Tuesday, August 09, 2005

News Scan A.M.: Oil Prices Hit Record $64.27 Per Barrel



News Scan
News Scan: Aug. 9, 2005

NEW YORK - Business, technology and wealth news:

Oil Prices Hit Record $64.27 Per Barrel
Crude futures climbed past the $64-per-barrel mark Tuesday, as the market continued to monitor events in Saudi Arabia after Britain and Australia warned of an increased threat of terror attacks there, a day after the U.S. closed its embassy and two consulates in the country, the world's top oil producer. Mid-afternoon in Singapore, benchmark light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange reached an intraday high of $64.27 per barrel.

UBS Q2 Profit Rises 5% On Higher Revenue
Banking giant UBS posted a second-quarter net profit of 2.15 billion Swiss francs ($1.71 billion) on Tuesday, up 5% from a year ago, on higher revenue, especially from its industrial holdings. The increase from 2.04 billion francs came on second-quarter revenue of 12.01 billion francs ($9.52 billion), compared with 10.22 billion francs in the year-earlier period. The company was optimistic about the full-year performance.

MCI Swings To Q2 Profit Of $64M
MCI, the telecommunications carrier being acquired by Verizon Communications, on Tuesday reported a return to profitability in the second quarter as lower expenses offset a decline in revenue. The long-distance carrier, which changed its name last year from WorldCom to get a fresh start from its failed past, reported quarterly earnings of $64 million, or 19 cents per share, up from a loss of $71 million, or 22 cents per share, last year.

EchoStar Q2 Earnings Surge On Tax Gain
EchoStar Communications, the nation's second-largest satellite television provider, on Tuesday reported a much higher second-quarter profit due mostly to a large, one-time tax gain as well as growth in revenue and subscribers. EchoStar, which is in fierce competition with DirecTV, reported a quarterly profit of $855.5 million, or $1.79 per share, up from $85.3 million, or 18 cents per share, in last year's second quarter.

Elan Shares Soar On Positive Tysabri Data
About 2,000 patients who took the suspended MS-fighting drug Tysabri have been screened for a deadly brain disease, but none showed signs of contracting it, the companies jointly developing the drug said Tuesday. Ireland's Elan and Biogen Idec of the U.S. said they were taking "preliminary steps" to resume clinical trials of Tysabri, which was withdrawn from the U.S. market on Feb. 28 amid fears its use could cause a rare brain disease.

SEC Charges Ex-Citigroup Execs With Fraud
Federal regulators on Monday charged two former executives of Citigroup with fraud in connection with alleged improprieties said to have garnered the financial services giant nearly $100 million at the expense of mutual fund shareholders. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it had filed a civil lawsuit against Thomas W. Jones and Lewis Daidone, saying that they were two of the company officials principally responsible for the alleged fraud.

Whirlpool Boosts Offer For Maytag
For a second time, Whirlpool has sweetened the pot in a bid to purchase rival Maytag, submitting a $20-per-share binding offer worth $1.62 billion plus assumed debt.

Wal-Mart Asks Court To Dismiss Bias Case
Wal-Mart Stores urged a federal appeals court Monday to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that female employees were discriminated against in pay and promotions. Wal-Mart is appealing a federal judge's decision to let the largest U.S. employment discrimination lawsuit go to trial. The suit claims that as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees earned less than men and were bypassed for promotions.

Quest Diagnostics To Acquire LabOne For $934M
Quest Diagnostics said Monday it plans to acquire LabOne in a deal worth $934 million. Quest, the leading U.S. medical-testing company, said it will pay LabOne stockholders $43.90 per share, a 16.6% premium to the LabOne's closing price of $37.64 on Friday. Quest said the price includes the settlement of about $132 million in LabOne's convertible debt.

E*Trade To Buy Harrisdirect In $700M Deal
Online brokerage E*Trade Financial said Monday that it agreed to acquire rival Harrisdirect in a $700 million deal as the online brokerage industry consolidates amid fierce price competition and declining customer activity. "When we look back three years ago, we'd talk about how there was a need for consolidation," said Jarrett Lilien, E-Trade's president and chief operating officer.

Earlier headlines

Bush Signs Huge Energy Bill Into Law

Pharma Insider Trading Probe Sought

Delphi, Visteon Post Losses

Stocks Close Down On Rising Oil

Ebony, Jet Publisher John H. Johnson Dies

Priceline.com Q2 Profit Beats Estimates

Yahoo! Expands Its Search Engine Index

Moller-Maersk Buys Kerr-McGee Assets

Four China Airlines Sign $5B Boeing Deal

Japan House Rejects Postal Reform Bills

Yahoo! In Talks On Record China Investment

ABC News' Peter Jennings Dies At 67

UFJ Swings To Quarterly Profit Of $1.5B

Former Chief Of Oil-For-Food Probe Resigns

News items can be submitted to Greg Levine at glevine@forbes.net or by calling him at (212) 366-8851.

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