Business digest 10/05/04

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Factory orders down for first time in four months

WASHINGTON -- Orders placed with U.S. factories fell for the first time in four months, the Commerce Department said Monday, with demand dropping sharply for commercial airplanes and parts. Factory orders declined by 0.1 percent in August, following an increase of 1.7 percent in July. August's drop was the first since April, when orders declined by 1.1 percent. Economists had expected an August increase of about 0.3 percent. Orders for durable goods -- costly manufactured items expected to last at least three years -- fell by 0.3 percent. That was better than a previous estimate of a 0.5 percent drop.

Anheuser-Busch to debut beer with herbal additives

ST. LOUIS -- Looking to add oomph to a beer segment that has gone a bit flat, Anheuser-Busch hopes to give its bottom line a boost with a new concoction -- a fruity-smelling beer, spiked with caffeine, herbal guarana and ginseng. The world's largest brewer said Monday its planned offering, B-to-the-E -- with the "E" denoting something "extra" and shown as an exponent of B -- should appeal to 20-something consumers craving something zippy. The St. Louis-based brewer said the new "beer" should debut in November.

Supreme Court sidesteps credit card dispute

WASHINGTON -- MasterCard and Visa no longer can block banks from issuing credit cards from competitors after the Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal Monday. Banks that issued MasterCard and Visa credit cards had been barred from also offering credit cards from other companies, such as Discover and American Express. The Bush administration argued in court filings that removing the restriction would encourage competition and lead to more choices and, possibly, lower interest rates for consumers. The administration had won in district court and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the restriction was anticompetitive. About 20,000 banks issue cards only through Visa and MasterCard.

Feds kick off consumer campaign for digital TV

WASHINGTON -- It's one of the biggest technical changes in television since color TV: the digital transition. And because many Americans remain in the dark about it, federal regulators began an education campaign Monday to enlighten them. Digital signals don't have "snow" or interference associated with traditional analog transmissions. Digital also allows broadcasters to offer sharper, movie-theater quality pictures available as high-definition television. To see those eye-popping pictures, however, viewers will need a high-definition television set, or HDTV. At a news conference, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell announced a new Web site -- -- to answer questions about digital TV. It will explain what viewers will need once broadcasters switch from transmitting analog signals to digital and list high-definition programming offered in local communities.

-- From wire reports

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