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WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2007
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Pipe facility to build in Mobile

MOBILE — A Florida company will open a $75 million pipe manufacturing facility in Mobile, creating about 100 jobs, officials said Tuesday.

The Berg Steel Pipe Corp. plant will make large-diameter pipe used by the oil and gas industry. Based in Panama City, Fla., the company considered six locations in different states before choosing the former International Paper site in north Mobile.

“You are moving into one of the fastest-growing places in the United States,” Gov. Bob Riley told company President David Delie as they signed the project agreement. “We know if you’re successful, you’ll continue to grow and hire more people. That’s why the state of Alabama is committed to being your partner.”

The facility will include a pipe fabrication building and a separate coating building on the 86-acre site. Construction is expected to begin in late June, and the plant could begin operations in late 2008.

Wall Street makes slight gain

NEW YORK — Wall Street eked out a modest gain Tuesday as investors, wary about the upcoming release of the Federal Reserve minutes, bought cautiously amid a series of new takeover deals and upbeat consumer confidence figures.

Stocks drew support from news that a consortium of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC said it will bid 71.1 billion euros, or $95.5 billion, for the Netherlands’ ABN Amro, besting an offer from Barclays PLC. Other takeover news included an announcement that Tishman Speyer Properties and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. are buying Archstone-Smith Trust for at least $13.5 billion.

But trading was erratic with the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting scheduled to be released Wednesday. The minutes could provide some insight into future interest rate moves. Wall Street also digested strong consumer confidence data, and a report on housing prices.

Oil prices drop more than $2

NEW YORK — Oil prices plunged by more than $2 a barrel Tuesday on hopes that the inauguration of a new president in OPEC member Nigeria would contribute to a stable supply from the Niger Delta region.

A formal meeting over the weekend between U.S. and Iranian officials also soothed traders’ concerns about a potential conflict between the two countries.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery dropped $2.05 to settle at $63.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Before the long weekend, U.S. crude oil climbed more than $1 to $65.20 Friday. Monday there was no floor trade and no closing price in the U.S. because of the Memorial Day holiday.

Brent futures for July lost $1.58 to close at $68.15 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

World Bank leader chosen

WASHINGTON — President Bush has chosen Robert Zoellick, a one-time U.S. trade representative and former No. 2 official at the State Department, to lead the World Bank, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Bush will announce his decision on Wednesday.

Zoellick would succeed Paul Wolfowitz, who is stepping down June 30 after findings by a special bank panel that he broke bank rules when he arranged a hefty compensation package in 2005 for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a bank employee. The controversy led to calls from Europeans, the bank’s staff, aid groups, Democratic politicians and others for Wolfowitz to step down.

Zoellick’s selection has received positive reaction from other nations, and the White House expects him to be accepted by the World Bank executive board, the senior administration official said.

Consumer confidence rebounds

NEW YORK — Consumer confidence bounced back unexpectedly in May, helped by optimism about the job market even as shoppers’ concerns about gasoline price-driven inflation increased.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 108.0 in May, up from a revised 106.3 in April. Analysts had expected the reading to fall to 104.5. The May reading was the highest since March when the index was at 108.2.

The Present Situation Index, which measures how shoppers feel now about economic conditions, rose to 136.1 from 133.5 in April. The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ outlook for the next six months, edged up to 89.2 from 88.2.

Economists closely monitor consumer confidence since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity.

compiled from wire reports

The upbeat data helped push stocks higher.

———

DENVER (AP) — In a union of two large meat-processing companies, a Brazilian firm announced Tuesday it will acquire Swift & Co. in a $225 million cash deal that will give the combined company greater access to expanding markets and operations on three continents.

J&F Participacoes S.A., which controls Brazil’s leading beef exporter Friboi, won out over other bidders for Swift, which was highly sought after because not many meat-packaging plants are put up for sale in wake of U.S. industry consolidation, analysts said.

Swift, headquartered in Greeley about 50 miles north of Denver, is the third-largest U.S. processor of beef and pork and has plants in six states and an operation in Australia.

J&F will buy Swift from its owners, HM Capital Partners of Dallas and Vail-based Booth Creek Management Corp. It will assume $1.2 billion in debt and pay transaction-related expenses.

The companies said the combined company will become the largest beef processing operation in the world.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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