Northwest, Delta in talks about merger

By Times staff and wires
Published February 7, 2008

ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines are inching closer to a combination that would create the nation's largest carrier, and if a deal is reached it could be announced next week, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Delta's board of directors is expected to meet over the next several days, AP said. One point of contention has been what Northwest chief executive Doug Steenland's role would be at the combined company, AP reported.

Productivity's pace fell off in late 2007
WASHINGTON - Worker productivity, the key factor in rising living standards, slowed sharply in the final three months of the year while wage pressures increased. The Labor Department reported Wednesday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the October-December quarter, down from a 6 percent performance in the July-September period. The slowdown reflected the fact that overall economic activity weakened considerably from October to December.

Macy's cutbacks include 2,300 jobs
CINCINNATI - Macy's Inc. said Wednesday it will cut about 2,300 management jobs as the department store operator consolidates three regional divisions and decentralizes buying in a bid to reduce costs and boost sales. The consolidation of the office organizations is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2008. Macy's Florida is not affected.

Yahoo exploring alternatives
SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo Inc. chief executive Jerry Yang said Wednesday that the struggling Internet pioneer is still examining ways to avoid a takeover by rival Microsoft Corp. "Our board is thoughtfully evaluating a wide range of potential strategic alternatives in what is a complex and evolving landscape," Yang said. He emphasized no decision had been made on Microsoft's six-day-old bid, initially valued at $44.60-billion, or $31 per share.

Raymond James unit settles claims
ST. PETERSBURG - Raymond James Financial Services has paid $685,000 to settle five claims against a former broker in Shrewsbury, N.J., who was accused of churning customer accounts and making unauthorized trades. An additional claim is pending. Gregory Horton, who was affiliated with brokerage firm from 1999 to 2004, was banned from the securities industry last month by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Raymond James Financial Services is a subsidiary of St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial Inc. The company declined to comment.

WellCare facing lower paybacks
TAMPA - WellCare Health Plans Inc. in Tampa said Florida is cutting reimbursements to its state Medicaid plans by about $180-million as a result of legislative budget cuts. It also has signed a contract to offer its first Medicaid plan in Hawaii, with maximum reimbursement of $1.2-billion. WellCare is the focus of a federal investigation into possible overpayment; the company said it is cooperating with authorities.