Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Business Digest

Oil prices shoot up above $30 a barrel

Oil prices soared above $30 a barrel for the first time since mid-April on Monday as lean supplies of crude and gasoline at the start of the summer driving season prompted a buying spree.

The price of crude for July delivery rose $1.15, or 4 percent, to $30.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

That's crude's highest level since April 21, when it closed at $30.87.

The wholesale price of unleaded gasoline rose 3.2 cents to 88.5 cents per gallon on Nymex.

PeopleSoft to buy rival J.D. Edwards

SAN FRANCISCO - Business software maker PeopleSoft Inc. said Monday it is buying rival J.D. Edwards & Co. in a $1.5 billion stock swap that unites two companies vying to snap out of a recent sales lull.

The deal will create the world's second-largest maker of software that helps businesses manage their personnel, supplies and other behind-the-scenes operations.

The combined company, which will retain the PeopleSoft name, will have about $2.8 billion in annual revenue, 13,000 employees and 11,000 customers in 150 countries.

Only Germany-based SAP will be larger in the business software niche known in corporate America as "enterprise applications."

Interest rates up a bit in T-bill auction

WASHINGTON - Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities rose in Monday's auction.

The Treasury Department sold $18 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 1.110 percent, up from 1.100 percent last week. An additional $18 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 1.095 percent, up from 1.080 percent.

The three-month rate was the highest since April 28 when the bills sold for 1.120 percent. The six-month rate was the highest since May 12 when the rate was 1.100 percent.

Spencer gift chain sold to investors

BOSTON - Vivendi Universal Inc. has agreed to sell its Spencer Gifts retail chain to an investment group led by retail specialists Gordon Brothers Group LLC and Palladin Capital Group Inc. for an undisclosed sum, the investor group said Monday.

The 700-unit gift-store chain, based in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., is among the first U.S. assets to be sold by the French media conglomerate, which needs to raise cash and reduce its debt.

Last month, the Paris-based concern announced plans to sell its U.S. crown jewel, Vivendi Universal Entertainment, and refocus the group on telecommunications.

American Stock Exchange to be sold

NEW YORK - The National Association of Securities Dealers, which oversees the Nasdaq Stock Market, has agreed to sell the century-old American Stock Exchange for $110 million to a Chicago-based private-equity firm, spokesmen for the Amex and the NASD said Monday.

The NASD signed a term sheet on Friday to sell the Amex market to the private-equity firm GTCR Golder Rauner LLC after nearly a year of talks.

VW workers strike, demand shorter week

ZWICKAU, Germany - Striking workers in former communist east Germany crippled production at a Volkswagen car plant Monday, joining thousands of others in their demand for shorter hours - even as the nation teeters on recession.

About 11,400 workers answered the strike call, labor union IG Metall said Monday, the first full day of a campaign aimed at cutting the work week for 320,000 factory employees in eastern Germany from 38 hours to 35 - the same as in the more affluent west.

IG Metall said the autos - many destined for export to the United States - would not roll off the production line again before Friday.

- Enquirer wire services

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Business Digest