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A look back at the week's top business stories
By Jeff Harrington, Times Deputy Business Editor
Published February 10, 2008
1. Retail sales fizzle
Merchants report their worst January sales numbers in almost four decades.
What it means:High gas and food prices, a slumping housing market, the credit crunch and weakening job market factor in to prevent a rebound from a disappointing holiday season.
2. Crate & Barrel rolls into Tampa
The Chicago retailer sets its sights on opening a location near International Plaza in spring 2009.
What it means:Crate & Barrel has been flirting for years with a Tampa opening. It will attempt to crack a niche held for about 20 years by Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.
3. Electric bills on the rise
TECO says it will seek higher base rates for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.
What it means: The Tampa utility is vague about just how much it will seek in what would be the first base rate rise for Tampa Electric in 16 years. But it could be up to $4 a month for the average gas bill and up to $14 a month for Tampa Electric bills.
4. Who's waiting on everyone?
The service sector, which counts for two-thirds of the economy, shrinks for the first time since March 2003.
What it means:News from the wide-ranging service industry, which includes retail, restaurants and banks, is enough to send stocks down sharply early in the week as recession fears mount.
5. Walter shares hit a record
Shares in Walter Industries of Tampa reach an all-time high as coal prices soar.
What it means:Walter can thank bad weather for its good fortunes. Heavy rains have flooded mines and caused production delays in Australia, the No. 1 exporter of metallurgical coal, sparking a jump in coal prices.
[Last modified February 8, 2008, 21:47:37]