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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 7, 2006

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Martha Stewart conviction holds

Advertiser News Services

NEW YORK A federal appeals court yesterday upheld the conviction of celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart for lying to investigators about selling stock that plunged in price soon after her trade. Stewart completed her sentence in the case last summer but pursued the appeal anyway.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued a written ruling upholding the 2004 convictions of Stewart and former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic for lying about why Stewart sold nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in 2001.


CONSUMER CONFIDENCE FALLS

WASHINGTON Consumer confidence took a big hit early this month, losing ground that had been gained after the devastating hurricanes and energy price spike in the fall.

The RBC CASH Index, based on polling by Ipsos, showed that consumer confidence fell to 78.2 this month, the lowest level in three months and 8.5 percent below the December reading. Consumers' attitudes had taken a sharp hit in September and October when confidence was jolted by the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes and a resulting spike in energy costs that sent gasoline prices briefly above $3 per gallon.


CARNIVAL, TOURISTS HIT NEW ORLEANS

NEW ORLEANS The first Carnival season since Hurricane Katrina opened yesterday. And four months after the disaster, there were signs of tourists returning.

Mayor Ray Nagin said going ahead with the festivities "is one further step in demonstrating that we are all coming together." However, many said such festivities were inappropriate before most of the city's residents were able to return.

Carnival, which culminates with Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and pumps an estimated $1 billion into the city's economy.


WORKERS PLAN TO PICKET AUTO SHOW

DETROIT The union picketers outside this year's North American International Auto Show will be one sign that all is not well in Detroit. The show, Jan. 14 to 22, comes at a difficult time for General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., who are in the midst of restructuring after billions of dollars in losses in 2005.

GM and Ford want to focus on their products at the show, which last year was attended by more than 775,000 people. The workers will be protesting plans by auto supplier Delphi Corp. to cut wages and close plants.


VERIZON, MCI MERGE COMPLETE

NEW YORK Verizon Communications Inc. completed its $8.5 billion purchase of MCI Inc. yesterday. The deal gives Verizon a fiber-optic network and business-services unit with which to compete with the rival created by the SBC Communications Inc.'s takeover of AT&T Corp.

The acquisition of MCI, which required a three-month bidding war against Qwest Communications International Inc., marks the final chapter for a company that brought competition to the long-distance phone business, but was ultimately hobbled by the WorldCom scandal and bankruptcy.