- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Regional

• Another Chinese agency is in talks about possibly buying stakes in U.S.-based private equity funds following a $3 billion investment in the Blackstone Group this year, the Financial Times reported. The Social Security Fund, which manages money for China’s government pension and welfare programs, has talked to District-based Carlyle Group, KKR and TPG about buying a nearly 10 percent stake, the Financial Times said.

Under Armour Inc., the Baltimore maker of athletic wear, said third-quarter net income rose 25 percent to $20 million (40 cents a share) from a year ago. Revenue climbed 46 percent to $186.9 million on strong demand for its training tops and leggings.

Sirius Satellite Radio narrowed its loss in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 as it continued to add subscribers and said it still hopes to close its deal to combine with XM Satellite Radio of the District by the end of the year. The New York company lost $120.1 million (8 cents) per share, compared with a loss of $162.9 million (12 cents) a year ago.

• Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris USA, the Richmond maker of top-selling Marlboro cigarettes, sued Lorillard Tobacco, the maker of the Newport brand, claiming that its “M” trademark is being copied. Lorillard, a unit of Loews Corp., filed an application in February with the Patent and Trademark Office to use the marks “M Newport Blend” and “M Newport Blend The Way To Chill” on its packaging.

• A Western Maryland couple is ending their lawsuit claiming Wal-Mart Stores Inc. deceived customers by selling music recordings containing explicit lyrics without parental advisory labels. Trevin and Melanie Skeens, of Brownsville, will let lapse the civil lawsuit they filed in 2004, said their attorney, Jon D. Pels of Bethesda.

AOL, Time Warner Inc.’s Sterling, Va., Internet unit, can reach more users than Web portals run by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Chief Executive Officer Randy Falco said. Mr. Falco, who took the helm in November, is cutting 20 percent of AOL’s staff as it drops subscriber fees to attract users.

National

• Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said relying on a falling currency to stoke exports isn’t a “sound approach” and urged economic policy changes that would strengthen the dollar. “The lower the exchange rate, the less that we receive in exchange for what we produce, and that lowers our standard of living,” Mr. Rubin said.

• The dollar approached another record low against the euro after a report showed U.S. consumer confidence fell this month to the weakest point in two years. Traders also pushed the dollar to a 26-year low versus the British pound. The dollar traded at $1.4433 per euro in New York, and as low as $2.0694 per pound, the lowest since May 1981.

Oil futures retreated from record highs on word that Mexican oil production is returning to normal and on expectations that a government report will show crude supplies grew last week. Gasoline prices, however, jumped overnight at the pump and have now risen nearly 12 cents in the past two weeks to an average price of $2.875. Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell $3.15 to settle at $90.13 a barrel.

• Shareholders of Applebee’s International Inc. approved a $1.9 billion offer from pancake house operator IHOP Corp. to buy the casual-dining chain. Shareholders of Overland Park, Kan.-based Applebee’s will be paid $25.50 per share. Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP is also assuming $155 million in Applebee’s debt as part of the deal.

Hartford Life Insurance misplaced three backup tapes containing sensitive personal information on an unknown number of Ohio consumers, state insurance regulators said. The company says the data security breach was discovered Sept. 27. State Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson has asked for further information on the number of Ohioans affected and the date the company determined sensitive information was involved.

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission said that a unilateral recall of lead-tainted toy animals by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lacked some information that consumers need, including how many toys were sold, when they were sold and at what other retailers. A spokeswoman said the agency prefers that companies work with it to produce comprehensive recall announcements.

• About one out of every eight veterans under the age of 65 is uninsured, a finding that contradicts an assumption by many that all vets qualify for free health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, says a new study. Researchers at Harvard Medical School projected that 1.8 million veterans lack health coverage, mostly because they are ineligible for VA care because of their middle-class incomes.

Apple Inc. sold more than 2 million copies of its Leopard software in the first weekend on sale, outpacing early orders for the previous version of its Macintosh computer operating system. Leopard, released Friday, includes features for organizing and sharing files and software that lets Mac users run Microsoft Corp.’s rival Windows operating system.

Wyeth, the largest maker of hormone-replacement medicines used during menopause, won dismissal of a lawsuit linking its Premarin and Prempro drugs to breast cancer. Hennepin County Judge George F. McGunnigle in Minneapolis granted Wyeth’s motion to throw out the case, ruling that a woman who blamed the drugs for her breast cancer failed to offer any “scientifically valid evidence” supporting her claim, the company said.

International

• U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. pushed India to accelerate the opening of its financial markets. Mr. Paulson, who attended a conference of business leaders and met with government officials in Bombay, said India has moved along the right path in opening its economy but needs to pick up the pace.

• Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said China’s stock market is a speculative bubble that he expects will burst. Asked whether China was in a state of “irrational exuberance,” a phrase Mr. Greenspan made famous in 1996, the former chairman said, “I think so,” speaking in Boston. “When you don’t expect it, it breaks,” he said of the bubble.

• Two Americans are taking Canada to court under the North American Free Trade Agreement for losses they incurred when the federal government decided a year ago to tax income trusts. The Chicago couple, Marvin and Elaine Gottlieb, charge that Canada targeted Americans when they imposed the new measures and this is not allowed under NAFTA.

• Former French Premier Dominique de Villepin insisted he was unaware of problems at Airbus before their official disclosure in June 2006, a revelation that sparked a plunge in the share price of Airbus parent EADS as well as prompted an insider trading probe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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