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Around the business world

Daily Staff Report

Stocks fall a fourth day as rate worries linger: NEW YORK – Interest rate concerns sent stocks falling for a fourth straight session as investors continued fretting about higher lending costs choking demand and hurting the global economy. The death of a terrorist leader in Iraq pushed down oil prices, but the pullback did little to relieve uncertainty about inflation and interest rates.Oil prices sink again: NEW YORK – Oil prices sank for the third straight day, falling by more than $1 a barrel following the death of al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq and on concerns about global economic growth.World markets suffering: TOKYO – Stocks across Asia tumbled to their lowest levels in months in the wake of declines on Wall Street and amid anxiety that possible U.S. interest rates hikes will slow U.S. and global growth. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index tumbled 3 percent, while India’s benchmark Sensex index plunged 4.7 percent.Administration urged to bring trade case against China: WASHINGTON – The AFL-CIO and two members of Congress asked the Bush administration to pursue trade sanctions against China, accusing the Chinese of violating international labor standards and costing 1.24 million American jobs. The group alleged that China’s labor practices violate U.S. trade law, which makes repression of workers’ rights a violation that would be subject to economic sanctions if the U.S. wins a case on the issue before the World Trade Organization.Europe interest rates increase: PARIS – The European Central Bank raised its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.75 percent on in a move aimed at keeping inflation at bay.Smithfield cutting jobs as profit falls amid meat glut: RICHMOND, Va. – Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork processor, reported its profit plunged in its fourth quarter as bloated meat inventories in the United States hurt prices. The company also announced plans to close a plant in Madison, Fla., and consolidate two plants in Virginia. The restructuring moves could affect more than 600 employees.Federal law will require 260 more mine rescue teams at a cost to industry of $43 million: CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. coal companies will need to create, train and equip approximately 260 new mine rescue teams at an estimated cost of $43 million dollars to comply with new federal mining safety legislation.Fannie Mae executives in the crosshairs: NEW YORK – The government will pursue some Fannie Mae executives to recover bonus money they reaped in a deceptive accounting scheme if the mortgage giant itself fails to do so, a federal regulator says.First-quarter losses expected to deepen at slumping Sharper Image: SAN FRANCISCO – Slumping specialty retailer Sharper Image is expected to report after the closing bell that its first-quarter losses deepened. Management also is expected to update investors on a turnaround effort that is now being backed by unhappy shareholders who had threatened a rebellion until reaching a recent truce that gave them three seats on the company’s board.Texas governor wants to put more cameras along the border: EL PASO, Texas – The governor of Texas wants to turn the world into a virtual posse. Republican Rick Perry has announced a $5 million plan to install hundreds of night-vision cameras along the border and stream them live on the Internet so that anyone who spots something suspicious can report it on a toll-free hotline. Civil rights advocates call it a silly and dangerous idea.Cisco’s CEO Chambers to take on chairman duties: SAN JOSE, Calif. – Bucking the corporate trend of splitting chief executive and chairman roles, network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. says CEO John T. Chambers will succeed current Chairman John P. Morgridge when he steps aside on Nov. 15.Mexican politics open up, but business has yet to become competitive: MEXICO CITY – The presidency is up for grabs. Congress is anybody’s guess. But when it comes to Mexico’s business world, the big boys still rule. The July 2 elections will likely bring new ideas and policies to this emerging democracy, but few expect sweeping economic changes in Mexico, where the minimum wage is only $4.50 a day and both government and corporate giants are controlled by an almost tribal elite.After years of struggling economically, Germany uses World Cup to sell itself as land of innovation: BERLIN – Germans hope a month of World Cup soccer excitement will put some cash in business’ registers, and help the country shake off its international reputation as a stodgy economic giant mired in high labor costs and slow growth. The government has a $29 million marketing campaign plugging Germany as a “Land of Ideas” and a good place to invest.Former Zomax CEO convicted of insider trading: ST. PAUL, Minn. – The former chairman and chief executive officer of Zomax Inc. has been convicted of insider trading involving the sale of $6 million worth of company stock. Jim Anderson, who led the technology company in the mid-1990s, was convicted in federal court on six counts of insider trading and five counts of engaging in illegal monetary transactions. He resigned from Zomax in 2004.Vail, Colorado


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