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Business Briefing

December 11, 2009

Oversight of wireless industry found lacking

Federal regulators receive tens of thousands of complaints about wireless services every year but don't do enough to follow up or to protect consumers who have problems with their mobile carriers, government auditors have found.

The Government Accountability Office said the Federal Communications Commission needed to ramp up oversight of the wireless industry and do a better job of enforcing consumer protection rules.

EMPLOYMENT

Jobless benefit claims drop

Fewer Americans on average filed claims for jobless benefits over the last four weeks, signaling that companies are gaining confidence.

The four-week average declined to a one-year low of 473,750 last week from 481,500, Labor Department figures show. Initial jobless claims, which are more volatile, unexpectedly rose 17,000 to 474,000 in the week ended Dec. 5.


FOR THE RECORD:
Madoff claims: A news brief Friday in Business about the rejection of claims in the Bernard Madoff scheme said that the 1,600 people whose claims have been approved had losses totaling $4.69 million. The correct figure is $4.69 billion. —

JUSTICE

Madoff investors' claims rejected

Most of the people who say they lost money with Bernard Madoff have had their claims denied because they invested with the con man indirectly or withdrew more money than they put in.

Trustee Irving Picard has turned down about 9,900 of the 11,500 people whose claims he has analyzed, with an additional 4,500 cases still to be evaluated. The 1,600 people whose claims he has approved have losses totaling $4.69 million, though they'll get at most $500,000 to begin with, pending the results of Picard's suits against people he regards as beneficiaries of the scheme.

EARNINGS

Costco profit grows 1.1%

Costco Wholesale Corp., the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain, said its fiscal first-quarter earnings grew 1.1% as revenue increased.

Net income in the quarter ended Nov. 22 rose to $266 million, or 60 cents a share, from $263 million, or 60 cents, a year earlier, the Issaquah, Wash., company said. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated earnings of 59 cents on average. Revenue increased 5.5% to $17.3 billion.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Bone drug aids cancer patients

Amgen Inc.'s bone-strengthening drug denosumab cut the rate of fractures and other bone complications in patients with breast cancer better than Novartis' Zometa, according to a study.

After 34 months, 30.7% of patients getting a monthly injection of the Thousand Oaks company's denosumab had at least one bone complication, compared with 36.5% of those getting a monthly infusion of Zometa, researchers reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The results were better than those from research reported in September.

AEROSPACE

Dreamliner test flight's date is set

Boeing Co. has scheduled the 787 Dreamliner's maiden test flight for Tuesday, a milestone that would cap more than two years of delays and put the aircraft on track to start flying passengers late next year.

RESTAURANTS

McDonald's plans $1 breakfast menu

McDonald's Corp. plans to offer a $1 breakfast menu for the first time nationally in January to revive early-morning sales that have been hurt by unemployment.

-- times wire reports

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