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Analysts calm wholesale prices surge

By TIMES WIRES
Published December 20, 2006


Wholesale prices surged in November by the largest amount in more than three decades, led by huge increases in the cost of gasoline and new cars and trucks. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices jumped 2 percent last month, the biggest advance since a similar 2 percent increase in November 1974, back during a decade when repeated oil shocks sent inflation spiraling. Analysts, however, dismissed the increase as a one-month aberration. They still believe the inflation threat that gripped the country earlier this year is easing.

Flat profit, changes at HSN, Diller says

IAC/InterActiveCorp, Barry Diller's e-commerce conglomerate, said Tuesday it expects its fiscal 2007 profit will be flat. The reason is that St. Petersburg-based HSN Inc. is shouldering bigger expenses to have its programming aired on satellite networks at a time when the network's sales turnaround remains a work in progress. Diller disclosed two other changes in an investor conference: HSN will stop using offshore call centers; and one thrust of the new merchandise strategy calls for cutting back a reliance on HSN's own brands. The company also will take a $200-million pretax write-down on fourth-quarter earnings from the sale of struggling call center giant Precision Response Corp.

European market backs NYSE merger

The New York Stock Exchange and Euronext NV cleared the biggest remaining obstacle in the path of their planned $14.3-billion combination, as the European bourse's shareholders on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to back the deal. Barring a surprise rejection by the NYSE Group Inc.'s shareholders, who vote today, the Euronext meeting sets the stage for the creation of the world's largest stock exchange operator by market capitalization and the first trans-Atlantic equities market. Exchanges worldwide are anxious to find partners. The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. has amassed a 29 percent stake in the London Stock Exchange Group PLC and launched a hostile bid for the rest this month.

Distributor to buy Oldsmar company

Network Liquidators, a Tampa distributor of used networking equipment, is acquiring Oldsmar-based 1 Nation Technology, a distributor of used cell phones, for an undisclosed amount. Inc. magazine recently ranked Network Liquidators the country's 95th-fastest-growing private company. It has 29 employees and annual sales of $10-million.

Seniors start to like Medicare drug plan

Seniors' satisfaction with the Medicare drug plan is growing as the program's first year ends. In fact, people enrolled in the privately run plans are generally so content that only 5 percent definitely intend to switch plans during the open-enrollment period that ends Dec. 31. Of 13 opinion polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation of Washington, D.C., since the Medicare drug law was signed in 2003, a survey in November showed that 42 percent of seniors view the drug benefit favorably, up from 34 percent in a previous survey.