Car buying sees steep decline in January

Friday, February 13, 2004

WASHINGTON -- A steep decline in car buying depressed sales at the nation's retailers by 0.3 percent last month, although consumers continued spending heartily in less expensive ways. The overall decline -- the first since September -- was reported by the Commerce Department Thursday. It largely reflected a sharp drop in sales of automobiles. When auto sales are removed, sales at all other merchants rose by a strong 0.9 percent in January -- the biggest gain in five months.

Cancer drug in Stewart scandal gets approval

WASHINGTON -- Erbitux, the drug at the center of the Martha Stewart stock scandal, won government approval Thursday as a treatment for colorectal cancer patients who have run out of other options. Erbitux is one of a new class of cancer medicines designed to specifically target and disrupt certain molecules that spur tumor growth. Manufacturer ImClone Systems initially sought FDA approval in 2001. But the agency in December of that year said the company's studies were poorly done.

Eastman Kodak offers six new cameras

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Eastman Kodak Co., which sold more digital cameras in the United States during the end-of-year holiday season than any of its Japanese rivals, introduced six new camera models Thursday in hopes of surpassing top-ranked Sony Corp. this year. Kodak is scrambling to make the transition from film to digital photography after getting blind-sided by the swift rise in popularity of digital cameras.

Feds: Tires improve resistance to wear

WASHINGTON -- Tires are better at resisting wear than they were in 2000, when Firestone recalled millions of tires that were prone to lose their tread and blow out, according to federal data released Thursday. Six percent of tires rated between a 500 and a 600 on resisting wear this year, meaning they can last four to six times longer than a basic tire, and at least 25 tires had a rating of 700 or higher. In 2000, there were hardly any tires with a 600 and no tires with a 700.

Aetna improves earnings for fourth quarter

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Aetna reported Thursday its fourth-quarter earnings surged, beating Wall Street expectations and said it was ready to start increasing its customer base again. Its shares surged more than 4.5 percent. The health insurer, which has shed employees and business and struggled to mend fences with doctors, said it expected to add as many as 700,000 new customers in 2004.

-- From wire reports

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