Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Morning Briefs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Morning Briefs

Article excerpt

SERVICE ECONOMY EXPANDS IN APRIL

Data showing an unexpected expansion in the service sector in April raised hopes that the U.S. economy will be spared a sharp downturn even though many observers feel it is already in a mild recession.

Some analysts saw the report, coupled with Friday's better-than-expected job-loss numbers, as a sign the economy could muddle along, neither growing or declining dramatically.

"I don't see anything that indicates that activity is strong, I don't see anything that indicates it's very weak. We're teetering on the zero line," said Dan Meckstroth, chief economist of the Manufacturers Alliance, a trade group.

Others cautioned that Monday's service sector report by the Institute of Supply Management may be an aberration, because it deviated from data showing continued weakness in employment, automobile sales and chain-store sales.

Associated Press

MERCK TO CUT 1,200 SALES JOBS FOLLOWING SETBACKS

Drug developer Merck says it is cutting 1,200 sales jobs in the United States following a week of regulatory setbacks for two drug candidates.

The job cuts follow Food and Drug Administration rejections for the company's proposed allergy drug combining the active ingredients of Merck's Singulair and Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin.

The FDA also rejected the company's developing cholesterol drug Cordaptive, while publicly demanding the company clean up problems at its main vaccine plant.

In a statement, Merck & Co. says the new job cuts are part of its ongoing restructuring plan, while touting the string of successful product launches in 2006.

Associated Press

COUNTRYWIDE SHARES DOWN AMID BUYOUT DOUBT

Shares of Countrywide Financial Corp. tumbled Monday after one Wall Street analyst said Bank of America Corp. should abandon its proposed takeover of the struggling mortgage lender and another suggested the deal would likely be renegotiated for a lower price. …

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