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Business today

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001

FACTORY ORDERS JUMP: New orders placed at U.S. manufacturers rose 1.7 percent in November, reversing a revised 4 percent decrease in October. Driving the gain was increased demand for jetliners and electronic components, the Commerce Department reported. Inventories at U.S. factories, a gauge of demand, rose 0.5 percent in November after rising 0.7 percent in October.

JOBLESS CLAIMS CLIMB: The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for state unemployment benefits climbed last week to a 21/2-year high, the Labor Department said. Initial jobless claims rose by 16,000 to 375,000 in the week ended Dec. 30, the highest since 384,000 claims were filed the week ended July 4, 1998. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 352,250 from 347,000, also the highest since July 1998.

FLORIDA LEADS NATION IN JOB GROWTH: Florida boasts the highest per capita job-growth rate in the nation, according to November employment figures. Florida's total nonagricultural employment rose by 3.8 percent from a year ago to 7.3-million jobs in November 2000. Tom McGurk, director of the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation, said service industry jobs continued to grow faster than any other area, accounting for two-thirds of the state's new jobs last year. The state's unemployment rate in November was 3.6 percent, below the national unemployment rate of 4 percent. Of the state's civilian labor force of 7.6-million, only 270,000 Floridians were out of a job.

DANKA, KINKO'S FORM PACT: Danka Business Systems, trying to forge a comeback, has broadened its relationship with copying chain Kinko's Inc., signing a contract to provide another $38-million worth of color copiers over the next four months. The new contract for Canon equipment builds upon a previous deal announced in March. St. Petersburg-based Danka is struggling to fend off creditors and return to profitability. The company lost $60.2-million, or $1.08 a share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

MORE CUTS AT XEROX: Xerox Corp. is moving production of a line of digital office-equipment products to a plant in Mexico and cutting about 200 union jobs at its manufacturing hub in suburban Rochester, N.Y. The layoffs will be completed by February. Xerox is undergoing an overhaul to trim $1-billion in annual costs. Since October, Xerox has eliminated 3,200 jobs. The company currently employs about 94,000 people worldwide. Xerox closed at $6.13, up 88 cents.

JEEP CHEROKEE PRODUCTION TO END: DaimlerChrysler AG said it will stop building the Jeep Cherokee, the 18-year-old model that helped make sport utilities the vehicle of choice for affluent U.S. consumers. DaimlerChrysler will stop building the Cherokee by midyear, shortly after it introduces the Liberty, a smaller sport utility. Cherokee sales fell 14 percent to 141,457 last year. It's the first model jettisoned since the automaker moved to cut costs after its Chrysler unit lost about $1.2-billion last quarter.

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