Home sales, confidence riseConsumers shrugged off rising...

BUSINESS DIGEST

June 29, 1994

Home sales, confidence rise

Consumers shrugged off rising mortgage rates in May and surprisingly bought more new homes than in April, the Commerce Department said.

Sales rose 4.2 percent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 738,000 units, and were a strong 16 percent higher than levels a year earlier, when they were at a 635,000-unit rate.

In another piece of evidence that consumers are optimistic about their prospects, the Conference Board in New York said its Consumer Confidence index hit its highest level in June in nearly four years. The index of future expectations jumped to 92 in June from 88.9 in May.

Mobil to cut 2,300 jobs

Mobil Corp.'s planned restructuring of its chemical business will result in the loss of about 2,300 jobs, or 20 percent of the staff, the company said yesterday.

Mobil also said its second-quarter 1994 after-tax results will be cut by $315 million in special charges as a result of its restructuring efforts.

As part of the cutbacks, the Fairfax, Va.-based company plans to close a facility in Macedon, N.Y., and reduce production at a Stratford, Conn., plant.

ABS Capital raises $154 million

ABS Capital Partners, a venture capital firm affiliated with Alex. Brown Inc., yesterday announced it has closed its second round of capitalization, raising $154 million. The money will be invested in companies in seven industries: consumer, environmental, financial services, health care, media, technology and transportation.

ABS's general partners include an Alex. Brown subsidiary and three former executives of the company. The parent company is also the largest single limited partner in ABS Capital Partners.

Warrant issued for executive

A federal magistrate issued an arrest warrant yesterday for a former Lockheed Corp. executive after he failed to appear for arraignment on corruption and fraud charges tied to a $79 million aircraft sale to Egypt.

The act brands Suleiman Nassar as a fugitive from justice, and U.S. officials said Washington is expected to seek his extradition from Switzerland, where he is believed to be living.

Plaid Clothing makes offer

Plaid Clothing Group Inc. of New York, which owns an Owings Mills-based menswear manufacturer, has finalized its offer for Gruppo Finanziario Tessile GFT, Italy's third-largest clothing and textile company, Women's Wear Daily reported.

Plaid's holdings include J. Schoeneman Inc. on Reisterstown Road, which specializes in high-end menswear and sells under the labels of Nicole Miller, Burberry, Christian Dior and Halston.

The $245 million purchase of GFT is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

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