Business & Finance

Blockbuster Inc., the largest US video rental retailer, said Tuesday that it would pursue a $1 billion hostile takeover of rival Hollywood Entertainment Corp. by mid-January if its rival continues to refuse to negotiate. Other suitors include Movie Gallery Inc. and the buyout firm Leonard Green Partners. By adding Hollywood Entertainment's 1,900 video stores to its 5,000 outlets, Blockbuster hopes to offer more convenience for customers.

Airline budget woes may be behind computer glitches such as one that caused Comair to shutdown Saturday, stranding thousands of passengers, USA Today reported Tuesday. Airline spending on technology has decreased annually since 2001 but will increase in 2005, according to the Airline IT Trends Survey 2004.

Home Depot announced Tuesday that it plans to begin selling more than 1,800 brand-name appliances, including dishwashers and freezers, on its Web site. In doing so, it hopes to gain a larger share of the US market, where it trails Sears Roebuck & Company and Lowe's in sales.

Wet Seal Inc., the struggling casual clothing retailer, said Tuesday that it will close 150 underperforming stores, mostly in malls, and lay off 2,000 employees by the end of February. The downsizing is part of a major restructuring plan aimed at coping with lackluster demand for teen-oriented fashions. Wet Seal is based in Foothill Ranch, Calif.

China and India lured investors with the world's fastest economic growth rates this year, fueling record sales of stocks and bonds. India, which increased the value of sales tenfold, combined with China to account for a third of the $98.6 billion raised by Asian companies and governments selling debt and equity. Bankers expect the trend to extend into 2005.

Decades-old textile quotas will expire Jan. 1 under a World Trade Organization agreement, leaving struggling US firms to compete with companies based in countries such as China, where the operating and labor costs are lower. As a result, up to 650,000 US jobs may be lost over the next two years, predicts Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.

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