By Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 12/22/2003 12:00:00 AM
Leading indicators post second straight gain
A key barometer of future economic activity, the Index of Leading Indicators, posted a second straight monthly increase in November, rising by 0.3 percent to a level of 114.2, The Conference Board reported.
It was a second consecutive monthly gain, following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent increase in October.
The Index of Leading Indicators, now compiled by The Conference Board, a New York City-based business think tank, points towards economic activity in the next three to six months.
Industrial output jumps at fastest pace in four years
In one more sign of a strengthening domestic economy, American factories, mines and utilities stepped up production in November, the Federal Reserve reported.
The Fed said domestic industrial production increased sharply by 0.9 percent in November, the biggest one-month gain recorded in the past four years. Output in the factory sector, which accounts for more than 80 percent of total industrial production, also posted a 0.9 percent increase. The Fed reported that domestic industries ran at 75.7 percent of capacity, the highest level since September 2002.
In another sign of an improving economy, October production figures were revised upwards, to a 0.4 percent increase form a previously reported gain of 0.2 percent. October plant capacity was similarly revised upwards, to 75.1 percent from 75.0 percent.
Investor increases Crown Crafts stake
Wynnefield Partners Small Cap Value LP, a private investment company controlled by investor Nelson Obus, has increased its stake in Crown Crafts Inc. to slightly more than 15 percent.
Between Dec. 4th and Dec. 12th, Wynnefield bought 36,000 shares of the company's stock at prices ranging from $0.48 a share to $0.51 a share. Following the most recent purchases, Wynnefield and its affiliate companies own 1.4 million shares of the common stock of the infant's and juvenile products producer based in Gonzales, LA.
"I see it as a sign of their continued faith in the company, or they wouldn't keep putting their money in," said E. Randall Chestnut, ceo of Crown Crafts. He described Wynnefield as "purely a passive investor in Crown Crafts."
Dillard's credit facility to $1 billion
Dillard's Inc., a department store chain based in Little Rock, AR, has increased its revolving credit facility to $1 billion from $400 million, and said it plans to redeem $331.6 million in preferred securities.
The retailer said the senior secured revolving credit facility has been extended by five years, and will expire in December, 2008.
About $835 million of the facility is available immediately, with the remainder becoming available once Dillard's redeems the preferred securities. The retailer said it agreed to redeem the securities by Feb. 2, 2004, and added in a federal filing that it has 'ample liquidity' to complete the transaction.
The TJX Companies, a Framingham, MA-based company which operates a broad portfolio of off-price retailing nameplates, has approved a quarterly dividend of $0.35 per share, payable March 2, 2004, to shareholders of record as of Feb. 12.
TJX operates T.J. Maxx stores; Marshalls; HomeGoods; A.J. Wright; and HomeSense stores.
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