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Business today

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001

JOBLESS CLAIMS FALL: New claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to 352,000 for the week ended Feb. 10, the Labor Department said. A week earlier claims rose to 363,000, the highest level this year. Claims so far this year have averaged 338,000 -- up from 2000's weekly average of 302,500 -- suggesting businesses are cutting workers to reduce costs and that the unemployment rate may increase in the months ahead, analysts said. The four-week moving average rose to 345,000 last week from 333,000.

DIAMOND DEAL: A group led by mining giant Anglo American PLC has reached an agreement to buy De Beers, the world's largest diamond company, for about $17.6-billion in cash and stock. Anglo American and De Beers are already linked with each owning about one-third of the other. The deal is seen as a way to simplify that complex arrangement while extending Anglo American's exposure in diamond mining. De Beers annually mines over 30-million carats of diamonds -- almost half of the world production.

DELL CUTS STAFF: Dell Computer Corp. said it would cut 1,700 full-time positions, the first layoffs in the company's 16-year history. The cuts amount to about 4 percent of its worldwide work force. The company also reported fourth-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, a penny short of expectations once one-time items are excluded. On a net basis, Dell's income was $434-million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $436-million, or 16 cents per share, a year ago. Dell shares rose $2.06, or 9 percent, to $25 in regular trading.

CUTBACKS AT CNBC: CNBC is laying off 4 percent of its staff as part of a belt-tightening drive, and an additional 26 jobs are being lost at as the financial news network combines the online unit with its television operations. The elimination of 19 jobs at CNBC were part of a companywide cost-cutting implemented at NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., in response to a sharp slowdown in advertising sales. The cuts leave CNBC with a staff of 500.

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