Arms inspectors head to Saddam’s hometown
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 2 (UPI) — International weapons inspectors in Iraq Thursday headed for the first time to Takrit, hometown of President Saddam Hussein, and also paid a surprise visit to a Baghdad printing house. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said the inspectors would fail to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq however long they look. “The inspectors will not find any kind of weapons (of mass destruction) no matter how long their inspection operations in Iraq will be,” Aziz told a delegation of some 140 Spanish activists, the fifth such team to visit Baghdad in six months.
Wounded, slain missionaries leave Yemen
SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 2 (UPI) — American missionary Donald Caswell, wounded in Monday’s attack on a Yemeni hospital, headed home Thursday with the body of colleague Kathy Gariety, Yemeni sources reported. Two other Baptist missionaries, also American, were buried by request on the hospital’s grounds in Jibla after being fatally shot by an alleged Muslim extremist.
Document: U.K. plan to cede land to Dublin
LONDON, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Britain considered 30 years ago ceding Roman Catholic-dominated parts of Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic to try to halt the violence that killed nearly 500 people in one year, newly released official documents showed. In addition to redrawing the map of Ireland, the 1972 plan also proposed that some 300,000 Catholics be shifted from Northern Ireland into areas to be handed over to the republic and that about 200,000 Protestants would be moved from the ceded regions into a newly formed Northern Ireland.
Seoul in diplomatic campaigns over nuke
SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 2 (UPI) — South Korea and China Thursday agreed to work to defuse tensions created by North Korea’s moves to acquire nuclear weapons, sources told United Press International. Meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, South Korea’s deputy foreign minister urged Beijing to put more pressure on its ally, North Korea, to halt its weapons program, officials in Seoul said. Lee, who was visiting Beijing to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear issue, conveyed Seoul’s stance that North Korea’s expression of willingness to give up its uranium enrichment program should be the starting point in settling the crisis, the official said.
U.S. auto industry stuck in 2-year rut
DETROIT, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Despite sales-boosting buyer incentives, nearly one-third of auto industry executives expect American carmakers to struggle for profits through 2005 as they lose market share to Asian and European manufacturers. A global study by the accounting and tax firm KPMG LLP, based on interviews with 100 industry leaders, found 30 percent said profitability likely won’t reach 2000 levels for at least two years. Executives weren’t as pessimistic last year when 36 percent forecast that 2003 would likely be the most profitable year, while 24 percent thought 2004 would be more profitable for the industry.
JP Morgan settles with Enron insurers
NEW YORK, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Investment bank JP Morgan stated Thursday it reached a settlement with 10 of the 11 insurers it sued as a consequence of its dealings with collapsed energy giant Enron Corp. The bank had differed with the insurance companies about contracts that guaranteed Enron’s obligations to prepaid commodity forward contracts. Liberty Mutual remains the sole insurance company not accepting the settlement. Under the agreement, the insurers will pay about 60 percent of the surety bonds they wrote, JP Morgan announced in a statement.
Manufacturing sector posts growth
NEW YORK, Jan. 2 (UPI) — The Institute for Supply Management Thursday said economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew for the first time in four months during December. The group’s much-watched manufacturing index jumped 5.5 points to 54.7 in December from 49.2 in November and 48.5 in October. Economists were expecting the index to improve to 50 during the month. The index has been under 50, signaling contraction, since September. The index is closely watched on Wall Street because a reading below the key 50-level indicates the sector comprising one-fifth of the economy is shrinking. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.
Manufacturing report lifts stocks
NEW YORK, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Prices on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market were sharply higher early Thursday afternoon in moderate post-holiday trading as investors shook off the gloom of 2002 and focused on a favorable reading on the manufacturing sector of the economy. Markets had a difficult 2002 as the Dow industrials dropped nearly 17 percent for the year, the Dow’s worst annual performance since 1977. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average, which added 8.78 points Tuesday, was up 214.81 points, or 2.58 percent, to 8,556.44. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, which slipped 4.03 points in the previous session, was ahead 37.90 points, or 2.84 percent, to 1,373.41.