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Alaska Airlines reached a new tentative contract agreement late yesterday with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents the airline’s roughly 650 mechanics, said airline spokeswoman Caroline Boren.


Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In July, the mechanics rejected another tentative agreement, partly because they were unhappy with the size of pay increases and higher health-insurance premiums.


The mechanics have not had a pay increase since December 2002.


Cascade Natural Gas

28 employees laid off this week


Cascade Natural Gas laid off 28 employees, representing about 6.5 percent of its work force, earlier this week, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


The workers were laid off Wednesday, according to the filing. The company did not indicate where the affected employees worked or give a reason for the layoffs, except to say that they “were determined by management to arrive at an organizational structure designed to best achieve the company’s business objectives, including improved financial performance.”


Severance pay for the laid-off workers will cost Cascade Natural Gas $1.3 million to $1.4 million.


Representatives of the company could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

Microsoft

System to prevent skipping over ads


Microsoft is working on a system that will prevent consumers from skipping over commercials while watching television programs and movies transmitted on the Internet.


“We believe in the advertising model,” Blair Westlake, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for entertainment and technology convergence, told a television conference yesterday in Cambridge, England. “We’re working on technology to distribute content that doesn’t allow for fast-forwarding.”


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Adobe Systems

Earnings report raises stock price


Adobe Systems stock soared on the heels of a strong earnings report and confidence ahead of the closing of the software maker’s takeover of Macromedia.


Shares of Adobe rose $2.53, or 9.4 percent, to close at $29.43 yesterday. Macromedia shares rose $3.35, or 9.1 percent, to close at $40.14.


Double-digit percentage growth from Adobe’s flagship Creative Suite and Acrobat products “led to a solid third quarter and we expect this momentum to continue for at least the next several quarters,” said Brad Reback, CIBC World Markets analyst, in a note. “We would be buyers of the shares ahead of the Macromedia merger.”


CIBC didn’t disclose any significant conflicts of interest in the report.


Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones Newswires