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Business Business

Posted on Tue, Sep. 23, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Davis-Besse begins delayed 7-day test

It took longer than expected, but the critical seven-day test of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant coolant system is finally under way.

After several days of delays caused by minor equipment malfunctions, the so-called pressure test, which looks for coolant leaks, began about 6 p.m. Sunday, owner First-Energy Corp. reported.

On Monday, the reactor temperature hit more than 500 degrees and 2,155 pounds per square inch of pressure. Also Monday, employees began the first visual inspection of the reactor. A final inspection of the reactor will take place three days after the test concludes.

Provided the reactor passes the test, the plant could be ready to restart in four to six weeks, pending approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, FirstEnergy said. The troubled Davis-Besse plant has not been allowed to operate since shutting down in February 2002.

GM vehicles probed for steering defect

The federal government is investigating a possible steering defect that could affect 714,000 General Motors Corp. vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it has received 357 complaints that the steering in the vehicles locked up or lost power. In some cases, the vehicles became difficult to steer while making left turns.

The vehicles involved were built between Jan. 1, 1996, and Oct. 31, 1997, NHTSA said. They are: the 1996-98 Buick Regal; 1997-98 Buick Century; 1996-98 Chevrolet Lumina and Monte Carlo; 1996-97 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme; and 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue.

GM spokesman Jim Schell said the company is cooperating with the probe.

T-bill rates edge up to high since Sept. 2

Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities rose in Monday's auction.

The Treasury Department sold $15 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.935 percent, up from 0.930 percent last week. An additional $15 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 1.010 percent, up from 0.995 percent.

Both the three-month and six-month rates were the highest since Sept. 2, when the bills sold for 0.970 percent and 1.040 percent, respectively.

Sears in deal to sell National Tire to TBC

Sears Roebuck & Co., moving to concentrate on its department stores, said Monday it had agreed to sell its National Tire & Battery unit to TBC Corp. for $260 million.

National Tire & Battery has 226 locations nationwide. TBC's purchase, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, will increase its locations by 25 percent to 1,144. TBC is a Memphis-based distributor of private-brand tires.

Shares of TBC climbed $2.57, or 11 percent, to close at $25.32 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Shares of Sears, which is based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., ended down 23 cents at $45.61 on the New York Stock Exchange.

AK Steel's reshuffle adds interim CFO

AK Steel Corp. appointed an interim chief financial officer Monday as it continued the management overhaul it started last week when the company parted ways with its top two executives.

Albert E. Ferrara Jr., 55, the new financial officer, joined AK Steel in June as director of strategic planning. He also has worked for steel makers NS Group Inc. and USX Corp.

AK Steel's stock fell 5 cents to close at $2.27 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Isabel insurance claims stream in

Thousands of claims have streamed in to insurers as residents make their way back to their waterlogged and wind-blown homes after Hurricane Isabel.

Insured property losses from the storm could exceed $1 billion, which would make it one of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co., the nation's largest personal lines insurer, reported more than 28,000 personal auto and home claims in a nine-state area, said Mary Beth Cramer, a State Farm spokeswoman. Allstate Corp. reported similar numbers.

Univision gets FCC's approval to buy rival

The government on Monday approved Univision Communications Inc.'s $3.1 billion purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., letting the nation's largest Spanish-language media conglomerate add 66 of the 68 radio stations.

Federal Communications Commission members voted 3-2 to accept the deal; the three Republicans outvoted the two Democrats, who contended the merger would hurt competition and limit entertainment and news choices for Spanish-speaking Americans.

Univision already owns the Univision and TeleFutura TV networks; the Galavision cable network; and 50 television stations nationwide. With the merger, Univision would have the top Spanish-language broadcast TV network, cable channel, record label, Internet site and radio network, as well as the largest group of television and radio stations.

Citigroup program to aid home buyers

Citigroup is launching a $200 billion program to help moderate- and low-income families buy homes. The program will include mortgages with low down payments, reduced closing costs and help for those with bad credit. As many as 2 million buyers could participate by 2010.

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