- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

Regional

U Virgin Atlantic Airways said it will begin a second daily flight from Washington Dulles International Airport with service to London’s Heathrow Airport. The service will operate from Sunday to Oct. 25, and will offer more flexibility and additional flight options for Washingtonians traveling to Britain.

U Danaher Corp., the Washington-based maker of measurement devices and Craftsman tools, said first-quarter earnings rose 8.5 percent on higher sales of its water-testing equipment and medical instruments. Net income increased to $276.5 million (83 cents) from $254.8 million (78 cents) a year earlier. Sales climbed 20 percent to $3.03 billion.

U Bethesda-based hotel giant Marriott International Inc. said first-quarter profit declined 34 percent, matching analysts’ estimates, after travelers booked fewer hotel rooms as the U.S. economy slowed. Net income fell to $121 million (33 cents) a share from $182 million (44 cents) a year earlier.

U Capital One Financial, the McLean credit-card lender whose customers failed to repay $4.16 billion last year, said first-quarter profit fell 19 percent as more borrowers defaulted on debts. Net income declined to $548.5 million ($1.47) from $675 million ($1.62) a year earlier. Profit from continuing operations was $1.70 a share, beating estimates.

U Ginnie Mae of the District said issuance of government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities rose to almost $15 billion last month, the most since November 2003. First-quarter sales more than doubled to $39.1 billion, boosted by the collapse of markets for other types of home-loan bonds.

U Amusement park operator Six Flags Inc. reported first-quarter sales that rose more than analysts estimated. The shares gained 7.8 percent. Sales jumped 35 percent to $68 million. Attendance increased 19 percent to about $1.4 million, boosted by the shift of the Easter holiday into the first quarter. Six Flags Chairman Dan Snyder owns the Washington Redskins.

National

U Continental Airlines slid to a first-quarter loss as fuel spending soared 53 percent, and profit for Southwest Airlines fell by two-thirds. Southwest’s earnings tumbled to $34 million (5 cents) in the January-to-March period. Revenue rose 15 percent. Continental lost $80 million (81 cents), compared with a profit of $22 million (21 cents) a year ago. Sales rose 12.3 percent.

U A Federal Reserve official said she expects final credit-card regulations aimed at protecting consumers to be rolled out by year’s end. Sandra Braunstein, the Federal Reserve’s director of consumer and community affairs, said the Fed would combine new regulations under the Truth in Lending Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.

U Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said he is hesitant to lower interest rates further. The central bank shouldn’t “compound the bad by repeating the oft-prescribed remedy of inflating our way out of our predicament with a wing-and-a-prayer promise that it can always be reined in later,” Mr. Fisher said.

U Billionaire George Soros said the boom in commodities is still in a “growth phase” after prices for oil, wheat and gold rose to records. “You have a generalized commodity bubble due to commodities having become an asset class that institutions use to an increasing extent,” Mr. Soros said. “On top of that you have specific factors that create [shortages].”

U Rice futures soared the most allowed by the Chicago Board of Trade, extending a rally to a record, as Turkey and the Philippines seek cargoes of the grain amid dwindling global supplies. Rice futures for May delivery rose by the limit of 75 cents, or 3.3 percent, to a record $23.30 per 100 pounds. The price has surged 11 percent this week.

U Tone Grant, the former president of Refco, was convicted by a U.S. jury of defrauding investors in the futures trader of $2.4 billion. Mr. Grant, 64, faces life in prison after a jury in Manhattan found him guilty of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

U Former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jack Welch acknowledged he made a mistake Wednesday with his televised comment that successor Jeffrey Immelt had a “credibility issue” after missing profit estimates. “Nothing, nothing, nothing is as disgusting to me as some old CEO chirping away about how things aren’t as good under the new guy as they were under him,” said Mr. Welch, 72.

U General Electric Co. agreed to buy most of Citigroup Inc.’s North American commercial lending and leasing unit, adding $13.4 billion in finance assets less than a week after an unexpected first-quarter profit decline. Terms weren’t disclosed for the acquisition of the seven equipment-financing lines from CitiCapital.

International

U Abu Dhabi is promising a newspaper comparable to the Wall Street Journal with the emirate’s new English-language daily that hit the streets yesterday. The paper, called the National, has substantial backing and respected Western journalists, but won’t have journalistic freedom. It is illegal to publish items that could foster dissent or harm state interests in the United Arab Emirates.

U Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, plans to spur Latin American sales by targeting 300 million low-income consumers who don’t shop in traditional stores. Wal-Mart sells some prescription drugs in Mexico for less than $3.72, and sold out of a small, artificial $1 Christmas tree in Brazil two weeks before the holiday.

U News Corp.’s MySpace social-networking Web site opened in India, expanding its presence to 27 countries. MySpace India caters to local users with shows such as “Campus Star,” a TV program created with Star TV, also owned by New York-based News Corp., the Web site said. India is the second market entered by MySpace this week, after South Korea.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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