discounts

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. expanded a $4 offer for some prescription generic drugs to 11 more states Thursday in its plan to reach all 50 states by as early as January with the discount program. The retailer, under mounting political pressure led by union groups over its labor practices including health insurance, says the program that now covers 38 states will contribute to lowering the cost of health care in America. Critics have called the discounts a publicity stunt.