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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 27, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Safety-net deal delivers some relief to Greece


Advertiser News Services

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

George Papandreou

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BRUSSELS A hard-won deal to provide a safety net for Greece provided the debt-ridden country with some welcome relief yesterday, with its cost of borrowing on international markets edging down slightly and labor unions at home saying they would hold off on any further strikes at least for now.

Prime Minister George Papandreou said that while Greece still faced problems, the new plan would give it breathing space to implement his Socialist government's harsh austerity program, designed to reduce its massive budget deficit and pull Greece out of a financial crisis that has rocked the European Union's common currency.

AT&T TAKES ON $1B ACCOUNTING CHARGE

NEW YORK AT&T Inc. will take a $1 billion noncash accounting charge in the first quarter because of the health care overhaul and may cut benefits it offers to current and retired workers.

The charge is the largest disclosed so far.

Earlier this week, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Deere & Co. and Valero Energy announced similar accounting charges, saying the health care law that President Obama signed Tuesday will raise their expenses.

Yesterday, 3M Co. said it will also take a charge of $85 million to $90 million.

ECONOMY'S GROWTH STRONGEST IN 6 YEARS

WASHINGTON The burst of energy the economy showed at the end of last year isn't likely to be repeated anytime soon.

The Commerce Department reported yesterday the economy grew at a 5.6 percent pace in the October-to-December quarter in its third and final estimate of economic activity during the period.

The new reading marked the strongest showing in six years.

Many economists, however, think the economy has slowed in the current quarter to about half the pace seen at the end of last year.