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BUSINESS TODAY

Motorola to slash 4,00 jobs

CHICAGO (AP) -- Motorola Inc. disclosed plans today to cut as many as 4,000 jobs, or about 3 percent of its work force, from its semiconductor operations by the end of the year -- its third round of employee cuts in 10 weeks.

No specific locations for the job cuts were announced. The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company's semiconductor operations are based in Austin, Texas.

The cell-phone and semiconductor giant said the moves continue its cost-reduction measures and are aimed at helping to boost efficiency and improving profitability.

Last month Motorola eliminated 2,500 jobs at its cell phone manufacturing facility in Harvard, Ill. -- a month after disclosing 2,870 layoffs in Iowa, Florida and Ireland as part of a money-saving shift to more outsourcing of its cell phone production.

Motorola operates an automotive electronics plant in Elma.

Mortgage rates dip below 7%

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rates for 30-year mortgages dipped below the 7 percent mark this week for the second time this year.

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.98 percent, down from 7.09 percent last week, according to a survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

The last time that 30-year rates slipped below 7 percent was the week ending Jan. 12, when they were at 6.89 percent. Since then, the 30-year average rate has bobbed between 7.02 percent and 7.15 percent.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, declined to 6.60 percent last week, down from 6.66 percent the previous week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.45 percent, compared with 6.54 percent the week before.

Dell to cut thousands of jobs

AUSTIN, Texas (Bloomberg) -- Dell Computer Corp. may soon fire thousands of employees, the first major job cuts in its history, as the No. 1 U.S. personal-computer maker slashes expenses in the face of slumping demand, analysts said.

The company may fire about 3,000 people, or 8 percent of its work force, said Ashok Kumar, an analyst with US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, who rates Dell a "buy."

The firings will begin soon after Dell reports fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Last month, Dell said revenue and profit for the period wouldn't meet forecasts after PC discounts failed to boost flagging sales. To try to make up for slowing growth, Dell cut prices and offered promotions such as free printers and shipping.

Dell employs about 39,000 people worldwide.

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