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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

VERIZON EARNINGS SOAR FIVE TIMES ABOVE LAST YEAR'S

NEW YORK (AP) -- A surge in wireless services profits helped boost Verizon Communications Inc.'s second-quarter profit five times higher from a year ago, the company said today. The results beat Wall Street expectations.

The New York-based telecommunications company earned $1.8 billion, or 64 cents a share, up from $338 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $17.84 billion, compared with $16.83 billion a year before.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of 60 cents a share.

Sales in the company's wireless division were 25 percent higher than they were for the year-ago quarter. The division's profit margin widened and its customer churn rate, a measure of how many customers leave each month, hit a company record-low.

The New York-based telecom company said about 50 percent of its residential customers buy "bundles" of service, which package Verizon's local service with either long-distance or DSL.

The company said it also installed 52 percent more DSL lines than it had in the year-ago quarter. It now has more than 2.9 million DSL lines in service.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE CONTINUES TO RISE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Consumer confidence rose for the fourth straight month in July thanks to steady improvements in the job market, the Conference Board reported today, putting the indicator at a two-year high.

The New York-based research group reported that its index for consumer confidence rose to 106.1 in July, up from 102.8 in June and well ahead of the figure of 102.0 that investors had been expecting. It was the highest level for the indicator since June 2002.

The survey is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

TOYOTA RECALLING SOME CAMRYS

DETROIT (AP) -- Toyota Motor Co. is recalling 128,316 Camry sedans because the side air bags may not inflate properly, the automaker said Monday.

Involved in the recall are Camry sedans from model years 2002-2004 that have optional side air bags. The defect hasn't been blamed for any deaths or injuries, Toyota spokeswoman Julie Alfonso said.

Toyota said improper assembly caused some bags to become twisted. If that happens, not enough gas will be released to inflate the air bag in a crash.

Dealers will inspect the air bags for free and replace them if necessary. The company is scheduled to begin notifying customers about the recall next month.

YIELDS RISE ON TREASURY BILLS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills rose in Monday's auction to the highest level since 2002.

The Treasury Department auctioned $18 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 1.425 percent.

Another $16 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 1.735 percent.

The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors -- 1.449 percent for three-month bills with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,964.00, and 1.774 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,912.30.

In a separate report, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, rose to 2.12 percent last week from 2.07 percent the previous week.

IN OTHER BUSINESS NEWS

Delco Remy International Inc. will shed the Delco name next Monday, discarding another piece of its former identity as a unit of General Motors Corp. The name change to Remy International Inc. will mark the 10th anniversary of GM selling off to private investors the Anderson-based maker of starters, alternators and other electrical components.

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