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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, August 3, 2000

Bias plaintiffs awarded $120 mil

SAN FRANCISCO -- The nation's largest wholesale baker was ordered to pay $120 million in punitive damages to black workers who said they suffered racial discrimination at a Wonder Bread plant.

The damage award yesterday came two days after a jury ordered Interstate Bakeries Corp., the Kansas City, Mo.-based company that produces Wonder Bread, Twinkies, Home Pride bread and Hostess Cupcakes, to pay $11 million in actual damages to 21 workers at the San Francisco plant. The judge cut that amount to $5.8 million yesterday. The plaintiffs stood and applauded after the award was announced yesterday in San Francisco Superior Court.

"Thank you, Jesus!" one exclaimed. Others hugged the jurors.

Lawyers for the bakery said they would appeal.

30-year mortgages slip to 8.12 percent

WASHINGTON -- Mortgage rates were mixed this week with 30-year mortgages edging down slightly.

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 8.12 percent compared with 8.13 percent the previous week, according to a survey released today by Freddie Mac. Fifteen-year mortgages ticked up slightly this week, rising to 7.88 percent, up from 7.85 percent last week. On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 7.28 percent, down slightly from last week's rate of 7.29 percent.

Investors flee Gap after warning

SAN FRANCISCO -- Shares of Gap Inc. plummeted more than 20 percent today following a warning by the clothing retailer that second-quarter earnings would likely come in below Wall Street's expectations.

Citing sluggish sales in July, the San Francisco-based company said earnings per share likely will be 2 to 3 cents below the 23 cents estimated by analysts surveyed by First Call/ Thomson Financial.

The warning came out after regular trading was finished yesterday.

Gap's shares fell $7.94, or 20.3 percent, to $30.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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