Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Maui golf course closing; 74 laid off

WAILUKU -- The Grand Waikapu Resort Golf & Spa will close its 18-hole Grand Waikapu Golf Course tomorrow, laying off 74 workers.

The adjacent 18-hole Sandalwood Golf Course and its facilities will continue to operate, said Francis Cipro, company president of Grand Waikapu Resort Golf & Spa. Cipro said the Grand Waikapu was designed as a private country club, selling adjacent two-acre lots, and the market has been bad for sales.

Fed leaves interest rates unchanged

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve policy-makers left short-term interest rates unchanged today, resisting the temptation to ruin Wall Street's celebration of the first five-digit close of the Dow Jones stock average.

The central bank's monetary policy panel -- the Federal Open Market Committee -- ended a closed-door meeting by signaling it had left the benchmark rate on overnight loans between banks at 4.75 percent. It's been at that level, a four-year low, since Nov. 17, when the Fed finished reducing it, over a seven-week span, from 5.5 percent in an effort to insulate the U.S. economy from the aftershocks of last summer's collapse of the Russian ruble.

Philip Morris loses round in court

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A jury ordered a Philip Morris Cos. to pay a record $81 million today to the family of a man who died of lung cancer after smoking Marlboros for four decades. It was the biggest verdict ever won on behalf of an individual in a smoking liability case.

The court victory by the wife and children of Jesse Williams, who died in 1997, was the second major hit against Philip Morris this year. A San Francisco jury awarded $51.5 million last month to a Marlboro smoker who has inoperable lung cancer. Although no similar verdict against the tobacco industry has survived on appeal, Wall Street analysts were watching the Portland case closely to see if public opinion had turned.

The Williams family, who sought $101 million, alleged the company knew its cigarettes could cause cancer.

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