A report that the US economy slowed to its weakest rate of growth in four years this summer added to evidence that the nation's 10-year economic expansion may be coming to an end. The nation's total output of goods and services fell to a rate of just 2.2 percent in the third quarter - a 3.4 percent drop from the previous quarter, the Commerce Department reported. Analysts credited the unexpected fall-off to the nation's weak trade deficit.
Traders, meanwhile, were hoping to rebound from a difficult day on Wall Street as share prices fell sharply, leading economists to predict 2000 will be the markets' worst year since the 1970s. The technology-driven Nasdaq plunged 7.2 percent, bringing the index average below half of its peak value reached in March. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 2.5 percent in Wednesday's trading. Disappointing holiday sales - extending even to Internet retailers - prompted the slide, economists suggested.
George W. Bush formally resigned as governor of Texas in a ceremony in the Capitol in Austin and later attended the inauguration of his successor, Lt. Gov. Rick Perry. His six years in office were marked by tax cuts, increased funding for education, and a record number of executions of convicted murderers. Bush was expected to announce a slate of new cabinet appointees, including secretary of Defense and attorney general, in the coming days. (Related stories, pages 1, 3.)
With his administration winding down, President Clinton released more federal regulations that had been in the works for almost a decade, among them a move to reduce air pollution from trucks and buses by more than 90 percent over the next 10 years. Environmentalists lauded the new guidelines, which require such vehicles to meet strict tailpipe emission limits and refiners to manufacture virtually sulfur-free diesel fuel. Gasoline manufacturers warned the new sulfur regulations would cause diesel prices to rise by 15 cents a gallon.
The administration also capped a long-term effort to establish national standards for organic foods, which are produced without pesticides or hormones. The government will now place a USDA label on organic products - mostly fruits and vegetables - in an effort to assist consumers seeking an alternative to bioengineered products.
The chief Palestinian negotiator in Washington said he and his Israeli counterpart have made significant progress in discussions on the future status of Jerusalem. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined the deliberations after Clinton offered a new outline for a peace accord that, officials said, dealt with the core issues of the dispute.
John Lindsay, who died in Hilton Head, S.C., was remembered for a leadership style that transcended social and racial lines during his two terms as mayor of New York City in the mid-1960s and early '70s. The son of a Manhattan investment banker, Lindsay was noted for his attention to civil rights, poverty, and opposition to the Vietnam War. The former Republican later failed in his bid for the 1972 presidential nomination as a Democrat.
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