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Business today

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001


JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE: New claims for state unemployment insurance increased by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 431,000 for the work week ended Sept. 8. The Labor Department reported that the total number of laid-off workers drawing unemployment benefits continued to climb, hitting almost 3.35-million -- levels not seen in nearly a decade. The more stable four-week moving average, which smoothes out week-to-week fluctuations, increased by 11,500 to 411,000, the highest level since mid-July.

FLIGHT ATTENDANTS OKAY CONTRACT: American Airlines flight attendants approved by 96 percent a new, six-year contract that will make them the highest paid among U.S. carriers. The Association for Professional Flight Attendants, which represents more than 23,000 attendants, said 17,182 of its members voted for the new agreement. The contract, reached hours before a midnight strike deadline June 30, provides an immediate 9.2 percent pay increase and cumulative raises of 25.7 percent over its term.

GREETING CARD DEAL: American Greetings Corp. said its online unit has bought BlueMountain.com from Excite@Home for $35-million. The deal comes about two years after Exite@Home paid $780-million for BlueMountain Arts during the height of the dot-com boom. BlueMountain.com, which offers free, animated and musical greeting cards online, is expected to help AmericanGreetings.com attract more than 100-million visitors to its sites each year. American Greetings said the deal will not affect its online subsidiary's goal of becoming profitable by the fourth quarter and should enhance profits overall.

BAYER KEEPS DRUG UNIT: Bayer AG said it would not sell its embattled pharmaceuticals unit after all, and it named chief financial officer Werner Wenning, not an outsider, to be its next chief executive. Wenning will succeed Manfred Schneider as CEO. Last month, the German pharmaceutical company voluntarily withdrew the anti-cholesterol drug Baycol, marketed as Lipobay in many countries, after it was linked to more than 50 deaths worldwide.

MICROSOFT FILINGS EXTENDED: A federal judge gave Microsoft and government prosecutors an extra four days to file a joint report recommending a timetable and issues to be addressed in Microsoft's antitrust case. The status report was initially due Friday, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly agreed to give the parties until noon Tuesday in light of this week's terrorist attacks in Washington and New York. A federal appeals court ruled in June that Microsoft had violated antitrust laws in a number of ways, including linking its fledgling Internet Explorer browser with its dominant Windows operating system to squeeze out competitors.

ADOBE DELAYS EARNINGS REPORT: Publishing software giant Adobe Systems Inc. postponed its third-quarter earnings report, citing the East Coast terrorist attacks and stock market closures. The San Jose, Calif., company said it will release the report Wednesday.

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