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5 Big Stories: The Week in Business

By Jeff Harrington, Times Deputy Business Editor
Published April 22, 2007


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1. Dow nips at 13,000

Closing at 12,961.98 on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is nearing the market milestone of 13,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: Several big companies' earnings are beating analyst expectations, so investors are buying with more confidence. And that means talk of a recession is subsiding - at least for a week.

2. A boost to lure tourists

Pinellas County's tourism marketing agency seeks a $29.9-million budget for next year.

WHAT IT MEANS: The request exceeds a departmental spending cap set by the county administrator. But it appears likely to be approved with county leaders eager to attract more free-spending visitors.

3. Catalina finds a new buyer

Catalina Marketing agrees to a $1.7-billion takeover bid from a New York private equity firm.

WHAT IT MEANS: The all-cash offer from Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners offers a slight premium to the one it trumps from another private-equity firm. Hellman, perhaps best-known for selling DoubleClick Inc. to Google, promises to invest in the St. Petersburg coupon distributor and keep its 1,300-member work force intact.

4. Gas prices reach the $3 threshold

Signs for unleaded gas at $2.99 start popping up around the bay area.

WHAT IT MEANS: Time to revise the forecasts. AAA backpedaled from predictions that prices would retreat after nearing $3. One problem: inventories are apparently lower than expected.

5. Tampa Bay drops in regional rankings

In the latest Regional Economic Scorecard, the Tampa Bay area slips to fourth of six Southern metropolitan regions.

WHAT IT MEANS: The area was third in last year's scorecard, but dips in housing permits and job growth dropped it this time. Some of the negatives, such as high housing prices, are starting to reverse.

[Last modified April 20, 2007, 22:14:10]


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