Try 1 month for $5

Friday, May 9, 2003

House passes jobs training bill WASHINGTON — Religious groups that receive federal funds to provide job training services could refuse to hire workers with different beliefs under legislation the House passed Thursday.

The measure, which passed 220-204, is part of the reauthorization of the 1998 Workforce Investment Act, which provides $6.6 billion in job training programs and services to more than 19 million people through One-Stop Career Centers. They are federal, state and local partnerships.

That law now prohibits religious groups that receive grants from discriminating in hiring based on religion. But Republicans removed that provision in the new plan.

President Bush, as part of his faith-based initiative, signed an executive order in December allowing religious groups to receive federal contracts even if they base hiring decisions on religion. Republicans want the new legislation to reflect that.

Comcast posts wider loss for 1st quarter PHILADELPHIA — Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable television systems company, said Thursday that its loss widened to $297 million in the first quarter despite rising revenues that reflected its acquisition last year of AT&T's cable business.

The loss amounted to 13 cents a share in the January-March period compares to a net loss of $89 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period of 2002.

Comcast became the nation's biggest cable company last November when it acquired AT&T's cable division for $29 billion. It now has more than 21 million subscribers in 41 states, including Colorado.

Revenues climbed to $5.52 billion from $2.67 billion a year ago. Its revenue was up a more modest 9.7 percent from $5.03 billion if the AT&T deal were completed by Jan. 1, 2002.

Retailers report sluggish April sales NEW YORK — The arrival of Easter and the winding down of the war in Iraq couldn't lift retailers out of their slump in April — consumers still nervous about jobs curbed their spending for yet another month.

As the nation's largest retailers reported their monthly sales Thursday, department stores again languished, hurt in part by cool weather that stalled sales of spring clothing. Discounters fared better, but even their results were mixed.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, late Wednesday reported slightly lower-than-expected sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales.

Among the companies reporting Thursday, Kohl's Corp. also had same-store sales that were below analysts' expectations. The retailer cut its first-quarter earnings forecast.

One big bright spot was Gap Inc., which continued its comeback, reporting a same-store sales surge almost double what analysts had expected. Same-store sales — sales at stores open at least a year — are considered the best measure of a retailer's strength. The apparel chain also boosted its earnings estimate for the first quarter.

Jobless claims point to sluggish market WASHINGTON — Fewer workers sought unemployment benefits last week, but the level of new claims remained high, another sign that cautious companies are keeping their work forces lean amid a muddled postwar economic climate.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for jobless benefits dropped by a seasonally adjusted 28,000 to 425,000 for the work week ending May 3. Even with that decline, claims have been running above the 400,000 mark — a level associated with a stagnant job market — for 12 straight weeks.

The more stable, four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths out week to week fluctuations, rose by 3,250 last week to 446,000. That represented the highest level in more than a year.

Stocks trade lower on sluggish sales NEW YORK — Sluggish retail sales gave investors more incentive to cash in profits from Wall Street's recent rally Thursday and send stocks lower for a second consecutive session.

Disappointing results from such retailers as Kohl's, which also issued a profit warning, contributed to the market's declines. But some pullback was still to be expected after weeks of gains made as companies reported surprisingly strong first-quarter earnings results. Despite the two-day slippage, analysts said the mood on Wall Street remains upbeat.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 69.41, or 0.8 percent, at 8,491.22, according to preliminary calculations. On Wednesday, the Dow lost 27.73.

The broader market also retreated for a second day. The NASDAQ composite index fell 17.07, or 1.1 percent, to 1,489.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 9.35, or 1 percent, to 920.27.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.