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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Isle sales growth leads the nation

Hawaii last month once again led the country in the pace of growth in retail sales, with a 4.6 percent increase in purchases paid for by check, compared with March 1999.

TeleCheck Services Inc., a national check-authorizing business that gathers the figures, says check purchases are an important indicator of overall retailing since they represent about one-third of all sales. Nationally, purchases by check were up 3.6 percent last month. TeleCheck said most Easter sales occurred in March last year while Easter is later this year. Hawaii has showed a faster growth than the other states and the District of Columbia since pre-Thanksgiving sales.

Hawaii captures Japan business

A Japanese manufacturing company with more than $2.3 billion in sales last year has taken advantage of Hawaii's favorable "captive insurance" law to set up its own self-insuring business in Honolulu.

Yazaki International Corp. said the favorable financial and tax environment led it to pick Hawaii over other locations around the world to set up its new Yazaki Insurance Co. to insure its North American operations. Captive insurance, permitted in Hawaii by a 1986 law, allows businesses to set up a separate licensed entity to insure their own risks. Hawaii has 82 such insurance companies.

UH business school makes top-20 list

The University of Hawaii College of Business Administration moved up to a tie for 20th place for international business education, in the latest U.S. News & World Report college review. David McClain, the school's dean, said the shift from 24th place last year was a recognition of the school's expertise in cross-cultural business management issues. The college tied with the business college at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The top international business school was Thunderbird Graduate School in Arizona. The UH school did not make it into the top 50 in the U.S. News overall ranking of business schools by all categories.

Economic indicator forecasts slowdown

NEW YORK -- A key gauge of future U.S. economic activity fell 0.3 percent in February, the biggest monthly drop in more than four years, suggesting that rising interest rates have begun to take a toll.

The Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators dropped to 106 in February after rising a revised 0.2 percent in January to 106.3, the private business-financed research group said today.

The decline, the first in the index since September, was larger than the 0.1 percent drop that analysts had expected.

It was the largest decline since the index fell 0.4 percent in January 1996, board economists said.

"Signals for the immediate future point to continued expansion, although not at the breakneck pace of the fourth quarter of 1999," when the U.S. economy grew at a sizzling 7.3 percent annual rate, said Ken Goldstein, chief economist of the Conference Board.

JDS Uniphase buys Cronos Integrated

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- JDS Uniphase Corp., the largest maker of parts used in fiber-optic equipment, agreed to buy Cronos Integrated Microsystems Inc. for $750 million in stock to add chips that process beams of light.

Closely held Cronos makes tiny devices that combine semiconductor technology and mechanical engineering to regulate the strength or direction of light in fiber-optic networks.

The former unit of MCNC, a research center in North Carolina, is developing other products for biotechnology and microelectronics.

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