- The Washington Times - Monday, December 26, 2005

National

UAmazon.com Inc., the world’s biggest online retailer, said holiday sales worldwide set a record this year on demand for Apple Computer Inc.’s IPod music players, video games and jewelry. Shoppers bought more than 108 million items between Nov. 1 and Christmas, Amazon said without providing revenue figures. The busiest single day was Dec. 12, when customers ordered 3.6 million items.

UNew York City businesses lost $1 billion in revenue during the three-day transit strike last week, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

UIsle of Capri Casino Inc., which owns casinos in Louisiana, Iowa and Missouri, said it reopened its land-based casino in Biloxi, Miss., which was shut because of damage from Hurricane Katrina in August.

UAlpharma Inc., a New Jersey maker of antibiotics and livestock pharmaceuticals, said it will pay about $405 million in January to wipe out its debt.

U”King Kong” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” battled for the four-day box office crown, with the giant ape finally swiping the Christmas holiday prize. A Sunday-night surge gave Universal’s “King Kong” the needed push for the No. 1 spot over the Friday-through-Monday period with $31.4 million, edging Buena Vista’s “Chronicles of Narnia” with an estimated $30.1 million take.

UJoining the trend of TV shows migrating to the Internet, a pair of episodes from the CBS comedies “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” are being offered for free video streaming this week from the Yahoo Web site (www.yahoo.com). The half-hour shows, which aired earlier this season, will be available through Monday in their entirety and without commercials, CBS and Yahoo announced.

International

UJapan’s benchmark stock index topped 16,000 points, reaching its highest level since October 2000. The Nikkei 225 index rose 166.30 points, or 1.04 percent, to finish the day’s trading at 16,107.67 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. In currency trading, the dollar hovered near 116.42 yen on the Tokyo foreign exchange market, up 0.10 yen from late Friday in New York. The euro fell to $1.1856 from $1.1862 late Friday in New York. U.S. markets were closed yesterday for the Christmas holiday.

USeven & I Holdings Co. Ltd., owner of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan and the United States, said it will pay $1.13 billion to buy Millennium Retailing Inc. to add Japan’s Seibu and Sogo department stores to its retail network and create Japan’s biggest retailer. Seven & I will complete the transaction in two steps, first buying a 65 percent stake in Millennium now held by Nomura Principal Finance, then buying the remaining 35 percent directly from Millennium in a stock swap by June.

UCitigroup Inc., the world’s biggest bank, agreed to quadruple its stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co. to the maximum permitted in return for the chance to invest in other Chinese lenders. The purchase, which will increase Citigroup’s stake to 19.9 percent from 4.6 percent, might cost the U.S. lender as much as $878 million based on the number of outstanding shares.

UFuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. will buy the inkjet unit of Britain’s Avecia Group unit for $260 million to become the world’s biggest supplier of dye and inks used in inkjet printers.

USamsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, confirmed that it is in talks with Sony Corp. to supply Nand flash memory chips. The Korea Economic Daily reported that the chip maker is negotiating with Sony to provide its Nand flash chips on a long-term basis, citing an unnamed company official. The order amount is expected to be more than a fifth of Samsung’s total Nand flash output, the report said.

UToyota Motor Corp. said it won’t raise workers’ base wages next year, opting instead to rely on bonuses. The average worker’s bonus last year was $21,000.

UThe Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia agreed to hold annual ministerial meetings starting next year in an effort to improve oil market transparency and infrastructure. OPEC President Sheik Ahmad Fahd al-Ahmad al-Sabah and Russian Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko met in Moscow to discuss how Russia can best represent the interests of oil producers when it takes over the Group of Eight leadership next year, a ministry spokesman said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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