A Week's Worth

• Spiraling up: The price of crude oil topped $38 a barrel on the futures market, a level not seen since the buildup to the Gulf War in October 1990.

• Fewer jobless: Maybe the recovery hasn't produced many new jobs, but the number of Americans filing for unemployment pay has fallen to its lowest level since before the 2001 recession. Total applications, 336,000, were well below analysts' forecasts and suggests stronger hiring ahead. But other news, such as a surge in US producer prices (especially energy), kept stock prices from rising this week. Separately, the Conference Board's leading economic indicators remained unchanged, pointing to a possible leveling off in the economic pace ahead.

• Female gains: Women's business clout increased nearly 8 percent last year, partly because of a large jump in women officers at Fortune 500 companies. But the Committee of 200, the organization of women business owners and corporate leaders that released its study, noted that at current rates, women will need a minimum of two more decades to reach equal footing with men on a range of measures from pay to venture-capital funding for new businesses.

• Don't call it spam: In 2003, the average online consumer received 3,920 unwanted commercial e-mail messages, according to Jupiter Research. It estimates that total will grow to 6,395 by the end of 2008. Why? Spending on e-mail marketing in the US is expected to almost triple to $6.1 billion during that period.

• C is for cubicle: Nearly half of 1,003 employees in a survey gave their workspaces a C grade. And more rated them a D (10 percent) than an A (6 percent). The major problems cited: a lack of privacy and a tangle of cords on their desks. Some 60 percent felt more productive when their space was tidy, according to the survey by Logitech International, a Swiss office-products maker.

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