State crop values are on the rise

  • Thursday, November 15, 2001 9:00pm
  • Business

The value of Washington’s farm goods rose slightly last year for the second consecutive year, the state’s Agricultural Statistics Service said in its annual report. Agricultural production for 2000 topped $5.4 billion, up about 2 percent from the 1999 value of $5.3 billion. For most commodities, Washington farmers fared much better in the first year of the new millennium than they did at the end of the last one. Cattle, sweet cherries, grapes, wheat, hops, onions, hay and barley each posted substantial gains of more than 10 percent from 1999 to 2000.

An oil price war loomed nearer Thursday when OPEC’s most powerful member said the cartel would let crude prices fall, if necessary, to pressure Russia and other producers outside the group into cooperating with its plan to cut output. Saudi Arabia, the world’s No. 1 oil producer, dominates the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the candid comments of its oil minister, Ali Naimi, revealed its frustration at Russia’s refusal to make more than a token gesture to tighten its taps. Russia is the world’s third-largest crude oil producer. OPEC sees its cooperation as an essential part of the group’s effort to stem the collapse in oil prices.

Driven by strong government and portable computer sales, Dell Computer Corp. narrowly beat Wall Street expectations by a penny with earnings of $429 million in the third quarter, the company reported Thursday. Dell earned 16 cents a share for the three months ended Oct. 31, down from 25 cents a share, or $674 million, in the quarter a year ago.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell for the third straight week, but the number of laid-off Americans collecting benefits still reached an 18-year high. The Labor Department reported Thursday that for the workweek ending Nov. 11, new jobless claims fell by a seasonally adjusted 8,000 to 444,000. Even though new claims declined for the third straight week, the level of claims remained high enough to suggest that the labor market continues to be weak.

Philip Morris Cos. announced Thursday that it is shedding a corporate name long associated with the Marlboro Man and the women of Virginia Slims ads. The tobacco, food and beer conglomerate will dub itself Altria Group Inc. (pronounced Al-Tree-Uh), as soon as shareholders approve the change. The new name will clear up confusion between the parent company and its tobacco operations, and better reflect its growth into a company that sells such products as Nabisco cookies, Miller beer and Kraft foods, CEO Geoffrey Bible said.

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