Business briefs 12/30/03

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Missouri group drops efforts for tax proposal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Supporters of a tough-times tax proposal have abandoned efforts to get it on the August 2004 ballot, citing a lack of both public support and campaign cash. The proposal for a temporary state sales tax had been approved for petition circulation, but supporters said Monday they would not even try to gather the signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot. In a public opinion poll in July, about 65 percent of the respondents indicated they would definitely or probably vote for a generically described temporary sales tax increase for education and health care. But in a December follow-up poll, just 50 percent of people responded favorably when they were read the specific ballot language.

Wall Street extends 2003 advance

NEW YORK -- The Nasdaq composite index burst past 2,000 on Monday, and the Dow Jones industrials surged more than 120 points as investors shook off concerns about the impact of mad cow disease and looked optimistically toward 2004. The market also got a lift from early indications that the holiday shopping season had gone well, including a report from MasterCard that consumer spending was up 6.5 percent. Portfolio managers may be looking for more positive news in January, which is typically a good month for the markets, said Brian Bush, director of equity research at Stephens Inc.

-- From wire reports

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