UPI NewsTrack Business

July 22, 2004 at 5:46 PM
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U.S. stocks close slightly higher

NEW YORK, July 22 (UPI) -- Bargain hunters moved in after the morning's big selloff to enable U.S. markets to close on a modest upward swing Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrials closed up 4.20 points, or 0.04 percent, at 10,050.33, while the Nasdaq composite rose 14.69, or 0.78 percent, to 1,889.06. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index grew 2.96, or 0.27 percent, to 1,096.64.

Oil prices, meanwhile, settled at $41.36 a barrel.

Bonds moved up. The 10-year Treasury note rose less than 1/8 point, or $1.25 for each $1,000 invested. The yield, which moves inversely to price, fell to 4.459 percent.

The dollar was mixed. It traded at 109.73 yen, off from 109.89, while the euro fell against the dollar to $1.2250 from $1.2257.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims decreased by 11,000 to 339,000 in the week that ended July 17.

Nations agree on private-pension framework

PARIS, July 22 (UPI) -- A Paris-based multinational organization Thursday released a blueprint for private pensions in industrialized countries.

The 30 member governments in the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development agreed on six core principles to protect employee pensions.

The principles cover topics from the funding of company pension arrangements to protection of the rights of beneficiaries.

The OECD is also working on other pension-related issues such as pension fund governance and financial education.

OECD made several recommendations, among them that companies should make sure pension assets fully cover potential liabilities, and that companies should create separate legal entities for their pension funds. This will help to ensure, for example, that if a company goes bankrupt, the pension funds of its employees remain safe.

OECD also suggested companies should not put their own shares in their pension portfolios, employees moving from one company to another should be able to transfer funds contributed by employees as well as by employers.

Other suggestions included employees be given a broad range of investment choices if they must do their own investing, and companies should regularly inform their employees about the status of their pension funds.

Postal Service scores 96 for delivery

WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Postal Service said Thursday 96 percent of all the local mail it handled in the third quarter was delivered overnight.

The Postal Service said it scored the best overnight delivery score ever in the history of the external first-class mail, or EXFC, measurement program.

The EXFC assessment, which is measured independently by IBM Consulting Services, was announced during the Postal Service's board of governors meeting in San Francisco.

Postmaster General Jack Potter called the achievement "a great team effort" by Postal Service employees. Saying he was proud of every employee, he called them "the best service team" in the delivery business.

Chief Operating Officer Pat Donahoe said the achievement was accomplished "by staying focused on the basics -- collecting, processing, transporting and delivering the mail."

The third quarter measurement, running from April 1 through June 30, builds on 21 consecutive quarters of scores at 93/94 percent and five consecutive quarters at 95 percent.

The report provides an independent assessment of the time it takes a piece of first-class mail, once it's deposited into a collection box, to be delivered to one of more than 142 million American homes, businesses and Post Office boxes.

AT&T to stop consumer sales

BEDMINSTER, N.J., July 22 (UPI) -- AT&T Corp. of Bedminster, N.J., Thursday said it would shift its focus away from residential telephone services to business markets.

AT&T said last month it would no longer try to recruit new traditional local and long-distance voice customers in seven U.S. states. Additionally, nearly 75 percent of the company's revenue is from business customers, AT&T said.

AT&T said it is making the shift because of high costs.

The nation's largest long-distance phone provider said existing users will still receive service but the company will focus on winning new business customers and building its Internet-based calling network.

AT&T Chief Executive Officer David Dorman described the decision as a historic shift for the company in an industry AT&T has dominated for a century.

The decision came after the Bush administration said it wouldn't back AT&T's effort to wage a Supreme Court battle to keep in place regulations that let AT&T rent competitors' networks at discounted rates set by regulators.


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