Business

Fuel costs hurt FedEx

Work

France's conservative government adopted a plan Wednesday that would allow companies and employees to get around 35-hour workweek rules that critics say has restricted economic growth.

Rail workers, teachers and other public servants went on strike this week and union activists marched in protests nationwide to voice opposition to the plan.

The Cabinet's proposal, which goes next to parliament for debate, is the latest effort to roll back the work-share scheme introduced by a Socialist government 10 years ago. Successive conservative governments have already chipped away at it.

The plan would retain the legal limit on working hours but allow companies to negotiate opt-outs with employees. Associated Press

Gaming

Revenue at the nation's Indian casinos grew 5 percent in 2007, significantly slower than in years past but still outpacing the growth rate at Nevada casinos amid a sluggish economy.

Figures from the National Indian Gaming Commission, obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday ahead of their public release, show that Indian casinos took in $26 billion in gambling revenue in 2007, up from $24.9 billion in 2006.

Nevada casinos took in $12.85 billion in gambling revenue last year, up 1.8 percent from the year before.

“The continued growth is significant considering recent economic struggles throughout the country,” said commission Chairman Philip Hogen. “Indian gaming continues to be an important factor in local economies.”

The 5 percent increase in 2007 marked the first time in more than a decade that tribal gambling did not enjoy double-digit growth from one year to the next. Associated Press

Banking

The investment bank Morgan Stanley, with its core securities trading business continuing to feel the tight credit market, reported a 58 percent decrease in net profit on Wednesday.

The results were broadly in line with analysts' expectations, although disappointing to a firm that has traditionally held itself up to be a standard bearer on Wall Street, especially in light of the strong results reported Tuesday by its rival Goldman Sachs.

But during a stretch of time that has seen the demise of one firm, Bear Stearns, and persistent speculation about another, Lehman Brothers, Morgan's ability to generate a billion dollar profit, escape large write downs and not have to raise capital represents a small step forward.

Net profit of $1 billion, or 95 cents a share, was down 58 percent, from $2.58 billion, or $2.45 a share, in the period a year ago and 34 percent from the first quarter. New York Times

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