FedEx warns sluggish

economy is hitting profit

n MEMPHIS - FedEx Corp. warned Thursday that soaring fuel prices and turmoil in the U.S. housing and financial markets are taking a toll on its earnings.

The package-delivery and air-cargo company raised the red flag as it reported 4 percent profit growth for the first quarter ended Aug. 31, much of which came prior to the mid-quarter meltdown in the subprime mortgage market.

FedEx earned $494 million, or $1.58 per share, compared with $475 million, or $1.53 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues rose 8 percent to $9.2 billion.


Viking Range branching out

to include commerical line

n GREENWOOD - Viking Range Corp. on Thursday said it is entering the commercial cooking equipment arena. The company has formed the Viking Commercial products division, which is headquartered in southern California.

The Viking Commercial product line includes cooking equipment, including ranges of all styles, ovens, broilers, griddles, salamanders, cheesemelters, induction units and island suites, as well as under-counter refrigeration. Viking plans to preview its initial commercial products in May 2008 at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago with anticipated production beginning later in 2008.


Crude oil prices close to record high at $83 per barrel

n NEW YORK - Crude oil prices surged further into record terrain Thursday, breaching $83 a barrel as the weak dollar and some worrisome weather in the Gulf of Mexico spurred buying.

The weather system, which forecasters said might develop into a tropical depression, caused the temporary closure of about a quarter of the Gulf of Mexico's daily oil production on Thursday as a precaution. That lent an extra boost to the oil market's already strong record-breaking run, because traders view U.S. crude inventories as tight. Last week, crude inventories declined.


GM continues contract talk

with United Auto Workers

n DETROIT - Negotiators for General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers, trying to craft a new contract, are still discussing the automaker's proposal to pay the union to form a trust and take over the company's huge retiree health care obligation, according to two people who have been briefed on the talks.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private, said noneconomic issues, which include grievance procedures, absenteeism and other items, had been settled.

The discussions about the trust took place even though UAW President Ron Gettelfinger on Tuesday rejected a GM offer on the trust, called a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association according to one of the people briefed on the talks.

Wire reports

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