The yield on the 30-year Treasury, a benchmark for mortgage loans and other interest rates, fell as low as 5.731 percent, the lowest since the Treasury began issuing 30-year bonds on a regular basis in 1977.
That could translate to lower mortgage payments for consumers and lower borrowing costs for businesses by the end of the week. It also means the time is ripe for people wanting to trade in an old loan for a new one with a lower rate.
computers I Unisys shifts focus
to more service
Unisys Corp. of Blue Bell, Montgomery County, said yesterday it would stop making personal computers, take a $1.1 billion charge against fourth-quarter earnings and concentrate on its corporate computer and services businesses.
Most of the charge, to be included in results due Jan. 15, will take the form of a $900 million write-off of goodwill from the merger of Burroughs and Sperry Corp. that created Unisys in 1986. Unisys has moved away from the proprietary technology that once dominated the computer industry.
The company also called for early redemption of $198 million in senior notes due July 15 to meet its goal of cutting $1 billion in debt from the company's balance sheet by 2000.
While announcing plans to discontinue the manufacture and assembly of PCs and low-cost server computers, Unisys said it was negotiating with a new global partner to supply laptops and desktop computers and other hardware under its name.
computers II Profit news sends
Apple stock soaring
Apple Computer Inc. sent its stock soaring 20 percent yesterday by saying it would report a surprise quarterly profit, helped by cost cuts and strong demand for its new computers.
Apple predicted it would earn more than $45 million in its fiscal first quarter, which ended last month. Wall Street analysts had expected a loss of $10 million.
Apple has been struggling to regain a shrinking market for Macintosh machines and return to profitability after losing more than $1.8 billion over the past two years.
The company also appeared to stabilize an alarming slide in revenue, saying it expected to report $1.58 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 - roughly even with the previous three months.
In the year-ago quarter, Apple lost $120 million on $2.1 billion in sales. The company has not reported a profit since 1996.
airbags Insurers seek help
Insurers said yesterday they may not be able to easily identify people who have deactivated their auto airbags and are no longer eligible for an insurance discount for using the safety device.
The National Association of Independent Insurers is asking the government to make information about those consumers easy to get. Otherwise, the association says it would be difficult for insurers to continue offering the discount.
The Illinois-based association represents about 560 insurers - including Allstate, Geico and United Services Automobile Association - that write more than 35 percent of the auto-insurance premiums in the United States.
In November, federal regulators announced that people at higher risk from the potentially deadly punch of a deploying airbag could get an on-off switch for airbags.
movies Complex to offer
seats for couples
The ``love seat'' is coming to New York in a new Times Square movie complex, giving couples the option of lifting the arm between the seats to create a cozier viewing experience.
``We think of it as bringing more family entertainment to Times Square,'' said Sonny Stuffle, an executive with AMC Theaters, which has included the chairs in plans for a 25-screen, 125,000-square-foot mega-plex on the redeveloped 42nd Street. ``If you want to cozy up with your date, you can.''
That might not be welcome news for everyone.
``The love seat presents potential problems in first-date situations,'' warned Gersh Kuntzman, who offers weekly advice to the lovelorn as half of a ``He Said, She Said'' column in the New York Post. ``Some of us rely on that armrest to prevent terrible early courting disasters.''
Potential disaster won't arrive for at least a year, giving aspiring suitors time to ponder their first move when faced with the new seat.
shipping FedEx to raise rates
within United States
Federal Express Corp. said yesterday it will raise rates an average of 3 percent to 4 percent for shipments within the United States. The increase, effective Feb. 15, was announced a week after United Parcel Service announced similar hikes.
It comes as FedEx pilots, represented by the FedEx Pilots Association, prepare to vote on a contract giving them 11 percent wage increases over four years.
FedEx, which began distance- based pricing last July 1, has not had an across-the-board increase in four to five years.