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U.S. industry is using more of its capacity than at any time

December 15, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. industry is using more of its capacity than at any time in nine years, the government said in a report that heightened concerns that the economy will overheat and inflation will accelerate.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday the operating rate at factories, mines and utilities was 84.2 percent last month, up from 84.0 percent in October.

In a related report, the Fed said its industrial production index in November increased by 0.5 percent for the second month in a row.

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DETROIT (AP) - Sales of U.S.-made cars and light trucks fell 11 percent in early December compared with a burst of incentive-driven sales in the same period a year earlier.

The companies said Wednesday they sold an average of 29,610 vehicles during each of the nine selling days in the Dec. 1-10 period this year, compared with an average of 33,251 during the same period last year, when there also were nine selling days.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The government says the U.S. trade deficit for October narrowed slightly to $10.35 billion in a report that failed to inspire the financial markets.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday the gap between the amount of merchandise the United States imports and what it sells overseas was 3.1 percent smaller than September’s deficit of $10.67 billion.

The October deficit was the lowest since July’s $9.47 billion. But the financial markets fretted that the trend of deficit declines may be over.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Business inventories in October climbed at the slowest rate in five months, while sales surged 1.2 percent, the government says.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday inventories held on shelves and backlots rose 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $751.4 billion, while sales jumped to $501.5 billion.

Economists said the combination of a modest increase in inventories and brisk sales is a sign of economic strength and, possibly, inflation.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A national survey on home equity loans found that Americans use them with caution and limit the amounts they borrow because ″they’re well aware that they’re betting their home.″

Fifty-eight percent of homeowners had a first mortgage and 11 percent had other loans secured by their home equity, according to a July-November survey of 2,510 households released Wednesday by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Petroleum imports rose sharply in November and domestic crude oil production took its biggest monthly dip this year, the American Petroleum Institute says.

Imports jumped 14.1 percent to an average 7.95 million barrels a day from 6.97 million barrels in November 1987, with imports of gasoline and other refined products reaching their highest level since 1974, according to API’s Monthly Statistical Report released Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government should spend $112 billion over the next decade to restore the health of the nation’s savings and loan institutions, the congressional General Accounting Office says.

But, the agency added Wednesday in a draft of a report to the House Banking Committee, more than that will be required if interest rates rise from current levels.

Most economists expect interest rates to climb through the middle of next year, but few offer certain predictions beyond that.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Barry Minkow, who once convinced Wall Street and talk show hosts that he was a teen-age business genius, has been convicted on all counts in the ZZZZ Best carpet-cleaning securities fraud case.

Minkow, 22, convicted Wednesday on 57 federal counts of swindling investors in a phony restoration business, had contended he was the terrified puppet of mobsters, but the jury believed prosecutors who said he was a canny youthful con man.

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - First Fidelity Bancorp.’s stock plummeted following the resignation of two top executives and an announcement that the big bank holding company expected a huge loss in the fourth quarter.

The stock decline on Wednesday followed the company’s announcement late Tuesday that Harold W. Pote, its president and chief executive, and Bernard J. Morgan, a vice chairman, resigned and the company expected to lose between $145 million and $190 million in the fourth quarter because of problem loans.

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NEW YORK (AP) - CBS, a failure last month in its bid for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, has won network rights to broadcast major league baseball by agreeing to pay $1 billion over four years.

NBC, which has broadcast baseball since 1947, said Wednesday it was outbid by a substantial margin and accused its rival of irresponsibility.

The new contract is the largest ever awarded to a single network for sports. It gives CBS the World Series in 1990 along with both league playoffs, the All-Star Game and a 12-game package during the season.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Transportation Department refused to further investigate the fitness of Eastern Airlines and chastised the airline’s unions for ″a transparent attempt to put pressure″ on management by raising false safety concerns.

The department denied petitions Wednesday by the unions representing Eastern’s pilots and machinists which had asked that a full-fledged fitness review be conducted of the financially troubled airline, a subsidiary of giant Texas Air Corp.

--- By The Associated Press

The stock market drifted lower Wednesday, as the Dow Jones average of 30 industrials dropped 9.24 points to 2,134.25.

The dollar retreated, hurt by what money dealers called rumors of a hike in West German interest rates and a negative market reaction to the monthly U.S. trade report.

Bond prices lost ground, with long-term Treasury issues falling furthest.

Coffee futures prices rocketed to 4 1/2 -month highs, while prices of copper, precious metals, energy and most agricultural commodity futures also rose.

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